A local sheriff unhappy about having been used as an example of a double dipping employee charged into a classroom at Mercer County Community College and forced the offending professor to apologize, the Times of Trenton reported. Its account, and that of The College Voice, Mercer's student newspaper, said that Sheriff Kevin C. Larkin had been told via a student's text message that Michael Glass, a political science professor, had cited the fact that Larkin receives a police pension on top of his current salary as sheriff as evidence of the double dipping that contributes to New Jersey's $2 billion budget gap. (The class discussion reportedly also discussed the fact that Larkin was divorced and had hefty alimony payments.) Larkin reportedly tried to call Glass and, unable to reach him, came to the campus, where he reportedly spoke to him for several minutes in the hallway outside his classroom, before Glass returned and, with the sheriff by his side, apologized for "making disparaging comments" about him. The college's president, Patricia C. Donohue, issued a statement saying that "we do not think it is appropriate for any visitor to interrupt a class" and that "we plan to follow up with the individual about what our visitor policy is." Robin Schore, dean of Mercer's liberal arts division, was more forceful, telling the student newspaper that such an incident "has a chilling effect on free speech.... The idea of having a police presence challenging a professor and taking him out of class is something seen in a police state. It's outrageous."
Higher Education Quick Takes
With good jobs for new M.B.A. graduates in short supply and business schools anxious about their soon-to-be graduates' employment practices, business schools are getting creative about reaching corporate recruiters, The Wall Street Journal reported. Some are arranging for video interviews to deal with corporate recruiters who are reluctant to travel. Others are flying students to visit corporate offices, rather than waiting for companies to come to campus.
A panel charged with recommending ways for financially troubled Brandeis University to save money has proposed the elimination or shrinkage of numerous academic programs -- with associated reductions in faculty slots, although some courses in these subjects would continue to be taught. Among the proposed cuts likely to be controversial, given that Brandeis describes itself as a nonsectarian Jewish-sponsored university, are the major in Hebrew language and literature and the minor in Yiddish and East European Jewish culture. Other proposed changes include the elimination of the anthropology doctorate program, cuts in the number of university-supported doctoral students in chemistry and computer science, and cuts in the theater design program and the theater company. Several independent science departments would also be merged.
Seven years after the University of Mississippi abandoned the use of Colonel Reb as its mascot, the university is considering restoring some (other) mascot, and once again is debating questions of race and symbolism, the Associated Press reported. The old mascot was seen as a symbol of the slave-owning Old South. Now some loyalists are advocating for the old mascot while others just want some mascot. Today, students will vote only on the question of whether some mascot should be selected -- or whether the university should remain without one.
Berea College -- known for its strong academic programs for which students pay no tuition, but hold campus jobs -- has been having a debate about its finances and values. The board is getting ready to approve a call for larger enrollments and some modifications in academic and work programs, in light of the impact of endowment losses on the heavily endowment-dependent institution. But as The Lexington Herald-Leader reported, much of the discussion on campus has been dominated by a student proposal that top administrators' salaries not exceed six times the salaries of the lowest paid workers -- an idea that administrators have rejected, saying it would limit the ability to attract top talent.
These meetings, conferences, seminars and other events will be held in the coming weeks in and around higher education. They are among the many such that appear in our calendar on The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education. This listing will appear as a regular feature in this space.
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Overly free usage of someone else's words has ended another college presidency. Malone University, an independent institution in Canton, Ohio, announced Monday that its president, Gary Streit, had retired "in response to recent concerns about the use of unattributed materials in some of his speeches." The university's statement said that the president's decision to retire "has demonstrated to the students and public that the university's academic integrity standards apply equally to all members of the Malone community." Local news reports indicated that the review began after students noticed similarities between a January 13 address the president gave and various publications on the Internet. A spokeswoman said that the university would cease its investigation upon Streit's retirement.
A prisoner in Wisconsin described as a "lifelong con man" ran an alleged diploma mills behind bars, directing associates to manage a Web site for his unrecognized university, the Associated Press reported. Authorities at the prison discovered the situation in 2008, but the Web site was removed only recently, after the AP interviewed the Web designer involved.
For several years, some applicants to colleges have been submitting videos, but Tufts University this year started encouraging the practice, and more than 1,000 applicants did so. As The Boston Globe reported, some of the videos -- posted on YouTube -- have attracted strong fan bases, with viewers campaigning for the admission of some of the applicants.
The locations of academic meetings continue to provide calls for boycotts and much debate. Some new developments:
- Some political scientists have organized a boycott of the American Political Science Association's 2012 meeting because it is in New Orleans and Louisiana voters have approved measures banning not only gay marriage, but many potential benefits for domestic partners. Now another group of political scientists has organized a petition calling on colleagues to go to New Orleans, but to engage in protest while there to draw attention to legal bias against gay people. The petition states: "We ask: why would those of us who wish to protest the discriminatory laws of New Orleans and Louisiana do so by simply staying away? Wouldn't it be better to have the 500+ signatories to this boycott join hundreds if not thousands of others in some type of civil protest action in New Orleans during those 5 days in the summer of 2012? What about joining forces with anti-discrimination groups in New Orleans?.... Or, how about we agree to only visit New Orleans establishments -- restaurants, music venues, hotels, shops, etc. -- that have signed on to some anti-discrimination statement put out by the members of APSA? Economic patronage can have the same consequences as an economic boycott. Imagine the potential for local and national press if there was a list of New Orleans establishments that were considered acceptable to hundreds if not thousands of APSA goers. Such a move would essentially link this effort to the people of New Orleans in a way a boycott never could. We believe that changing the policies of Louisiana could just as legitimately be achieved by OUR PRESENCE as by our ABSENCE."
- The Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association has rejected calls to move its forthcoming meeting out of San Francisco, where unions are calling for boycotts of some hotels that will be used because of ongoing labor disputes. As a result, the University of San Francisco has offered space to presenters seeking to move their sessions out of hotels that are subject to the boycott.
- The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, which are scheduled to hold a joint higher education meeting next month in San Francisco, have announced that they are moving the meeting to San Jose. The hotels that will be used there have good labor relations, and by keeping the meeting close to San Francisco, organizers hope those who have already purchased plane tickets can still use them.