Higher Education Quick Takes
The Texas Senate, with a strong push from Republicans, voted Monday to allow those who hold licenses for concealed weapons to carry them at public colleges and universities, the Associated Press reported. While a majority of Texas legislators have indicated support for the measure, they had been unable to schedule final votes in either legislative chamber before the Senate tally on Monday. House action is still pending. Most higher education leaders have opposed the measure.
Antioch College, which is being revived after its original version was shut down by Antioch University, announced a key advance on Friday: The chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents has authorized Antioch to award bachelor's degrees. That state approval is crucial to the new Antioch obtaining accreditation.
The University of California system is debating the idea of charging different tuition rates at different campuses, The Los Angeles Times reported. Proponents say that the idea can bring in badly needed revenue, and is realistic, given that there is much greater demand to enroll at some campuses (Berkeley, for example) than others. Critics see the idea undercutting the unity of the system.
Students at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee early Saturday morning ended a protest in which they had occupied a study room in the student union nonstop for 67 days, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The students have been protesting Governor Scott Walker's budget plans, which include legislation to deny collective bargaining rights to many state workers. The students attended class during the protests, but kept at least one person in the study room, in which they also slept and ate. Police had to escort some of the protesters out of the room, but none of them resisted.
The Technion is suing Google, claiming that the company has a responsibility to shut down a blog that is highly critical of a program at the Israeli university, Haaretz reported. The blog is on one of Google's blog-hosting sites. Google declined to comment, but is contesting the suit in an Israeli court. The blog in question is devoted to attacking the quality of a medical school program at the Technion for Americans. The blog claims that the program is a poor choice for American students, and the Technion says that the blog is spreading slander.
Academic professionals in Illinois are worried that legislation under consideration would move classification of their jobs from their universities to a state civil service commission, The News-Gazette reported. The academic professionals -- and university administrators too -- say that universities are better able to determine the qualifications needed for various jobs.
Harvard University scholars have noted with sadness that their former colleague -- Michael Ignatieff -- suffered a devastating political defeat last week, when Canadian voters rejected the Liberal Party he led. The Boston Globe reported that Ignatieff was "a superstar" during his years in Cambridge, well-liked by students, professors and the popular press as well. But in the Canadian election campaign, his years at Harvard were constantly used against him. One irony is that in a quote from Ignatieff's past that was used against him, he said that, if he lost, he would seek to return to Harvard. In fact, he accepted a post-election job at the University of Toronto.
Many colleges have majors in religious studies or theology, but Pitzer College believes it is the first to create a major in secularism, The New York Times reported. Professors from other departments will teach courses such as “God, Darwin and Design in America,” “Anxiety in the Age of Reason” and “Bible as Literature.” Phil Zuckerman, a sociologist of religion, is organizing the new major. "It’s not about arguing ‘Is there a God or not?’” Zuckerman told the Times. “There are hundreds of millions of people who are nonreligious. I want to know who they are, what they believe, why they are nonreligious. You have some countries where huge percentages of people — Czechs, Scandinavians — now call themselves atheists. Canada is experiencing a huge wave of secularization. This is happening very rapidly. It has not been studied."