Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, May 2, 2011 - 3:00am

The Massachusetts Community College Council's Delegate Assembly voted 74 to 26 on Saturday in favor of granting part-time members a full vote in electing chapter and statewide leaders. Support for a measure to amend the MCCC's bylaws has increased in recent years and this year crossed the two-thirds majority required for adoption. Previously, each adjunct was granted one-quarter of a vote in elections of leaders.

Monday, May 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Queen's University in Canada is ending a boycott of the international rankings of Times Higher Education, citing last year's change in methodology by the publication, and the impact of staying out of those and other international rankings. A statement from Queen's noted that appearing in international rankings is key to attracting students from China and India. The statement quoted Chris Conway, director of institutional research and planning, as saying that “Queen’s is still concerned because the rankings focus mainly on research volume and intensity, and although Queen’s is one of Canada’s top research universities, our quality undergraduate student experience and out-of-classroom experience are not fully captured."

Monday, May 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Many law schools in recent years have increased spending on merit scholarships, hoping to attract top students and to boost rankings. But an article in The New York Times noted why some of the recipients feel that the law schools are playing a game of bait and switch. Many of the scholarships have grade-point-average requirements that recipients assume they can meet, but some of the law schools use curves on grading that make it virtually impossible for a good number of scholarship recipients to hold on to their grants. This means they end up enrolling at expensive institutions, and are faced with unexpectedly high bills their second or third years.

Monday, May 2, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Alaska at Fairbanks is appealing to students to stop flushing socks down the toilets of the fine arts complex, The Daily News-Miner reported. Officials say that a recent trend of sock-flushing has caused $15,000 in damage and extra labor costs. The university recently posted signs in bathrooms, asking people not to flush socks, and 40 socks quickly turned up. University officials say that they are mystified by the trend, but those posting comments on the newspaper's website have offered several theories.

Monday, May 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Princeton University suspended a Spanish instructor four days before he killed himself, The New York Times reported. The suicide of Antonio Calvo last month left many students and some colleagues demanding more information about how the university treated Calvo. The university acknowledged that Calvo was on leave at the time of his death, and it was known that he was the subject of a review on whether he could keep his job, but little else has been clear. Documents obtained by the Times showed that the university suspended him with pay, and barred him from campus, writing to him that officials had "received information from multiple sources that you have been engaging in extremely troubling and inappropriate behavior in the workplace." The letter did not specify the nature of that behavior, but sources have said that while Calvo was popular with the undergraduates he taught, he clashed with graduate students whose teaching he supervised and sometimes considered inadequate.

Monday, May 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Amar Bose, the founder of the company with his name that makes high-end audio products, has donated a majority of the corporation's stock to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stipulating that MIT will benefit from dividends, but will not vote on company direction. The New York Times reported that the gift has raised the eyebrows of some tax experts, who note that MIT cannot vote or sell the stock. Some experts told The Times that more detail should be released on the gift, and that it may not be fair to call it a full gift, given the limits on MIT's use of the stock.

Friday, April 29, 2011 - 3:00am

Fontbonne University announced Thursday that it has rescinded an invitation to Greg Mortenson, the author and philanthropist, to be the 2011 commencement speaker and to receive an honorary degree. A segment on "60 Minutes" this month detailed accusations about inaccurate portions of the Mortenson book Three Cups of Tea and about the management of his foundation. A statement from the university said that it acted after a faculty vote to take back the invitation, and that the student government also backed the move. The statement noted that the university had been unable to discuss the matter with Mortenson. “The purpose of our commencement is to honor Fontbonne graduates,” said Dennis Golden, Fontbonne's president. "We want to focus on their achievements and accomplishments."

Friday, April 29, 2011 - 3:00am

Robert Kevess, a physician who worked for more than 20 years in the student health center at the University of California at Berkeley, was charged Thursday with eight counts of sexual exploitation of a patient, seven counts of sexual battery involving false professional purpose and four counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. All of the allegations involve male patients who were students at the time Kevess treated them. Robert Beles, Kevess's lawyer, said that his client had been "grossly overcharged." He said that some of the incidents were activities between consenting adults. But Beles also said that Kevess may have had a "lapse of professional judgment." Berkeley officials issued statements expressing shock about the charges, pledging continued cooperation with authorities and offering support to any students concerned about the situation.

Friday, April 29, 2011 - 3:00am

A new study by Turnitin, the plagiarism detection service, has found that term paper mills account only for a small minority (15 percent) of the apparent sources of the copying. One-third of such material comes from social networks and another one-fourth from "legitimate" educational sources.

Friday, April 29, 2011 - 3:00am

Graduate students at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education are charging -- citing tenure denials -- that the institution has shifted away from an emphasis on social justice and equity issues, The Boston Globe reported. Three faculty members who focus on such issues have been denied tenure in the past three years. Further, other professors who work on equity issues have been recruited to move to other universities. Kathleen McCartney, the dean, told the Globe: "I respectfully disagree with the view, voiced by some students and others, that the school is not committed to equity, diversity, and social justice as objects of inquiry."

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