Higher Education Quick Takes

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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.

Friday, November 13, 2009 - 3:00am

Baylor University continues to feud with its alumni association, which is independent. Just last month, the university abandoned a controversial plan to absorb the association into the university. But the latest way for the university to show its respect for the association's independence is raising some eyebrows. The Waco Tribune-Herald reported that the university has barred the association from its traditional role at graduation ceremonies, at which the alumni group has traditionally presented awards and encouraged new graduates to stay involved with Baylor.

Friday, November 13, 2009 - 3:00am

Fairfield University is considering harassment charges against its student newspaper over a controversial column on campus sex, the Associated Press reported. The column -- which led some female students to charge harassment -- focused on one-night stands. The essay advised male students on how to navigate "the road to pleasure town" and to share details with friends to make sure "her walk of shame is an induction into your hall of fame."

Friday, November 13, 2009 - 3:00am

Ninety-eight percent of the 265 colleges and universities being tracked by the American College Health Association reported new cases last week of H1N1 or similar flu-like illnesses. The figure compares with 97 percent the prior week. Most of the cases being reported continue to be mild.

Friday, November 13, 2009 - 3:00am

Maine officials blocked Raymond Luc Levasseur from leaving the state to give a lecture scheduled for Thursday at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, although 200 people held a protest anyway, MassLive reported. The talk was scheduled, called off, and rescheduled -- with politicians criticizing the university for the invitation, and university officials saying that blocking Levasseur would have violated principles of free expression.

Friday, November 13, 2009 - 3:00am

The board of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology voted unanimously Thursday to reject a boycott of Israeli higher education. Some faculty members had proposed the boycott, while others opposed it. Many American groups urged the university not to adopt the measure. A statement from the board said: "As an academic institution, NTNU's mission is to stimulate the study of the causes of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and how it can be resolved. This means that the university is also dependent on being able to cooperate with Israeli academics, and hear their views on the conflict."

Thursday, November 12, 2009 - 3:00am

The American Association of University Professors has lifted its censure of Tulane University, following an agreement that Tulane would not cite the move in defending itself in lawsuits from former faculty members. Tulane was censured in 2007 for the way it eliminated departments and made decisions in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The university maintained at the time -- and has maintained since -- that it had no choice but to act quickly to shift priorities in light of the severe situation presented by Katrina. But the AAUP investigation into the situation questioned the extent to which the university needed to take those specific steps, particularly without appropriate levels (to the AAUP) of faculty input. The university has adopted policies -- developed by faculty members and with AAUP backing -- that specify more explicit faculty roles in decision making in a financial crisis, and that stress the protections that should be offered to tenured faculty members. The final issue to be resolved concerned fears that the lifting of censure could hurt lawsuits against the university, and Tulane's pledge not to cite the lifting of censure led to the latest decision.

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