Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Nicole Soper Gorden of the University of Massachusetts Amherst explains the love-hate relationship the plant kingdom has with insects, and how some plants defend themselves. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, April 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, founded to educate medical professionals to serve in the low-income parts of Los Angeles and in similar areas, appeared recently to be in dire financial shape. But The Los Angeles Times reported that the university has in recent months stabilized financially and is moving toward naming a new president.

Monday, April 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates last week arrested Nasser bin Ghaith, an economics professor at the Sorbonne's Abu Dhabi branch campus, shortly after he called for democratic reforms in the U.A.E., Bloomberg reported. The arrest appears to be part of a crackdown on democracy activists and may raise concerns for Western universities operating in the country, which have been assured of the rights of academic freedom for their faculty members.

Monday, April 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The Collegian, the student weekly at La Salle University, left the top of its most recent edition blank, to protest a ban from the university on coverage of a recent scandal at the top of the page, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The newspaper, it turns out, had the story of the scandal -- a business professor being investigated for hiring strippers to appear in class and, according to some reports, performing lap dances -- before other media outlets. But the student journalists say they were initially barred from any coverage. An editorial in The Collegian explains: "We didn’t publish a story because we weren’t allowed. This begs an explanation and a confession: the La Salle Collegian is not a real newspaper. It is a student newspaper, more specifically, a student newspaper at a private university. As you may infer, the differences are astronomical." A La Salle spokesman did not respond to an e-mail inquiry asking for comment.

Monday, April 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Donald Green is executive vice president of instruction and student services at Florida State College at Jacksonville, a job that pays $166,000. And as The Florida Times-Union reported, he's also working 15-20 hours a week as a consultant at Essex County College, in New Jersey, which has paid him $46,000 over the last six months. Faculty members at Essex have raised questions about Green's work there, but Steven Wallace, president of Florida State College, said he wasn't concerned as long as Green is doing his second job on his own time. Green said he uses vacation time and off hours for all of his work for Essex.

Monday, April 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, has repeatedly denied that he is trying to influence the direction of Texas colleges in ways beyond the periodic proposals of new ideas or appointing board members. But The Houston Chronicle, based on public records requests for e-mail messages between the governor and university officials, reported that the governor has been pushing an agenda. Among the ideas he has promoted are measuring faculty members' "productivity" through course enrollments, and linking faculty compensation to student evaluations.

Monday, April 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Police officers ended a four-day building takeover at California State University at Sacramento early Saturday morning, telling students that they would be arrested if they did not leave, which they did, The Sacramento Bee reported. The students were protesting budget cuts to higher education in the state. Kevin Wehr, president of the faculty union at Sacramento State, said that the administration made "a horrible mistake" in calling in the police. "I believe [the students] are fighting for their education, and that is a righteous cause," he said.

Monday, April 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Bonnie Yankaskas, an epidemiologist, have settled a dispute over the extent to which she was responsible for a security breach in a computer database used for her studies on breast cancer, The News & Observer reported. The university -- in an action that dismayed many researchers at Chapel Hill and elsewhere -- held Yankaskas responsible, and demoted her from full to associate professor. She and her supporters argued that she was being made a scapegoat. Under the settlement, she is returning to full professor and her full professor's salary, but will retire at the end of the year.

The joint statement on the settlement is as follows: "The university acknowledges that Dr. Yankaskas is an eminent researcher and a long-standing faculty member, and that she has made many contributions to the advancement of science and the improvement of health care for women concerned about or experiencing breast cancer.... The university also acknowledges that there was a communication breakdown, which hindered Dr. Yankaskas from learning that CMR had a vulnerable server. Dr. Yankaskas acknowledges that, as principal investigator of CMR, she had the responsibility for the scientific, fiscal and ethical conduct of the project, and responsibility to hire and supervise the CMR information technology staff who, with assistance as requested from School of Medicine and University information technology professionals, operate and maintain the CMR computer systems on which secure data are maintained."

Monday, April 18, 2011 - 3:00am

"60 Minutes" on Sunday challenged the veracity of parts of Three Cups of Tea, a book that appears on numerous college syllabuses. The book, by Greg Mortenson, talks about his efforts to build schools for girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- and many colleges have assigned the book as a common text for all freshmen to read, making Mortenson a regular on the college lecture circuit. According to "60 Minutes," Mortenson's charity has claimed credit for creating schools that don't exist and his story about how he was inspired to this cause by getting lost on a mountain-climbing expedition is false. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle quoted Mortenson as defending the accuracy of his book and his foundation's efforts. But the article also said that he admitted that the story of how he got the idea was based on "a compressed version of events."

Monday, April 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The Jumbotron competition may be over. The latest must-have item for a big-time college football program is a statue, or statues, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The University of Florida, the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and Auburn University have all recently unveiled statues of football greats (coaches and players). The article noted that these honors are not just coming at the end of careers, as might have been the case in the past.

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