Florida Southern College's board declared a moratorium on awarding tenure in 1971. But as The Ledger reported, a new strategic plan includes tenure as a means to attract top faculty members. This month, the board awarded eight faculty members tenure -- the first such promotions since the moratorium.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The House Armed Services Committee included language in its version of the military authorization bill that raises questions about the Human Terrain System, a controversial program in which social scientists are embedded with military units -- and suggests that funds could be cut off for the program if the Pentagon doesn't take certain actions. Military leaders have said that program provides the military with valuable expertise, but many social scientists have said that they are being asked to sacrifice disciplinary ethics to take actions that might hurt groups they study.
The report from the committee says: "While the committee remains supportive of the Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS) to leverage social science expertise to support operational commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is increasingly concerned that the Army has not paid sufficient attention to addressing certain concerns. The committee encourages the department to continue to develop a broad range of opportunities that leverage the important contributions that can be offered by social science expertise to support key missions such as irregular warfare, counterinsurgency, and stability and reconstruction operations. The bill limits the obligation of funding for HTS until the Army submits a required assessment of the program, provides revalidation of all existing operations requirements, and certifies Department-level guidelines for the use of social scientists."
Leaders of the American Anthropological Association, which has been outspoken in its criticism of the program, praised the House committee's action. The Senate has yet to take such action.
Two of the gay presidents of colleges and universities -- Raymond Crossman of the Adler School of Professional Psychology and Charles Middleton of Roosevelt University -- have invited their fellow gay and lesbian presidents (now about 21) to meet in Chicago in August for a first gathering of such college leaders. The presidents hope to discuss advocacy efforts on behalf of gay students, faculty members and administrators.
The inspector general's office of the U.S. Education Department has issued a final (and largely unchanged) version of a highly critical analysis last winter of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. In the audit, the inspector general's office reiterates its view that the regional accrediting group "does not have an established definition of a credit hour or minimum requirements for program length and the assignment of credit hours," a situation that "could result in inflated credit hours, the improper designation of full-time student status, and the over-awarding" of federal financial aid funds. The audit related largely to the accreditor's approval of American InterContinental University, a for-profit higher education provider. The final version of the audit includes a vigorous rebuttal by the Higher Learning Commission of the inspector general's conclusions.
Legislation in Ohio won committee backing -- on a party line vote, with the support of Democrats -- that would allow part-time faculty members and graduate students unionize at public universities, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Such unions are not permitted under current state law. Democrats said that the move would help attract talent and improve the quality of higher education, while Republicans charged that unions would increase college costs.
The Medical College Admission Test has generally been successful in predicting students’ success during medical school and residency training and on licensing exams, according to a study published in Academic Medicine. However, as the test has been changed over the years, validity has declined on part of the national medical licensing exam, the study found. Further, it found no correlation between MCAT scores and students’ clinical competence as residents because the “validity coefficients were either nonsignificant or practically negligible.”
Anger continues to grow over the decision of Middlesex University, in Britain, to shut down philosophy programs. In the latest escalation, critics from around the world are now pledging a boycott of the university, saying that they will refuse to act as outside examiners for Middlesex or to attend meetings at the university. A university statement on the controversy may be found here.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem has sued General Motors over advertisements showing an underwear model with Albert Einstein's likeness, The Detroit Free Press reported. The ad promotes a new SUV by saying "Ideas are sexy too ... That's why we gave it more ideas per square inch." Hebrew University owns all property rights to Einstein's name and image. The university's lawsuit states that "the tattooed, shirtless image of Dr. Einstein with his underpants on display is not consummate with and causes injury to" the university’s "carefully guarded rights in the image and likeness of the famous scientist, political activist and humanitarian," according to the university's lawsuit, filed in federal court.
Colleges in some states weren't thrilled with how little some of them received of the tens of billions of dollars in education funds that the federal stimulus legislation poured into states last year -- but even that disproportionate allocation may be looking pretty good to them right now. Democrats in the House of Representatives have proposed adding $23 billion in education aid to an emergency spending bill making its way through Congress now, aimed at keeping educators employed (essentially adding another year to the education portion of the stimulus law). But documents released by the White House in support of the measure Wednesday suggest that the money would be made available only to elementary and secondary schools. And a letter released by the Committee for Education Funding, while backing the new aid, urges lawmakers to consider "providing eligibility for funds to public higher education institutions" as well as K-12 schools.
The American International Recruitment Council, which aims to regulate agents that recruit students overseas, and certifies agents that meet its standards through an "accreditation lite" process, announced on Tuesday that it had certified an additional 16 recruitment agencies, bringing the total number of certified agencies to 24 (see the list of newly certified agents here.). Two of the approved agencies received conditional certification and one agency was denied certification. American universities are increasingly embracing the use of agents in recruiting internationally, although ethical debates still persist about paying per-student commissions and the corporatization of core recruiting practices.