Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011 - 3:00am

The subscription-based research database JSTOR, which contains backlogs of scholarly articles going back centuries, has announced plans to begin adding full-length books to its catalog. Scholars using JSTOR’s recently revamped search interface will be able to access relevant book content from certain university presses with whom the organization has partnered -- a list that currently includes the Princeton University Press, the University of Chicago Press, the University of Minnesota Press, and the University of North Carolina Press. Ithaka, JSTOR’s parent organization, has advocated for more collaboration among university presses in the digital age; Ithaka researchers foreshadowed this week’s move in a 2007 report suggesting that making book content available through searchable online repositories could help ensure that long-form scholarly content finds a way to customers. The JSTOR announcement comes just days after the Oxford University Press unveiled its own plan to expand its existing repository for long-form content, Oxford Scholarship Online, to include content from other university presses.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 - 3:00am

A new study in the Journal of Personality finds that college students crave boosts in self-esteem -- such as receiving praise or a good grade -- above all other activities. Students ranked such ego boosting as more pleasing than having sex, eating favorite foods, drinking alcohol or seeing a best friend.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 - 3:00am

Board members at Montreal's Concordia University, after two weeks of silence, acknowledged Monday that they had forced out their second president in three years, saying that Judith Woodsworth did not fit with the university's ambitious plans, the National Post reported. Concordia announced in late December that Woodsworth was leaving for personal reasons, but were forced to concede -- after she went public with charges that she had been forced out -- that they had paid her $700,000 to leave. Woodsworth, president since 2008, replaced Claude Lajeunesse, who also had a run-in with the Board of Governors, the Post reported.

Monday, January 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in the shootings of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others on Saturday, withdrew from Pima Community College in October, after the college had suspended him. A statement from the college said that he was suspended after five contacts with college police officers and after the college discovered a YouTube video, made on a Pima campus, in which Loughner claimed that the college was an illegal organization under the U.S. Constitution.

Monday, January 10, 2011 - 3:00am

A student died in a track and field tryout at North Carolina A&T University, with his sickle cell trait blamed in the death, two days after a university official discouraged athletic officials from testing students for the trait until they made teams, The News & Record reported. Roland Lovelace, the chief athletic trainer, sent an e-mail to coaches saying that the tests cost too much to conduct on those just trying out. “Please do not send your student athletes to get a sickle cell test if they are participating in tryouts,” Lovelace wrote in an e-mail. “Please make sure they are actually on the team before this test is done. The reason for this is that the student health center is charging the athletic department for this test to be done.” Following criticism over athlete deaths linked to sickle cell, the National Collegiate Athletic Association required the test of athletes and those trying out, unless they sign a waiver, which the dead student did not do.

Monday, January 10, 2011 - 3:00am

More than 150 senior Israeli academics have signed a petition calling for an academic boycott of the Ariel University Center, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, The Jerusalem Post reported. The petition states that the center was built on occupied land near areas where Palestinians lack human rights. A number of British academics have been working for years to organize academic boycotts of Israeli universities -- and these efforts have been opposed by academic groups not only in Israel but also in the United States. The Israeli organizers of the new boycott effort say that by distinguishing between a boycott of universities in Israel proper and the one built on the West Bank, they hope to fight efforts to stigmatize all Israeli universities.

Monday, January 10, 2011 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Elena Traister of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts looks at the state of America’s polluted rivers and streams and explains methods to restore them. Find out more about The Academic Minute here.

Monday, January 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Rowan University has agreed to pay Donald Farish, who had announced plans to leave when his contract expires in June 2012, $600,000 to leave a year early, The Press of Atlantic City reported. Paul Tyahla, executive director of the Common Sense Institute of New Jersey, criticized the buyout. "It’s become an unfortunate standard to compensate presidents on the way out.... Boards have become convinced that you don’t want a lame duck president for the last year, and so presidents should instead be paid for not being there," he said.

Monday, January 10, 2011 - 3:00am

California State University at Los Angeles incorrectly told about 500 students that their grades were too low to allow them to return to campus for the spring semester, the Los Angeles Times reported. While the students were on academic probation, their grades didn't disqualify them from enrolling. The university has since apologized for the error.

Friday, January 7, 2011 - 3:00am

It didn't take long, unsurprisingly, for the controversy over pensions at the University of California to produce a political reaction in the state. To bipartisan applause, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, a state legislator introduced legislation Thursday that would require all public retirement programs in California to adhere to an Internal Revenue Service salary cap when calculating benefits for employees who join them, beginning in 2012. The measure is a direct and purposeful response to the threat of a lawsuit by a group of senior officials at the University of California unless the university recalculates their retirement benefits to base them on their actual salaries, rather than on the first $245,000 of their pay as the IRS cap requires. The employees say the university committed a decade ago to lifting the cap for them, but UC leaders say they will not do so. "They really need to come down from their ivory tower and see and feel what real people are going through," State Assemblyman Jerry Hill, who sponsored the legislation, told the San Francisco paper.

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