Jackson State University's president, Ronald Mason Jr., has received considerable public criticism for his idea of merging the state's three public, historically black universities into one. But a review by The Jackson Clarion-Ledger of e-mail to and from Mason about the idea shows that some in the state who have not spoken in favor of the plan were either supportive in private or at least open to considering the ideas. The e-mail messages also include some tough criticism and some of Mason's frustrations about the difficulty of talking about these issues. "If I can't have private conversations with members of the Black Caucus about the future of HBCUs without them trying to get me fired, then who am I supposed to talk to?" he said in one e-mail.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Making selections for those bracket pools takes time away from everything else, including scholarship, according to a new study by a Duke University professor. Charles Clotfelter, Z. Smith Reynolds Professor of Public Policy at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, analyzed data on journal article viewing at 78 research libraries. He found that a drop in usage in the week after the pairings are announced for the National Collegiate Athletic Association men's basketball tournament. Further, he found additional drops at colleges and universities that won "toss-up" games, in the days following those games. “This drop in research activity in these libraries is quantitative evidence of the NCAA tournament’s power to influence patterns of work,” Clotfelter said.
An angry custodial worker at Ohio State University who had received a poor performance review shot two other employees, killing one of them, before killing himself Tuesday, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The university is offering counseling and Gordon Gee, the president, issued a statement offering condolences to the family of the employee who was killed.
Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, says he hasn't given up on the University of California at Irvine. His appearance at Irvine last month set off a wide debate about civility and protest when his talk was repeatedly interrupted by protesters. Now Oren has published an open letter in the university's student newspaper offering to come back to Irvine. "I came to UCI for the opportunity to exchange ideas — a reasonable intention that was hijacked by a minority of students. The disruptive measures exhibited by these students only underscore the importance for dialogue, especially on the frontline of higher learning," Oren wrote. "I would willingly return to your campus and meet with those individuals whose views may not agree with mine as long as we respect the decorum of dialogue and free speech. Middle East issues are not devoid of emotion or nuance. Only with respect and sensitivity from all sides can we attain the conditions necessary to tackle one of the great issues of our time and realize the vision of peace."
Colleges may be freezing many salaries this year, but a new athletic competition has emerged in the salaries of top assistant football coaches, USA Today reported. Last year, only two assistant coaches earned more than $650,000, but this year, six will be earning at least $700,000. And nearly a dozen universities have signed contracts increasing the compensation for offensive or defensive coordinators by at least 38 percent.
Community colleges in Nebraska have reached a compromise over a funding dispute that led Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, to sue the state's five other community colleges, The Omaha World-Herald reported. Metro State has argued that the state's funding formulas favor rural institutions unfairly. Under the deal reached to resolved the dispute, the suit will be dropped, Metro will receive $1.8 million this year from the other colleges while keeping the formula in effect for the year, and the six colleges will negotiate a new state formula for use in the future.
Jonathan Spence, a Yale University historian who is one of the leading experts on China, was named Monday as the 2010 Jefferson Lecturer, the highest honor given by the federal government to a humanities scholar each year. Spence's lecture, to be delivered May 20 in Washington, will be called “When Minds Met: China and the West in the 17th Century."
A student organization at the University of Nevada at Reno, UNR Students for Liberty, held a rally Monday to call for the abolition of student government. With balloons, ponies and pizza, the rally cost about $3,000. KOLO-TV News reported that the group got that money from ... the student government.
The University of Kentucky fire marshall is calling for the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house to be closed for the rest of this semester and next semester following an unusual and unsafe fire incident, The Herald-Leader reported. According to authorities, they found multiple fire code violations after responding to an incident in which a fraternity member set fire to a friend who was wrapped in toilet paper.