The Association of American Universities on Wednesday announced that it had invited the Georgia Institute of Technology to become a member -- an offer the institute accepted immediately. Georgia Tech brings AAU membership to 63. The association is an invitation-only group whose members are selected on the basis of the breadth and quality of research and graduate programs, among other qualities. While universities do not formally apply to become members, many let it be known that they would like to be considered. Three quarters of existing members must approve any expansion. Georgia Tech is the first new member in nine years.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Arizona Board of Regents has agreed to pay $700,000 to 41 individuals in the Havasupai tribe to compensate them for the use of their blood in research that they believe they never authorized, Indian Country Today reported. The tribe members say that they believed they gave blood samples only for limited use in a diabetes study, and that they later found out about much broader use -- including in studies that they never would have authorized. While Arizona State University officials denied wrongdoing, the regents agreed to settle the case.
American college students -- cut off from social media for 24 hours -- use the same words to describe their feelings as as associated with those addicted to drugs or alcohol, according to a new study by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda, at the University of Maryland at College Park. In the study, 200 Maryland students were asked to abstain from using social media for 24 hours and then to write their feelings. The words frequently used: in withdrawal, frantically craving, very anxious, extremely antsy, miserable, jittery and crazy.
Susan D. Moeller, a journalism professor at Maryland and the director of the center that conducted the study, said that students see social media as key to their relationships with others. She said that researchers "noticed that what they wrote at length about was how they hated losing their personal connections. Going without media meant, in their world, going without their friends and family."
The new union for non-tenure-track faculty members at Western Michigan University has negotiated a first contract with the university. The union, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, hasn't released details of the contract yet. A statement from Karl Schrock, the president of the union, said: "We are pleased with the improvements to our working conditions that will occur as a result of this first contract. At a time when other state employees have experienced wage reductions, reduced security and take-backs, we have been able to secure modest gains on all fronts."
Prairie View A&M has disbanded its chapter of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity for violations of hazing rules and state law -- violations linked to the death of a student in October, The Dallas Morning News reported. The student, who had a medical condition that placed him at risk, collapsed during an intense exercise drill. A university report found that the fraternity tried to cover up its role in the tragedy, instructing students to deny that any fraternity members were present.
The number of athletes playing on intercollegiate teams at colleges in the National Collegiate Athletic Association rose to 421,000 in the 2008-9 academic year, hitting record highs for both male and female athletes, the association said Tuesday. Most of the growth came among women, but men continued to outnumber female athletes over all by about 57 to 43 percent. Among other highlights of the association's annual Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report; NCAA colleges added 157 men’s teams and 197 women’s teams in 2008-9, and dropped 63 men’s and 57 women’s squads, and the average NCAA member had 399 athletes, 228 men and 171 women.
The University of Louisiana at Monroe has agreed to a former business school administrator -- and to revise hiring procedures to longer consider retiree status -- to settle an age discrimination suit, The News Star reported. The agreement, which ends 14 years of legal fighting, does not involve an admission of guilt by the university.
The National Endowment for the Humanities has apologized to a grant recipient who was told by the director of an NEH-financed seminar in Europe that she had 12 hours to demonstrate that she had adequate child care arrangements in place for her son or she would lose her spot. The plight of the woman, a single mother, was first reported on the blog Feminist Philosophers and then spread elsewhere online. When Inside Higher Ed asked the NEH about the situation last week, officials said that they would investigate, but that the situation as described was not consistent with endowment policies.
An NEH spokeswoman, via e-mail, said Tuesday that the investigation by the endowment determined that the report "was, unfortunately, true. NEH has accepted full responsibility and apologized to the professor involved. We believe we are in the process of resolving the issue to her satisfaction. We have assured her that she is welcome to attend the institute to which she applied and, at her request, we have also extended the deadline to make it possible for her to apply for another seminar if she so chooses." The spokeswoman added: "Asking an applicant to provide information regarding child care was inappropriate and should have had no bearing on the selection process. Qualified applicants who tell the NEH that they will participate full time in our programs should be taken at their word. We erred and are determined that it will not happen again."
A new study has found that almost half of undergraduates at a Northeastern university use indoor tanning beds, and that those who do tend to use alcohol and marijuana and to experience symptoms of anxiety, CNN reported.
First Syracuse University students organized to protest the selection of Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., as commencement speaker, citing the controversies over the finance industry. Now students at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs are organizing against the selection of their graduation speaker: Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup. Pandit is a Columbia trustee, with four Columbia degrees (from divisions other than the public affairs school). A Facebook group called "We don't want a bank executive to speak at our commencement" explains the opposition this way: "We want people who did not take part in the financial crisis, who did not rely on massive bailouts to save their money making industry and that are actually helping the poor and the less fortunate of society be better off. Bank CEOs should go speak at the B-school commencement, not at SIPA."
One student told The New York Daily News that Pandit "represents an industry that, even when it was stable and not in crisis, paid itself outrageous salaries." And another said that students would have preferred to hear from Stephen Colbert, Bill Clinton, or Hillary Clinton.
John H. Coatsworth, dean of the School of International and Public Affairs, shared with Inside Higher Ed material from the e-mail responses he has been sending students who have questioned the choice. His e-mail notes that more than a third of the school's graduates work in the private sector, many of them in the finance industry.
As for Pandit, Coatsworth wrote: "Vikram Pandit took over at Citigroup after the crisis hit, reduced his own salary to one dollar per year, and designed the recovery strategy Citi has followed since. He is unusually thoughtful and forthright on the role of Citi and other banks leading up to the crisis, most recently in testifying before Congressional committees. Citigroup has repaid all of the $45 billion in TARP funds it received from the U.S. government; recent estimates indicate that the U.S. government will earn a profit of $8.2 billion when it sells all the Citigroup stock it acquired in exchange for its aid. I think that students and their families will find Mr. Pandit, who favors better regulation of the banking industry, to be an unusually interesting graduation speaker, perhaps quite different from what some would have anticipated. He accepted our invitation in part, I am sure, because of his long standing commitment to Columbia, but I think he also accepted because he wants to promote dialogue with future leaders, not only of the private sector, but also of the public institutions that regulate finance, and the NGOs that provide forward-looking solutions for the diverse issues of the 21st century."