Faculty members from Marquette and Seattle Universities took out a full-page ad in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to condemn Marquette's recent decision to rescind a job offer as dean to a Seattle professor who is a lesbian and whose scholarship includes issues of lesbian sexuality, the Journal Sentinel reported. "We believe this action has caused significant harm to the reputation of Marquette University," the ad says. "It threatens our credibility and integrity as a university. It has caused suffering among students, alumni, staff, and faculty, and it will cost Marquette considerably in terms of community relationships, research, and recruiting and retaining students and faculty." University officials have denied that the rescinded job offer was discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Higher Education Quick Takes
An investigation by Nebraska officials into Ben Johnson's expenses during his presidency at Peru State College has ended because the former leader of the institution committed suicide last month, The Journal Star of Lincoln, Neb., reported. The investigation found that he had apparently used about $43,000 in university funds to cover personal expenses. Further, the inquiry found that Johnson had failed to reveal a felony conviction when he applied for the Peru State job. Johnson had recently been hired as interim vice president of enrollment services at Fairmont State University, in West Virginia.
Many higher education groups have been condemning the new Arizona immigration law and vowing to boycott the state. But many of those associations don't have anything currently scheduled in Arizona. One group that does is ACPA -- College Student Educators International. It announced Monday that it is moving a January meeting for mid-level managers, currently slated to be in Tucson, to a yet-to-be-determined location outside the state. Holding a meeting in a state "that could potentially create an atmosphere of exclusion, harassment, or an unwelcome environment for an ACPA member ... is problematic and goes against our fundamental values of inclusion," said a statement from the association.
Ann Curry, the NBC journalist, started off her commencement address at Wheaton College Saturday by naming some distinguished alumni: the Rev. Billy Graham, the former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and the director Wes Craven, among others. Unfortunately for Curry, she was at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, and five of the six people she cited are graduates of Wheaton College in Illinois. The sole graduate Curry named correctly was her fellow newscaster Lesley Stahl. While the two Wheatons share a name and a liberal arts tradition, they are quite different. The Illinois Wheaton is a Christian college, while the Massachusetts Wheaton is not. Until 1988, the Massachusetts Wheaton was a women's college -- so the alumni Curry incorrectly cited couldn't have gone there (at least at the time they were in college).
The Massachusetts Wheaton has a transcript and video of Curry's commencement address online, but they do not include the list of the other college's alumni. Michael Graca, a spokesman, said that he decided against "broadcasting information we knew to be inaccurate." While some of the Twitter criticism of Curry's error suggested that she should return any money she was paid for the address, Graca said she appeared without a fee. Curry sent an e-mail message to students and faculty members Monday noting some of the Wheaton alumni she wishes she had cited and apologizing for the error. "I am mortified by my mistake, and can only hope the purity of my motive, to find a way to connect with the graduates and to encourage them to a life of service, will allow you to forgive me," she wrote.
Faculty members are warning that the University of Alabama at Huntsville is "in peril" because of flawed priorities, falling applicant interest and deep budget cuts, The Huntsville Times reported. Fifty-two faculty members issued a letter about their concerns last week, arguing that while the administration makes major investments in some areas, key academic fields face debilitating cuts. The university released a statement saying that while it would discuss these concerns with professors, it would not "debate these issues in the media."
The board of the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District is promising tighter oversight of senior administrators after the release of a law firm's investigation of certain activities of Chancellor Rosa Perez, who is currently on sick leave and will be leaving her position in June, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The board is also asking the local district attorney to investigate whether Perez violated laws. The law firm's report concluded that Perez may have violated conflict of interest laws by buying a house and sharing expenses with her partner, whom she supervised as an administrator at the college. Further, the report cited numerous trips -- some of which her partner made as well -- as being "not cost effective" for the college district. The investigations were prompted by reports in the Mercury News and KGO-TV. Perez could not be reached for comment.
The Texas Board of Education on Friday approved new history standards that have angered many historians, The Dallas Morning News reported. Critics have said that the standards inject political views into most consideration of modern history, elevating the role of President Reagan above others, for example, and offering a much more positive assessment of Sen. Joseph McCarthy than many scholars find justified. In a victory for the critics, the board returned Thomas Jefferson to the list of political philosophers considered worth studying.
A poll of professors at Kean University, commissioned by the faculty union but managed by an outside group, found that 83 percent expressed no confidence in President Dawood Farahi. Farahi has been involved in a series of disputes with professors, the most recent over a reorganization plan pushed by the administration to eliminate most departments and merge academic programs into larger schools. Kean officials did not respond to requests for comment on the vote.
Betty White won a spot guest hosting "Saturday Night Live" after a massive Facebook campaign was begun on her behalf. While academics were not instrumental in that effort, they are very much a force behind a new Facebook campaign to have Slavoj Å½iÅ¾ek named as a guest host of SNL. While the philosopher and sociologist has something of a cult following, why SNL? "Let's face it: Å½iÅ¾ek is hilarious. The man will surely shine as host of Saturday Night Live," says the campaign's home page, which suggests Britney Spears as the musical guest for the show. Posts on the campaign's wall feature fans' favorite Å½iÅ¾ek moments, and some alternate suggestions for musical guest (Lady Gaga, of course, although others argue for the Slovenian group Laibach).
The campaign was created by Alexander Hanna, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Via e-mail, he said that the idea came to him during an IM discussion with a friend at 3 a.m. one day last week. While Hanna acknowledged that Å½iÅ¾ek probably lacks Betty White's fan base, "there's some pie-in-the-sky vision I have of enough non-academics learning of the group to dig and find out who he is, then joining the group, leading to some kind of grand introduction of public intellectualism in the U.S." Should Lorne Michaels call for skit ideas, Hanna suggested "a rambling monologue about how the decadence of late capitalism has culminated into this one moment" or possibly a Å½iÅ¾ek discussion of applying the ideas of his Pervert's Guide to Cinema to live sketch comedy.
Students at San Diego State University, who have for years taken advantage of their proximity to Mexico for various education and research programs, are protesting a California State University System decision shutting down all joint programs in Tijuana, the Los Angeles Times reported. While Cal State officials say the move was necessary in light of a surge in drug-related violence, the students say that parts of Tijuana are quite safe and that valuable projects are being stymied. On Saturday, 35 students and faculty members went to Tijuana to take part in everyday activities -- hoping to draw attention to the normal functioning that is evident in the city.