Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, December 2, 2010 - 3:00am

A court in Ireland has ruled that a lecturer at University College Cork should not be punished for sexual harassment for having shown a female colleague a paper on the sex life of fruit bats, The Irish Times reported. The court ruled that imposing sanctions in the case was "grossly disproportionate." The university had ordered the lecturer to undergo counseling and to be monitored for two years.

Thursday, December 2, 2010 - 3:00am

Iowa Republicans, who are about to control the state House of Representatives, are calling for public universities to stop awarding sabbaticals, saying that the state can no longer afford them, the Associated Press reported. "It seems to be tough budgetary times. Why should the taxpayers of Iowa be paying to basically give these folks a year off from teaching?" said Kraig Paulsen, who is about to become speaker of the House. Edwin Dove, president of the Faculty Senate at the University of Iowa, said that while on sabbaticals in 2009, professors wrote 26 books; published 147 research articles; created and updated nearly 100 classes; and submitted 50 grant applications.

Thursday, December 2, 2010 - 3:00am

Faculty members everywhere complain about students who text in class, but professors at Wilkes University decided to measure the extent of the practice. Deborah Tindell and Robert Bohlander, psychology professors, surveyed 269 students anonymously. Among the findings:

  • 95 percent of students bring their phones to class every day.
  • 91 percent have used their phones to text message during class time.
  • Almost half of respondents said it was easy to text in class without instructors being aware.
  • 99 percent said they should be permitted to retain their cell phones while in class.
  • 62 percent said they should be allowed to text in class as long as they don’t disturb their classmates. (About a quarter of the students stated that texting creates a distraction to those sitting nearby.)
  • 10 percent said that they have sent or received text messages during exams, and 3 percent admitted to transmitting exam information during a test.
Thursday, December 2, 2010 - 3:00am

A Florida group is seeking to start the first for-profit medical school offering M.D. degrees in the United States, The Sun Sentinel reported. (Another for-profit already provides education leading to a degree in osteopathic medicine.) The medical school hopes to open in 2012 with an initial class of 100.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 3:00am

Colleges and universities shouldn't wait for the cities and towns where they are located to hit them up for tax payments (as often happens when economic woes grow) -- they should work with municipalities to craft fair and clear-cut arrangements, a new report argues. The report, from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, examines the deals known as "payments in lieu of taxes" (or PILOTs), and characterizes them as a logical way for tax-exempt colleges and other groups to both pay for the public services they use and provide much-needed revenue to their home areas. But the arrangements "are often haphazard, secretive, and calculated in an ad hoc manner that results in widely varying payments among similar nonprofits," says the report, in arguing for more thoughtful approaches.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Louisville has named Walter Mischel, psychology professor and Niven professor of humane letters at Columbia University, as the winner of the 2011 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Psychology. He was honored for research showing that willpower can be learned – and that those who have it benefit over the long run. The honor provides Mischel with $100,000.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Amsterdam has agreed to give Justus Eisfeld a new diploma to replace the one he received when he was a woman and graduated, the Associated Press reported. The university agreed to provide the new diploma after an equal opportunity commission said the refusal to do so would amount to discrimination.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 3:00am

Martin Meehan, a Congressman-turned-college-president, on Tuesday withdrew his name from consideration to be the new president of the University of Massachusetts system, days after Gov. Deval Patrick expressed concern that the search process was not considering candidates with enough national education background, the Boston Herald reported. Meehan said he would remain as president of the university's campus in Lowell.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 3:00am

Darrel Hammon has resigned as president of Laramie County Community College amid criticism from some trustees and faculty members, The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported. Hammon was criticized in an internal report for mishandling the suicidal behaviors of a student on a 2008 trip the president led to Costa Rica -- and he was also criticized for trying to block release of the critical report. Also, the Faculty Senate recently called for an investigation into whether the college is hiring too many administrators. In resigning, Hammon defended his record, but said that it would be difficult to lead the institution without full board support.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

A federal review panel is backing the claim of the Hoonah T'akdeintaan clan, a Native American group, that it is entitled to the return of a collection of 40 or so objects in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Anchorage Daily News reported. The objects have been housed at Penn for decades, but clan members say that the collection includes sacred objects. Penn has offered to return eight objects and to co-curate the remainder with clan members, but they are pushing for the return of the full collection. A Penn spokeswoman said that she was disappointed by the federal panel's ruling backing the Hoonah T'akdeintaan claim on the collection, and that the university remained hopeful of working out a mutually agreeable resolution.

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