Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, February 1, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Central Missouri has lost a major donor -- a Dutch executive -- over his concerns about comments by a radio host that the donor found anti-Semitic, The Kansas City Star reported. The donor is a Holocaust survivor who has given to the university since befriending a former president of the university. The radio show host's comments -- on a station that broadcasts the university's athletic events -- were critical of the current president of the university, who is Jewish and who is leaving office this year, for not having a Christmas tree on the lawn of the president's residence.

Monday, February 1, 2010 - 3:00am

California Western School of Law and the University of California at San Diego have started talks about the private, independent law school joining the university, The San Diego Business Journal reported. The news comes as Massachusetts officials consider an increasingly controversial plan for the Southern New England College of Law, also a private free-standing institution, to become part of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

Monday, February 1, 2010 - 3:00am

Continuing our coverage of chickens in higher education, we turn to KABC-TV in California, which reports on a lone chicken that has become friendly with many students at Glendale Community College, and has been roaming the campus for months. While the fowl is friendly with students who feed it and television reporters who film it, it is speedy enough that it has evaded capture by animal control officials.

Monday, February 1, 2010 - 3:00am

In the latest twist of a curious legal case involving allegations of identity theft, cyber-bullying, and two-millennia-old religious artifacts, a well-known University of Chicago professor has been implicated in a complex, Internet-based scheme to smear opponents of his work. Norman Golb, a professor of Jewish history and civilization at Chicago, has been mostly a sideline figure since his son, Raphael, was arrested last March after allegedly creating dozens of Web aliases and using them to harass and discredit scholars who disagree with his father’s theories about the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls. But new court documents point to evidence suggesting that Norman Golb, his wife, Ruth, and their other son, Joel, were aware of the alias-based campaign and may have assisted in carrying it out. Raphael Golb stands accused of harassing various scholars who do not believe that the Dead Sea Scrolls originated in Jerusalem — a theory Norman Golb advocated in a 1995 book. The new documents, released last month, purport to show transcripts of e-mails exchanges among members of the Golb family indicating coordinated efforts to advance Norman Golb’s theories though Web aliases. They also include sharp criticisms of Schiffman, which the prosecution is trying to use as evidence of motive and intent for the identity theft — the only felony charge against Raphael Golb. The evidence was released to the court after the defense moved to suppress it. Norman Golb could not be reached for comment.

Raphael Golb’s attorneys are arguing that the e-mails are immaterial to the case since they do not contain any of the threats, obscenity, or “fighting words” that would constitute harassment. If the state had a compelling interest in limiting criticism, they wrote in a court memo, all of New York’s editorial writers would be in prison.

Norman Golb, meanwhile, said in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed that he is not privy to his sons' e-mail correspondence and is “certainly unaware of any ‘smear campaign’ in the various articles about the Scrolls controversy attributed to Raphael.” He added: “It is unfortunate that my critics resort to attacking members of my family rather than engaging with me in scholarly debate on the merits.”

Monday, February 1, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of California is rare among colleges in that it has a team that checks out some of the claims that applicants make, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The verification process is random -- about 1 percent of applicants -- but officials believe that the possibility of being scrutinized is enough to keep fictional claims to a minimum. The article noted that while most colleges don't verify claims on personal statements or lists of accomplishments, they do verify test scores and grades by relying on information provided by testing services and high schools, instead of letting applicants self-report.

Monday, February 1, 2010 - 3:00am

A federal judge has ruled that a blind student at the University of California at Los Angeles can use a computer-assisted reading device for the state bar exam, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The student used the device -- which magnifies words and broadcasts them for her -- in law school, but had to sue for the right to use the device on the bar exam.

Monday, February 1, 2010 - 3:00am

The Obama Administration has assured Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, that it is exploring options to deal with concerns raised by Hatch and others about the Bowl Championship Series. Hatch has asked for an antitrust investigation by the Justice Department, and the administration said it is reviewing that request. A letter to Hatch said that the administration also is "exploring other options that might be available to address concerns with the college football post-season." One option identified would be to encourage the National Collegiate Athletic Association to “take control of the college football post-season." Other options listed include asking a governmental or non-governmental entity to "study the benefits, costs, and feasibility of a playoff system," and asking the Federal Trade Commission to "examine the legality of the current system under consumer protection laws." Senator Hatch, based in part on his view that the current bowl system has been unfair to the University of Utah, has been a leading critic of the way the football champion is determined.

Monday, February 1, 2010 - 3:00am

Stereotypes and lack of information are holding back high school boys from going to college, according to new research published by Judith Kleinfeld in the journal Gender Issues. Kleinfeld interviewed high school seniors in Alaska -- which has a very large gender gap. She found that some high school boys were unaware of the likely need for a college degree and that many believed that boys are just lazy or prone to peer pressure. In her article, Kleinfeld suggests that stereotypes may be limiting boys' ambition. Kleinfeld, a psychologist at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, has in the past clashed with women's groups by questioning research showing discrimination against female students and faculty members.

Monday, February 1, 2010 - 3:00am

Williams College announced Sunday that it is moving away from its policy, announced amid similar moves by many elite private colleges, of eliminating loans from students' aid packages. A memo from Bill Wagner, the interim president, said that the college was continuing to add more money to financial aid, and to meet students' full need. "Our loan expectations were already among the lowest in the country (and zero for the lowest-income students) when we eliminated them for all aided students beginning in 2008-9. It now seems prudent to reintroduce modest loans for some aided students, beginning with the class that enters in the fall of 2011," said Wagner. "No current students will be affected; neither will those who enter this fall. As before, families below a certain income, and with typical assets, will not be expected to borrow at all. Others will be offered loans on a sliding scale up to a maximum size that will again be among the lowest in the country..... [W]e are convinced that Williams will remain financially attractive to aided students at all levels of income."

Friday, January 29, 2010 - 3:00am

The Maricopa Community College District's board has authorized Chancellor Rufus Glasper to carry out a series of efficiency moves, The Arizona Republic reported. Among the possible shifts: increases in class sizes, greater reliance on adjunct faculty members, outsourcing of landscaping and a new information technology fee. The consultants who developed the options said that they could save the district up to $48 million a year.

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