Idaho State University has fired Habib Sadid, a tenured engineering professor who had been suspended, the Associated Press reported. A faculty panel recently released an opinion that there was not enough evidence to justify Sadid's dismissal, but the university president said that his ouster was in the best interests of the institution. Sadid has been a long-time critic of the university's leaders and he says he is being fired for his dissent, while the university says that he crossed lines from dissent into abusive and unfair behavior.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The tenure denials of four women at DePaul University are leading to student protests and threats of legal action, the Chicago Tribune reported. Of 33 professors who went up for tenure this year, seven were rejected, five of whom were women. In the cases of four represented by the same lawyer, departmental reviews were quite positive, but a university-wide committee -- with professors in other fields -- raised questions about the candidacies. The university, without talking about specific cases, has defended the process as free of bias.
Students at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania have been protesting lack of access to a library, poor food service, and the way police treated a student who organized their protests, The Philadelphia Daily News reported. The student -- who was inspired to get more vocal after finding a moth in her salad at the university cafeteria -- staged an 11-day hunger strike over the issues. The library has been closed for renovations since January 2008 and students must use trailers to get access to books, which the students say take 24 hours to arrive. Lincoln officials say that they are working to get the library project and other improvements completed, but will not comment on the protests.
Samim Anghaie, and his wife, Susan, were arrested Friday and charged with fraud for using $3.7 million in government contracts for personal uses, such as the purchase of cars and homes, The Gainesville Sun reported. The two are also charged with submitting false information to get the contracts from various federal agencies. Samim Anghaie has been director of Florida's Innovative Nuclear Space Power and Propulsion Institute. The couple's lawyer said that they had no comment on the charges.
Just under 11.5 million students were enrolled in a college or university in the fall of 2008, and 39.6 percent of all Americans aged 18 to 24 were enrolled -- both figures that set records, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Pew Research Center. Community college enrollments accounted for almost all of the gains over the previous year, consistent with the enrollment booms they experience when the economy falters.
Presidents of Division I universities in the National Collegiate Athletic Association moved ahead Thursday on several changes designed to rein in perceived abuses and excesses in big-time college basketball. The Division I Board of Directors approved a set of recommendations aimed at limiting the flow of money to third parties (like informal sports agents) who have increasingly cropped up in the college recruiting pipeline, and increasing the penalties against college coaches who violate the new guidelines. The board also endorsed and put on the agenda for a vote at January's NCAA Convention a set of proposals that would cut the length of the men's basketball season by one game, to 28, and restrict the number of physical education courses that basketball players who transfer from two-year colleges can count toward their credentials. The association's Executive Committee also formally began its search to replace Myles Brand as the NCAA's president.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm decided not to veto funds for Michigan State University's agricultural extension programs after striking a deal in which the university agreed to restructure the programs to focus on environmental issues, the Detroit Free Press reported. Granholm had been widely expected to veto much of the $64 million in state funds that Michigan State's extension and experiment station programs receive annually, but changes announced by the university Wednesday appeared to have averted the cuts.
The University of Florida received attention this month for a spoof disaster planning document -- place on the university's Web site with other disaster preparedness documents -- on dealing with a zombie attack. On Wednesday, an improv student group called Theatre Strike Force demonstrated what a zombie attack might actually look like. The Independent Florida Alligator has video of the "attack."
The higher ed technology group Educause on Wednesday released its based on the results of its "Core Data Service Fiscal Year 2008 Summary Report," annual survey of 930 colleges and universities. This year's installment focuses on information technology trends on campuses between 2004 and 2008. Centralized IT funding rose, but only in proportion to enrollment and inflation. Outsourcing became more popular: In 2008, 70 percent of colleges used an external supplier for at least one IT function, and the use of homegrown systems decreased for all categories except library information systems. Colleges have increasingly turned to commercial vendors for learning management systems and e-mail clients, with a number of campuses considering dropping institutional e-mail addresses altogether, the report says.
Monday, Butler University formally withdrew the libel and defamation lawsuit it had filed against Jess Zimmerman, an undergraduate student who kept an anonymous blog that criticized senior administrators. The case did not name Zimmerman directly, and instead was filed against “Soodo Nym,” the moniker he used to write the blog. Even after Zimmerman went public and admitted he was “Soodo Nym,” Bobby Fong, Butler's president, told faculty multiple times, as he did in one statement, that “The university did not, has not, and will not sue Jess Zimmerman.” By university administrators' logic, because they had not named Zimmerman directly in the suit, they had not technically ever sued a student. Zimmerman and many professors and other students took issue with this stance in the days following his public outing. On Zimmerman's new blog, he even kept a running tally of the number of days the lawsuit remained active in Marion County court following Fong’s statement that the university was not suing him. Ultimately, the suit remained in force for a week.
Michael Blickman, the university’s attorney, noted in a statement that the university had begun an “internal disciplinary process” to punish Zimmerman last week, before the suit was dropped. Of the move, Blickman said, “The university and its administrators strongly support freedom of speech and academic freedom. The free exchange of ideas is fundamental to academic life. However, the University also has a commitment and duty to protect the safety of all its members and ensure the opportunity to teach and to learn freely.” Zimmerman, by contrast, criticized how the disciplinary process was being handled in his blog: “I worry about them since the president, on numerous occasions, has seen fit to pronounce me guilty. I would have hoped that we could have the trial first and the verdict second, but that isn’t the way Butler has decided to operate."