Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 3:00am

The Alliance Defense Fund on Tuesday charged Vanderbilt University Medical Center with violating a law that prevents federally funds from going to institutions that discriminate against applicants who do not want to assist in abortions. The dispute stems from Vanderbilt's Nurse Residency Program in the Women’s Health Track application (pdf), which says nurses “will be expected to care for women undergoing termination of pregnancy.” It continues: “If you feel you cannot provide care to women during this type of event, we encourage you to apply to a different track of the Nurse Residency Program to explore opportunities that may best fit your skills and career goals.”

In a statement released this morning, Vanderbilt University Medical Center North’s director of communications John Howser said that the allegations “have arisen due to a misunderstanding.” In a separate e-mail, he clarified the intention of the application: “The applicant must acknowledge … that he or she understands they may be asked to care for these patients at some point during their care. However, this DOES NOT mean the applicant will be required to participate in performing terminations as a requirement for training, but may be called upon to provide assistance at some point in the continuum of care.” Howser says that as of now, Vanderbilt University Medical Center cannot comment on whether it will change the language of the Nurse Residency application. Matt Bowman, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, responded, "Their description of the letter contradicts the letter itself. They're denying."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 3:00am

Yale failed to withhold taxes for the medical benefits for partners that its employees with same-sex partners receive from the university -- and as a result those employees are being hit with larger withholding totals now, The New York Times reported. The university said that 61 employees were affected.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 3:00am

Taiwan, which last year announced that its universities could admit students from China, has barred those students from certain academic programs, CNA reported. The Chinese students will be barred from police and military academies, and departments that engage in confidential research or surveys. The Chinese students will also be barred from research and educational programs involving the military or military-related technology.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 3:00am

A study being released today by the American Enterprise Institute found that, in a sample of parents asked to choose between two public colleges on the basis of their own knowledge and accurate information provided about graduation rates, the parents did care about graduation rates. Providing information about graduation rates increased by 15 percentage points the chance that the parents would prefer the institution with better rates, the study found. The significance of the finding, the report says, is that one way to help more Americans earn degrees is to encourage the enrollment of more students at institutions with better graduation rates than others.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 3:00am

Seton Hall University on Tuesday named A. Gabriel Esteban, provost and interim president, to the position of president. Seton Hall, a Roman Catholic University, originally tried to select a priest as its president, and re-opened its search last year to include lay candidates after pressure from faculty members who were not happy with the original finalists. Esteban, who is Catholic, told The Star-Ledger that he expected no change in the university's Catholic mission as a result of his appointment.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Linda Schadler describes her role in a project that uses the big screen to explain the nano world. Find out more about The Academic Minute here. (To download this podcast directly, please click here.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Pepperdine University's Robert Kaufman explores the need for continued research into missile defense. Find out more about The Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 - 3:00am

The subscription-based research database JSTOR, which contains backlogs of scholarly articles going back centuries, has announced plans to begin adding full-length books to its catalog. Scholars using JSTOR’s recently revamped search interface will be able to access relevant book content from certain university presses with whom the organization has partnered -- a list that currently includes the Princeton University Press, the University of Chicago Press, the University of Minnesota Press, and the University of North Carolina Press. Ithaka, JSTOR’s parent organization, has advocated for more collaboration among university presses in the digital age; Ithaka researchers foreshadowed this week’s move in a 2007 report suggesting that making book content available through searchable online repositories could help ensure that long-form scholarly content finds a way to customers. The JSTOR announcement comes just days after the Oxford University Press unveiled its own plan to expand its existing repository for long-form content, Oxford Scholarship Online, to include content from other university presses.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 - 3:00am

A new study in the Journal of Personality finds that college students crave boosts in self-esteem -- such as receiving praise or a good grade -- above all other activities. Students ranked such ego boosting as more pleasing than having sex, eating favorite foods, drinking alcohol or seeing a best friend.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 - 3:00am

Board members at Montreal's Concordia University, after two weeks of silence, acknowledged Monday that they had forced out their second president in three years, saying that Judith Woodsworth did not fit with the university's ambitious plans, the National Post reported. Concordia announced in late December that Woodsworth was leaving for personal reasons, but were forced to concede -- after she went public with charges that she had been forced out -- that they had paid her $700,000 to leave. Woodsworth, president since 2008, replaced Claude Lajeunesse, who also had a run-in with the Board of Governors, the Post reported.

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