Higher Education Quick Takes

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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.

Friday, January 29, 2010 - 3:00am

A report released today by the Data Quality Campaign assesses progress in state efforts to use longitudinal student-level data to gauge and improve students' progress through the educational system. The report concludes that states have made significant progress in building data systems (with a big financial and policy push from the Obama administration) but far less headway in using the data to change educational practices.

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.

Friday, January 29, 2010 - 3:00am

The Institute for International Education has created an emergency grants fund to help students from Haiti on campuses in the United States. Colleges may nominate up to five students for awards of up to $2,000 to those who are facing financial hardships because of the devastation caused by the earthquake. Details and nomination forms may be found here.

Friday, January 29, 2010 - 3:00am

Negotiators involved in this week's final round of negotiated rule making on revisions to the U.S. Department of Education's regulations on the disbursal of federal financial aid funds said late Thursday they wouldn't be putting much more effort in trying to reach agreement on the most contentious proposal being debated. In draft form, the rule requires that debt repayments be no more than 8 percent of the annual salaries of recent graduates of programs that prepare students for "gainful employment." The panel attempted to make progress on the issue Thursday morning, but differences seemed too large to bridge. Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, said federal and non-federal negotiators agreed they "probably won't get finished" with working out all the concerns over the proposed rule. The group, he added, would instead focus on trying to reach agreement on revisions to all the other rules under consideration and then return to discussion of the debt-to-income ratio Friday if time permits.

Agreement on much-debated rules on incentive compensation for recruiters seemed "close enough," Hartle said, that negotiators agreed to continue discussion Friday. Negotiators would have to reach consensus on the full package of 14 rules for them to be adopted without further revision by the department. Without an agreement on the debt-to-income ratio, or any other issue, the department would be free to make further changes to any and all rules, though it's likely officials wouldn't substantively edit any rules on which the panel reached agreement.

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