An Evergreen State College professor has been placed on leave after an audit revealed that he could not account for at least $50,000 that he collected from students for study abroad trips he organized to Chile, The Seattle Times reported. Thirteen students have settled a dispute with the college over payments and are receiving refunds.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded this morning to Herta Müller, a German writer of novels, short stories and essays, "who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed," according to the Nobel committee. Müller was born in Romania, where her family was a member of the German minority in that country, and her writing and activism in opposition to the CeauÅŸescu’s dictatorship led to her censorship in Romania, clashes with the government and her eventual move to Germany. The University of Nebraska Press published her book Nadirs (in a translation by Sieglinde Lug, a professor of German and comparative literature at the University of Denver). Two of her books are available through Northwestern University Press: The Land of Green Plums and Traveling on One Leg.
Ninety-two percent of the 273 colleges and universities in a sample being tracked by the American College Health Association reported new cases of H1N1 or similar illnesses in the last week studied, up from 91 percent the previous week. The highest rates of activity are in states in the Mid-Atlantic (Virginia, District of Columbia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania). More details and H1N1 resources are available on the association's Web site.
Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, is proposing that Congress bar the National Science Foundation from supporting research in political science. While the NSF is best known for its support for the physical sciences, computer science and engineering, it has a long history of also supporting work in the social sciences. A statement from the senator said: "The purpose of this amendment is not to restrict science, but rather to better focus scarce basic research dollars on the important scientific endeavors that can expand our knowledge of true science and yield breakthroughs and discoveries that can improve the human condition." While such an amendment is unlikely to be enacted, the American Political Science Association is organizing letter-writing efforts against the measure.
While 89 percent of Latino young adults (ages 16 to 25) say that a college education is important for success in life, only 48 percent say that they themselves plan to get a college degree, according to a new national survey by the Pew Hispanic Center. A report by the center offers an overview of the reasons for this gap -- and identifies financial pressure to support a family as a key issue.
Sexually explicit materials continue to create controversies for Maryland's public university system. The Baltimore Sun reported on efforts by system officials, at legislative request, to develop a policy on student displays of pornographic movies. Lawmakers were upset last year about plans to show a porn film, for which a viewing was called off and then restored in part at Maryland's flagship campus at College Park. Under the drafts being considered, any porn film would have to be paired with educational discussions, the Sun reported.
At Towson University, meanwhile, the editor-in-chief has resigned and a controversial sex column will appear only online and not in print, following criticism -- from the university's president among others - over its explicitness. A statement from the newspaper defended the column's content, but said that the student journalists on the staff regret a break in the Towerlight's normal procedures by letting the columns appear anonymously and that the article wasn't written "less provocatively." The column that sparked the criticism was about how to perform several sexual acts. Reactions posted on the Web site back up the claims of administrators that the piece offended many, and also the claims of the newspaper that many students value the frank discussion of sex.
A student's claim that he performed an exorcism on a former student at Berry College has set off a debate about certain religious practices at the institution, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The exorcism has drawn attention to the WinShape program, in which 100 students are given scholarships and tend to live together, while pledging to attend chapel services together and to abstain from using alcohol and drugs. It was during a WinShape program that the exorcism is said to have taken place.
Researchers in Britain, Israel and the United States are sharing the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on "the structure and function of the ribosome." The three winners are: Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, senior scientist and group leader at Structural Studies Division of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, in Britain; Thomas A. Steitz, Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, both at Yale University; and Ada E. Yonath, Martin S. and Helen Kimmel Professor of Structural Biology and director of Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly, both at the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Israel.
The 2010 edition of the College Sustainability Report Card, being released today, shows that despite the economic woes facing many colleges, many also made significant progress in adopting "green" policies. Grades are awarded based on reporting in a series of categories,including policies on climate change, food, recycling, buildings, transportation, endowments and so forth. A new feature of the project this year is to make the colleges' responses to survey questions public so students or prospective students can examine the status at their institutions and comparison groups. Twenty-six colleges earned A-, the top grade this year. They are: Amherst, Carleton, Dickinson, Luther, Macalester, Middlebury, Oberlin, Pomona,
Smith and Williams Colleges; Arizona State, Brown, Harvard, Pacific Lutheran, Stanford, Wesleyan and Yale Universities; the College of the Atlantic: and the Universities of California at San Diego, Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington.
Amazon is famous for a lot of things, but foremost among them is the customer reviews that are appended to virtually every product it sells (the company went so far as to patent its approach). The company sells books, but it isn't a publisher, so it has an interest -- at least theoretically -- in letting its customers say what they don't like as well as what they like about specific titles. That's less obviously true about SAGE Publications, but that hasn't stopped the scholarly/professional publisher from adopting its own form of customer comment function on the Web pages for all of its books. Lecturers who receive inspection copies of SAGE books will have the option of submitting online comments or reviews that will appear on the titles' product page -- whether they are positive or negative, SAGE officials say. “If a review has constructive criticism, it has as much right to be there as a review that is heavily in favor of a title,” said Clive Parry, sales and marketing director. ("Inappropriate" reviews will come down, SAGE reports.) Based on the handful of comments that appear on SAGE titles such as Researching Health and Key Issues in Education Policy so far under the new system, the reviews definitely lean toward the positive.