Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - 3:00am

A long-standing football rivalry between Boise State University and the University of Idaho may fall apart -- and that is leading to a war of words between leaders of the two institutions, The Idaho Statesman reported. Boise State is leaving the Western Athletic Conference (where Idaho will continue to play) for the Mountain West Conference. Bob Kustra, Boise State's president, told the newspaper he wouldn't miss trips to the Idaho campus for games. He said that the environment at Idaho is "a culture that is nasty, inebriated and civilly doesn't give our fans the respect that any fan should expect when visiting an away team." Kustra cited an article about Boise State in Idaho's student newspaper, The Argonaut, that was headlined "Who do we hate?" M. Duane Nellis, Idaho's president said he was “disappointed to learn of President Kustra’s reported remarks." Nellis added: “Both the University of Idaho and the city of Moscow take great pride in the friendly, welcoming and warm environment that a quintessential college town like ours can uniquely provide.... In-state rivalries are meant to be fun. Our long-time rivalry with BSU is important to the state, the economy, and the fans from both teams."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - 3:00am

A new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures suggests that while states are no longer experiencing steep declines in revenues, recovery is going to be a slow process. Nearly every state is now projecting fiscal 2011 revenue to be more than 2010 revenue, but the figures for 2010 are so much lower than past years that the increases are likely to be far short of a full recovery.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - 3:00am

A story on NPR examines a "little-known but growing population of financially stressed students, who are facing hunger and sometimes even homelessness." A student at the University of California at Los Angeles describes rotating sleep between the library and friends' couches, and using fitness facilities to shower.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - 3:00am

The athletics department at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee is facing a deficit of up to $8 million. So student leaders want to know why the university is sending its basketball team on a trip to Italy, at a cost of $160,000, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. A university spokesman said that 10 days in Italy "will enhance the cohesiveness of the team, while giving our student athletes a unique life experience that will foster their own personal growth." Students who have to finance their own personal growth may have another view. “The fact that the UWM Athletics Department continues to spend outside of its means is troubling. The department simply cannot afford to go on such an extravagant trip regardless of where the money is from,” said Travis Romero-Boeck, president of the Student Association.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - 3:00am

Many students aren't nearly as Web savvy as they imagine themselves to be, according to a study that tracked 102 University of Illinois at Chicago students. Students trust Google and other search engines so much that they only click on sites that come at the top of their searches, failing to see the lack of a relationship between such positions and actual trustworthiness. "Many students think, ‘Google placed it number one, so, of course it's credible,' " said Eszter Hargittai, associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern University and senior author of a paper on the research, in a press release. "This is potentially tricky because Google doesn't rank a site by its credibility." The paper was recently published in the International Journal of Communication.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 - 3:00am

Nike announced Monday that together with its subsidiaries, it would provide $1.5 million and vocational training for workers who lost jobs at company suppliers in Honduras. The University of Wisconsin at Madison and Cornell University have moved to end lucrative relationships with Nike over the issue of the company's treatment of these workers. Nike has until now largely argued that it couldn't be held responsible for the actions of some of its subcontractors. A statement from Madison said that its "decision to end its licensing agreement with Nike over the treatment of Honduran factory workers has had a major, positive impact." A spokesman said that it was now possible the university could again negotiate contracts with Nike.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 - 3:00am

Trustees of the Connecticut State University System on Monday backed down on the size of raises for top administrators, bowing to pressure from Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who not only criticized the raises of 8-10 percent, but called for a change in system governance, The Hartford Courant reported. Until Monday, trustees said that the large raises -- now largely cut in half -- were needed to be competitive for top talent.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 - 3:00am

India's Bangalore University has decided to reserve one slot in each of 52 academic departments for transgendered students, The Hindu reported. Indian universities operate under quota systems for admitting students from various groups that have suffered discrimination.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 - 3:00am

Faculty members at the Art Institute of Seattle have voted down a proposed union, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported. Faculty members behind the union drive at the institute had sought to organize with the American Federation of Teachers, and the effort was a rare one in for-profit higher education, where adjunct positions dominate. Some faculty members behind the union said that the art institute had used "union busting" tactics to scare faculty members. Others said that the art institute had improved working conditions after the union drive went public. For example, they said class sizes were reduced substantially.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Copyright Office on Monday promulgated a number of new exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, including one allowing university staffers and students to hack DVD content and display it for educational purposes. If a university or student lawfully obtains copy of a DVD, the agency says, they can bypass the encryption so long as "circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for... Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students." The exemption applies when professors or students want to use excerpts of the hacked DVD in documentary films or "non-commercial videos." Tracy Mitrano, director of I.T. policy at Cornell University and a technology law blogger for Inside Higher Ed, called the decision "very big news," and "good news," for higher education, noting that advocates in academe have been lobbying for an expansion of fair use exemptions for some time. One campus that might take heart is the University of California at Los Angeles, which an educational media group threatened to sue last spring for copying and streaming DVD content on course websites. The university had refused to stop the practice, and a UCLA spokesman said the group, the Association for Information and Media Equipment, has not followed through. He said UCLA is reviewing the new rules.

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