Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, March 28, 2011 - 3:00am

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders on Sunday announced a budget deal that appears likely to include significant cuts to the City University of New York and State University of New York systems. Some additional funds were added that will lessen cuts to the the community colleges in both systems and to SUNY hospitals. More details are expected in coming days.

Monday, March 28, 2011 - 3:00am

Dalhousie University's medical school is being criticized for agreeing to set aside (in return for financial support for the openings) 10 slots for Saudi students, The Telegraph-Journal reported. Medical school officials said that limited funds for the institution from Nova Scotia's government necessitate such policies. But some medical professionals believe the move is inappropriate at a time that some provinces in Canada need more doctors.

Monday, March 28, 2011 - 3:00am

Gaston Caperton announced Friday that he will step down next year as president of the College Board, which he has led since 1999. A statement from the College Board listed many accomplishments of his tenure, including growth in the Advanced Placement program, shifts in the SAT (most notably the introduction of a writing exam) and growth in membership of the College Board. Caperton's tenure also included substantial growth, however, in market share for the ACT, which now is roughly equal to the SAT as the primary college entrance exam; major controversies over a for-profit spinoff that the College Board shut down in 2002 amid criticism from members that it was wrong for the organization to sell products related to its tests; a major scoring scandal, and growth in the number of colleges dropping the SAT as a requirement -- with those colleges almost uniformly reporting satisfaction with the shift.

Monday, March 28, 2011 - 3:00am

Peking University's plans to expand a program of consultations with different groups of students is worrying some students and human rights advocates, China Daily reported. The university said the program would focus on reaching out to students who are facing academic difficulty. But the university is also planning sessions with "troublesome students," including those with "radical thoughts" that include criticizing the administration. "No universities or schools have the right to deprive students of the freedom to think or speak," said Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the Beijing-based 21st Century Education Research Institute. "The university is somewhere to cultivate people's independent personalities and thinking, so it's totally wrong for Peking University to intervene in students' freedom to express their different opinions," Xiong said.

Monday, March 28, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Oxford is investigating allegations that the thesis proposal of Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, a doctoral student who is a son of a former president of Iran, was written with outside help, The Guardian reported. Rafsanjani denies the allegations and says that he is being smeared. The inquiry is particularly sensitive because of recent questions about the legitimacy of a Ph.D. awarded by the London School of Economics and Political Science to a son of Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Friday, March 25, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Thursday revived a bias suit by Fred U. Andes against New Jersey City University. The suit by Andes charges that he was passed over for promotion to full professor because he is Asian. The appeals court's ruling does not address the substance of the allegations, finding only that a lower court was too quick to dismiss the case, and that the lower court should let Andes have a chance to present his case.

Friday, March 25, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Association of University Professors announced Thursday that it is creating a special committee to review association policies on "financial exigency" and program closure. The AAUP has historically had a very high bar -- a state of financial exigency in which institutions face a threat to their survival -- to permit layoffs of tenured faculty members. In the current economic crisis, however, many colleges have not followed the AAUP's policies. Michael Bérubé, an English professor at Pennsylvania State University and chair of the new AAUP panel, gave the following explanation in the AAUP announcement of the committee: "The AAUP's Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure make provision for program closings and terminations of appointments when universities face 'financial exigency.' 'Exigency,' however, is defined as 'an imminent financial crisis that threatens the survival of the institution as a whole and that cannot be alleviated by less drastic means.' It is becoming increasingly clear that the financial crises faced by many American colleges and universities are not 'imminent' in this sense, and do not threaten 'the survival of the institution as a whole.' Rather, what we are seeing is a series of slow bleeds, crises brought on by austerity and attrition — especially at publicly funded institutions whose public funding has been dwindling for decades." He added that the new panel would focus on "the question of how the AAUP can best respond to program closings and terminations under such conditions, conditions which may not threaten entire institutions with imminent bankruptcy but which do threaten to transform American higher education as a whole."

Friday, March 25, 2011 - 3:00am

The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors has issued a statement decrying the development of a video game that lets the player take on the role of a student who, a la Columbine or Virginia Tech, shoots up classrooms and campuses before killing him- or herself. The game, "School Shooter: North American Tour 2012" is being developed as a modification of Source, a 3D game environment, and its pending development has been gaining notoriety among campus student affairs and legal officials, though they have debated whether drawing attention to the product might lend it credence. The statement from the counseling directors group calls on the makers of the game to stop its production. "As campus mental health professionals who first hand experience the tragedy and devastation that occurs in the aftermath of campus violence," it says, "AUCCCD believes the production of such products is most deplorable and unfortunate."

Friday, March 25, 2011 - 3:00am

Professors at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls voted overwhelmingly Thursday to unionize, the River Falls Journal reported, joining several other faculty bodies that have done so even as the state moves to strip public college faculty members of their recently won right to bargain collectively. The River Falls professors voted 148 to 16 to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers branch in Wisconsin.

Friday, March 25, 2011 - 3:00am

Marquette University announced Thursday that it will start to offer domestic partner benefits to employees in 2012, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Both faculty and student groups have asked the university to start the benefit. Marquette, a Roman Catholic university, has faced scrutiny over its treatment of gay employees since its move last year to rescind a job offer to a lesbian scholar for a dean's position. Rev. Robert A. Wild, Marquette's president, sent a message to the campus Thursday explaining the decision to offer benefits. "If we are truly pastoral in our application of the Jesuit principle of cura personalis, I asked myself if I could reconcile that with denying health benefits to a couple who have legally registered their commitment to each other," he said. Cura personalis means "care for the entire person."

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