Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - 3:00am

The job market for new college graduates has fallen by as much as 40 percent in the past year, according to new data from the Michigan State University Collegiate Employment Research Institute. The Michigan State study is based on surveys of 2,500 companies and other hiring entities. Last year, the survey projected an 8 to 10 percent drop in hiring, but the final figures are closer to 40, and an additional 2 percent drop is anticipated on top of that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - 3:00am

Williams College has fired a visiting professor who pleaded guilty to federal charges of fraud last week, The Berkshire Eagle reported. Bernard Moore had been a visiting assistant professor, and he had been the organizer of a political symposium that Williams canceled Friday. The fraud charges largely related to conduct prior to his arrival at the college, and a spokesman said that there was no evidence that he misused Williams funds.

Monday, November 16, 2009 - 3:00am

An ethics scholar at Oxford University, Toby Ord, has pledged to give 1 million pounds (about $1.67 million) over the course of his career to charities in developing nations, BBC reported. Toby Ord, 30, estimates that he'll earn about 1.5 million pounds and that he doesn't need that much, and wants to inspire others to make similarly ambition donations.

Monday, November 16, 2009 - 3:00am

Graduate teaching assistants at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are planning to go on strike today, following the failure to complete a contract agreement. The union, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, said that while many contract issues were resolved, the university would not offer assurances about the continuation of tuition waivers. "The administration’s refusal to guarantee the continuation of its current tuition waiver practice not only means that the majority of graduate employees could be forced to pay thousands of dollars in additional tuition charges, but also indicates its plans to implement such a change. By making graduate education untenable for all but the most affluent students, the administration is abandoning its responsibility to ensure access to the highest level of public education for all," said a union statement. The university issued a statement in which it characterized the union's interest in tuition waivers as new and not a subject over great disagreements. The union "has chosen to strike over an issue that historically has never been a source of contention between the union and management, and about which there is no indication would be a source of contention in the future," said the university's official statement. In turn, the union issued a new statement asking why, if the university was committed to the tuition waivers, it wouldn't agree to add the desired language to the contract.

Monday, November 16, 2009 - 3:00am

Brooke Magnanti, a research scientist at Britain's University of Bristol, has revealed that she is the author of a blog and memoirs of work as a prostitute, and is the source of the material that was used to create the television series "Secret Diary of a Call Girl," BBC News reported. She said that she worked as a prostitute to pay for her doctoral work. A spokesman for the University of Bristol, said: "This aspect of Dr Magnanti's past is not relevant to her current role at the university."

Monday, November 16, 2009 - 3:00am

Southwestern College, a community college in California, has announced that no charges will be filed against three professors who were suspended (with pay, but without charges) amid allegations by college officials that some of them may have violated the law in relation to a protest of the college's response to budget cuts, News 10 San Diego reported. The suspensions, which the college denied were suspensions although the professors were barred from campus, angered many faculty groups. The professors are now back teaching, and the faculty union -- whose president was among those suspended -- has said it won't sue. Another rally was held Friday, this time with protesters questioning the way the college has tried to limit protests.

Monday, November 16, 2009 - 3:00am

Google along with a group of publishers and authors has proposed changes to the settlement of legal challenges to Google's mammoth book archiving project. The changes, among other things, limit the international application of the settlement. The changes did not win over some of the leading critics of the earlier agreement. Within higher education, opinion has been split, with some colleges in favor and other academic groups expressing concerns. Charles Lowery, executive director of the Association of Research Libraries, one of the academic organizations that has expressed concern about the previous version of the settlement, said via e-mail that the group was still studying the changes and couldn't yet take a position on them.

Monday, November 16, 2009 - 3:00am

Keith Fagnou, 38, a professor at the University of Ottawa who was considered a rising star in chemistry, died last week, apparently from H1N1 complications, The Globe and Mail reported. Colleagues were stunned by the death. Unlike many H1N1-related deaths, no underlying health conditions were noted in Fagnou's illness.

Monday, November 16, 2009 - 3:00am

A state legislator in Alabama -- with backing from Gov. Bob Riley, a fellow Republican -- is organizing support for legislation to cut off state funds to public universities that offer benefits to the same-sex partners of employees, the Associated Press reported. The move follows announcements by the University of Alabama at Birmingham that it was starting domestic partner benefits October 1. The University of Alabama at Huntsville will start offering the benefits January 1. Defenders of the benefits have noted that they are key to recruiting and retaining some employees who may look elsewhere if these benefits aren't offered.

Monday, November 16, 2009 - 3:00am

Students took over the Science and Engineering Library at the University of California at Santa Cruz Friday night to keep it open that night and Saturday -- as had been the case before budget cuts limited its hours. A statement from the students said: "We realize that this one action will not force the university administration to change its disastrous course. Nevertheless, our action will allow the library to remain open for students Friday night and Saturday. The UCSC administration lacks the capacity to provide a quality education and so we have begun, as students, to take our education into our own hands." A spokesman for the university told The Contra Costa Times: "Regrettably, this particular activity is costing us additional resources as we have to staff the library as long as they are in there. It's going to strain already depleted library funding."

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