Leaders of the American Anthropological Association, facing criticism from some physical anthropologists and other scholars over dropping the word "science" from the organization's plan for the future, have issued a statement saying that the controversy has been exaggerated. "We believe that the source of the problem speaks to the power of symbols: we replaced the term 'science' in the preface of this planning document by a more specific (and inclusive) list of research domains, while explicitly acknowledging that the Association’s central focus is to promote the production, circulation, and application of anthropological research findings," says the statement from the organization's officers.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Stacey Brook, an economist at the University of Iowa, has developed productivity rankings for college football teams (for both offenses and defenses) that he believes do a better job of ranking teams than does the much-debated methodology used to place teams in the Bowl Championship Series. The economist's formula uses 17 statistics, including yards gained, number of first downs, touchdown scoring percent, number of offensive plays, missed and made field goals, and turnovers. Information about the system may be found here and current rankings using this system (which differ considerably from the official rankings) may be found here.
Robert L. Harris Jr. has resigned as director of the Africana Studies and Research Center following a move by the university to situate the center as part of the College of Arts and Sciences. The faculty of the center posted a statement of opposition to the change on the program's website, saying that they were "appalled" by the decision, which they said was made without consulting them, and without any evidence that the change would be good for the center. The statement applauded the "principled" decision of Harris to resign his administrative post. Supporters of the center are planning a protest today, saying that the autonomy of the center -- which until now has reported directly to the provost, independent of any other unit at Cornell -- was in danger. Kent Fuchs, the provost, issued a statement in which he said that the new organizational structure would provide more support for the center, link it more closely to relevant academic disciplines, follow a model used by other leading universities and allow for the creation of a doctoral program. "In its new academic home, Africana studies will retain its faculty, staff, and North Campus facility, and receive the critical academic and administrative support that a college is best able to provide, including a plan to increase the number of its faculty, for which I have committed the necessary resources," the statement said.
Enrollment declines are forcing Calvin College to eliminate 20 full-time positions, The Grand Rapids Press reported. Next year’s enrollment is projected to be 3,902, down from 3,991 this year and more than 4,200 in 2007. Officials said that they could not continue to balance the budget with small cuts and salary freezes.
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.
Students and other supporters of ethnic studies held a protest at the University of Texas at Austin Wednesday, arguing that proposed budget cuts to those programs went too far, The Austin American-Statesman reported. At the same time, officials said that the cuts -- currently planned at 41 percent each for the Center for African and African American Studies and the Center for Mexican American Studies -- were being scaled back as they were too deep for priority areas.
Some faculty members in a program designed to teach Texas college students how to gain access to public records could get in trouble if they encourage those students to seek records from their own universities, the Associated Press reported. The Texas A&M University System bars faculty members from encouraging students to seek access to documents anywhere in the university system. System officials defended the rule by saying that students could make such requests on their own.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association ruled Wednesday that Cam Newton, quarterback for Auburn University's football team and the leading contender for the Heisman Trophy, is eligible to play in this weekend's Southeastern Conference championship game. Auburn declared Newton ineligible to play Tuesday following an NCAA finding that Newton's father broke NCAA rules by actively trying to shop his son around to institutions, including Mississippi State University, for payment. Concurrently, Auburn asked the NCAA for Newton's eligibility to be reinstated. Kevin Lennon, the NCAA's vice president for academic and membership affairs, said in a statement: "Based on the information available to the reinstatement staff at this time, we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity, which led to his reinstatement. From a student-athlete reinstatement perspective, Auburn University met its obligation under NCAA bylaw 14.11.1. Under this threshold, the student-athlete has not participated while ineligible.” It is not clear whether the NCAA and Auburn are still investigating whether Newton or his father received money for his playing at Auburn.
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.
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.