The American Federation of Teachers on Monday began "What Should Count?," a Web site with articles and discussions about the accountability movement in higher education. The goal of the site is to provide "a platform for bringing the faculty and staff perspective to those who create policies and practices around these issues."
Higher Education Quick Takes
The American Association of University Professors on Monday announced that it is beginning a formal investigation into the case of Ivor van Heerden, who was a leading whistle blower in the analysis of what went wrong after Katrina hit New Orleans, and who is suing Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, charging that he was fired from his position at the university's hurricane research center because of anger over his criticisms of the Army Corps of Engineers. The university, while declining to discuss details about the case, has denied that he lost his job for that reason.
More than 1,000 students from Turkey have moved to universities in Bosnia, in part because women there can wear headscarves that are banned by law in Turkey, Reuters reported. One student said: "If the situation in Turkey changed, we would not come to study here.... Bosnian people are more tolerant than Turkish people."
Amid all the concerns about financing for public higher education in California, an article in the Los Angeles Times questions some of the priorities that get funds that might have gone to classroom-related expenses. Among the expenses: renovating a basketball arena and making up for a bad investment.
Several college towns in New Jersey are organizing a drive for legislation to charge colleges $100 for every full-time student and to give the funds to local towns to finance various services that colleges use, New Jersey.com reported. College officials are opposing the idea, saying that it would increase students' tuition costs.
Manuel Pangilinan has resigned as board chair of Ateneo de Manila University, in the Philippines, after reports surfaced that his graduation address to students included unattributed portions that had been delivered elsewhere by President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling and others, the BBC reported. The network noted that he has spoken previously about the importance of ethics in higher education.
Two civil rights groups have sued Georgia in federal court over the state's treatment of public historically black colleges, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The suit charges that the state discriminates against Albany State, Fort Valley State and Savannah State Universities by refusing to give them adequate financing or the prestigious research and graduate programs found at the top predominantly white universities. Officials of the University System of Georgia said that they had not seen the suit and that they do not comment on litigation. But a spokesman told the Journal-Constitution that many factors go into budget allocations, including institutional missions and performance measures.
Gateway Technical College, in Wisconsin, announced that an investigation confirmed student complaints that an instructor was offering extra credit to those who made charitable contributions to certain organizations, The Journal Times reported. While officials said that there was no malice involved, they said the incentives were inappropriate and that the instructor will stop offering them.
A new blog -- UMagazinology -- is attempting to support alumni and other college and university magazines that aspire not to just be house organs, but to provide valuable journalism at a time when serious coverage of the arts and sciences is disappearing from many newspapers. The founders of the blog have ties to the alumni magazine at Johns Hopkins University, which has a reputation for the quality of its writing and design. The blog aims to support such efforts and to call for magazine editors to focus on quality in ways that go beyond presidential updates.
The blog recently published a credo: "1. The only people required to read our magazines are our life partners, and half of them duck out on us. For everyone else, reading a university magazine is voluntary. 2. If your magazine is not being read, then every dollar that your school pours into it might as well be poured down a storm drain. 3. What do people read? People read stories. Engaging, compelling, deeply reported, well-crafted stories. True stories. 4. Ergo, if you want people to read your magazine, and thus not waste your school’s money, you need to tell great true stories, real stories that have narrative drive and vivid actors and meaningful knowledge, all conveyed with a storyteller’s verve."
At the same time, the blog post acknowledged how unpopular that view may be with some in higher education. "There will never be a shortage of senior administrators, deans, development communications VPs, alumni association directors, and public affairs professionals steadfast in their belief that the graduates of your academy will shove aside The New Yorker, the sports page, the laptop, and the remote in order to read the status of the latest capital campaign, news from the Muskegon alumni chapter, six superficial profiles of earnest undergraduates who are passionate about giving back to the community, and The Dean’s Message," the post says. "But the truth is, almost nobody reads that stuff. It’s boring, it insults our readers’ intelligence, and it can’t possibly compete with a new episode of Lost."
The Republican candidates for governor are making an issue of the California law that allows those who attended the state's high schools for three years and graduated in California to enroll at public colleges at in-state tuition rates -- even if the students don't have the legal right to reside in the United States. The Sacramento Bee reported that one candidate, Meg Whitman, wants the students barred from enrolling. Her opponent, Steve Poizner, wants the students to lose in-state tuition rates. While the Republican candidates have been speaking out on the issue, the Bee noted that relatively few students in the state's colleges and universities have enrolled under the law.