An Ethiopian court has sentenced a Bucknell University professor to death, but the sentence was in absentia as the professor is at Bucknell, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The professor is Berhanu Nega, who teaches economics. He calls the charges of which he was convicted -- that he and four others planned an attack on the government's leaders - a tactic to undermine those like himself who have called for democratic reforms in his home country. "By delivering this sentence they are trying to terrorize the population more than anything else," Nega told the Inquirer. "It is their way of telling everybody if you fight for democracy we will kill you, that is the message they are sending."
Higher Education Quick Takes
The British government has urged universities to develop "fast track" college degrees that could be finished in two years instead of the traditional three, The Guardian reported. Government officials said such degrees could save money both for students and the government. University and student groups are skeptical of the idea.
An adjunct humanities professor has sued the president of Edison Community College, in Ohio, over the president’s refusal to rehire him because he videotaped a contentious board meeting. Quincy Essinger filed a complaint in federal court against Kenneth A. Yowell -- who has led the college for more than 22 years -- five months after Inside Higher Ed reported on the ouster of Essinger and Stephen D. Marlowe, a full-time English professor. Essinger is seeking financial damages for a range of charges against Yowell ranging from defamation to having his First Amendment rights violated. Both Essinger and Marlowe were publicly critical of Yowell and were active in a faculty vote of no confidence in his leadership earlier this year. Marlowe was reinstated in July, after it was noted that he was terminated in violation of his contract. Essinger, however, has not been in contact with the college since and has never been given a formal reason for his not being rehired. Mindy McNutt, former Edison vice president, and Yowell told Inside Higher Ed in July that Essinger’s having videotaped the board meeting was one of Yowell’s reasons for not rehiring him. Monday, Yowell wrote, via e-mail, that Essinger's suit against him and the college "has no merit" and "is replete with factual errors."
The University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa already is on record in favor of skipping a few days of classes to allow students to attend the national championship of college football. Football, it seems, also trumps the legal system. The Christian Science Monitor reported that a state judge agreed to delay a civil trial so lawyers could attend the game. One lawyer's motion requesting the delay said: "Such an event only comes infrequently during a person’s lifetime and is an achievement of such a magnitude that all involved in this litigation should want everyone to fully participate in this achievement."
Ain Shams University, in Cairo, has announced that it will appeal a court ruling allowing its female students to wear a full face veil - the niqab - in campus dormitories, AFP reported. Many Egyptian educators have opposed the wearing of the niqab on campus, and another court ruling is expected soon on a university ban on the niqab during exams. The court's ruling in the Ain Shams case, however, said that wearing the face veil "is one example of freedom that no administrative body or any other body can ban."
"My Lazy American Students," an op-ed in The Boston Globe, is attracting considerable online debate. The piece -- by Kara Miller, who teaches history and rhetoric at Babson College -- compares her American and foreign students. "My 'C,' 'D,' and 'F' students this semester are almost exclusively American, while my students from India, China, and Latin America have -- despite language barriers -- generally written solid papers, excelled on exams, and become valuable class participants," writes Miller. She compares the way her foreign students listen to everything she says, while "[t]oo many 18-year-old Americans, meanwhile, text one another under their desks (certain they are sly enough to go unnoticed), check e-mail, decline to take notes, and appear tired and disengaged." Reader reactions vary widely. Some credit Miller with drawing attention to a real problem. Others say she doesn't understand higher education. Wrote one commenter: "Sorry, teach, but our American kids know that college is for boozing, drugs and hooking up. They'll start working hard when it matters -- the day they get their first job."
Sen. Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, managed to insert a provision in the Senate's version of health care legislation that would provide $100 million for a university hospital that he hopes will be the one at the University of Connecticut, The Hartford Courant reported. The provision was written without identifying UConn. Rather, it calls for the funds to go to an academic health center at a public research university that includes a state's only public medical and dental schools. UConn fits the criteria, but so do medical centers in about a dozen other states.
The National Institutes of Health is planning to propose new rules for researchers receiving its grants, requiring that they disclose financial ties to medical entities and barring them from publishing articles that are "ghostwritten" by drug company officials, USA Today reported. The proposed rules follow Congressional inquiries into reports of conflicts of interest by some prominent biomedical researchers.
The American Association of University Professors on Friday announced an investigation into "issues of shared governance" at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. While the AAUP did not detail the nature of its inquiries, RPI professors have harshly criticized the way the institute abolished and then reconstituted faculty governance, as well a dispute last year in which RPI shut down a controversial art exhibit.
Faculty members at Indiana University of Pennsylvania have voted overwhelmingly that they lack confidence in the leadership of President Tony Atwater, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Faculty leaders criticized the president's management style and spending decisions. Atwater, who attended the meeting, said that much of the faculty frustration was based on the difficulty of the decisions he has had to make and misinformation about them.