Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, August 14, 2009 - 3:00am

Cengage Learning said Thursday that it would become the first higher education publisher to let students rent as well as buy print textbooks directly from the source. Cengage said it would transform its existing online platform, known as iChapters, into a broader site that would allow students to rent print textbooks at 40 to 70 percent off retail as well as purchase print and digital texts and other materials. Publishers have been exploring a range of ways to enter the burgeoning market for renting textbooks.

Friday, August 14, 2009 - 3:00am

There are some rankings colleges love to rate highly in -- like the various magazine rankings that claim to assess quality -- and others they'd rather be left out of, like those of party schools or worst colleges. This one probably falls somewhere in between: a listing by two consumer watchdog groups that lists organizations that both lobbied the federal government and received the most money in the form of Congressionally directed earmarks. The database, which was put together using the Center for Responsive Politics's data on lobbying and the information on earmarks compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense, shows universities filling 9 of the 10 top slots, and 13 of the top 20 positions, in a list of organizations that both lobbied the government and benefited from pork barrel projects from their representatives. The University of Alabama led the way with $40.55 million in earmarks (it spent $360,000 on lobbying in 2009 and individuals contributed $138,494 to political candidates). Four of the next five slots were filled by Mississippi universities (U. of, Mississippi State, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and the University of Southern Mississippi), and one interesting recipient in the top 20 was Teach for America, which spent $509,000 on lobbying and got $2 million in earmarks. The groups' analysis suggests, however, that the universities might be bumped from their top positions in the rankings when all of the 2009 earmarks for the Pentagon are included -- even the universities with the best friends in Congress can't compete with Northrup Grumman and Raytheon when it comes to political might.

Friday, August 14, 2009 - 3:00am

The American Association of University Professors issued a statement Thursday sharply criticizing a decision by the Yale University Press, first reported by The New York Times, to exclude from a book about the controversy over cartoon images of Muhammad the images themselves. The AAUP statement said that Yale's position effectively was: "We do not negotiate with terrorists. We just accede to their anticipated demands." The AAUP said that the issues involved are: "1) an author’s academic freedom; 2) the reputation of the press and the university; 3) the impact of these twin decisions on other university presses and publication venues; 4) the potential to encourage broader censorship of speech by faculty members or other authors."

Yale released a statement defending its actions. "As an institution deeply committed to free expression, we were inclined to publish the cartoons and other images as proposed," said the statement. "The original publication of the cartoons, however, was an occasion for violent incidents worldwide that resulted in over 200 deaths. Republication of them has repeatedly resulted in violent incidents, including as recently as 2008, some three years after their original publication and long after the images had been available on the Internet. These facts led us to consult extensively with experts in the intelligence, national security, law enforcement, and diplomatic fields, as well as leading scholars in Islamic studies and Middle East studies. All confirmed that the republication of the cartoons by the Yale University Press ran a serious risk of instigating violence, and nearly all advised that publishing other illustrations of the Prophet Muhammad in the context of this book about the Danish cartoon controversy raised similar risk. We recognize that inclusion of the cartoons would complement the book¹s text with a convenient visual reference for the reader, who otherwise would have to consult the Internet to view the images."

Thursday, August 13, 2009 - 3:00am

Yale University Press will this fall be publishing a book, The Cartoons That Shook The World, about the furor that followed a Danish newspaper's publication of cartoons making fun of Muhammad. But The New York Times reported that the book will not feature any of the cartoons themselves, or other images of Muhammad, including ones that are historic and have been widely featured elsewhere. The Times said that Yale brought together a special panel to consider the use of the images -- and that the press agreed with the recommendation not to include these illustrations. John Donatich, the director of Yale University Press, told the Times that he has always defended controversial work, but that the cartoons and other images could be described in words. One religion scholar, angered by the decision, has withdrawn a blurb for the book. Jytte Klausen, a professor of politics at Brandeis University who wrote the book, questioned Yale's decision, telling the Times: "Muslim friends, leaders and activists thought that the incident was misunderstood, so the cartoons needed to be reprinted so we could have a discussion about it.”

Thursday, August 13, 2009 - 3:00am

Karl S. Wright, who was named president of Florida Memorial University two years ago, is no longer on the job, and no reason has been given for his sudden departure, The Miami Herald reported. Wright did not respond to the Herald's requests for information about his departure.

Thursday, August 13, 2009 - 3:00am

Rick Pitino is not only facing a personal scandal, but it turns out that the University of Louisville basketball coach has a morality clause in his contract, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported Wednesday. The same newspaper reported Tuesday that Pitino told police that he had engaged in consensual sex with Karen Cunagin Sypher in a Louisville restaurant on Aug. 1, 2003, and paid her $3,000 to have an abortion. Sypher has made accusations -- which police say lack a basis for acting upon -- that the coach assaulted her. She faces charges of trying to extort money from Pitino to keep the situation private. The newspaper reported that the university -- which has backed Pitino -- can fire him for acts of “moral depravity” or if he engages in “willful conduct that could objectively be determined to bring (the) employee into public dispute or scandal, or which tends to greatly offend the public.”

Thursday, August 13, 2009 - 3:00am

Gawker offers a tip for journalism schools, based on its blogging report on orientation this year at the program at Columbia University: Don't have an outside speaker tell the students to avoid debt, when they borrowed a lot of money to enroll and may need to borrow more later. According to Gawker, there was an "audible response" when the debt-laden students were given the advice that they avoid borrowing. Journalism schools continue to be popular with students and universities, which promote them. But as Editor & Publisher reported last week, the latest data suggest that a bad job market for j-school grads has gotten worse, salaries for those who land jobs are stagnant, and job satisfaction is falling. (Not at Inside Higher Ed, of course.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - 3:00am

Security on Campus, a group that pushes for tougher responses to crime on campus, on Tuesday issued a statement saying that a recent ruling by the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights would force colleges to take firmer action against students who harass other students on online gossip sites, even if those sites aren't part of colleges. In the ruling, the department did not directly address that issue, and in fact rejected the complaint in question. But Security on Campus believes that because the rejection was not over the nature of the Web sites, this marks a shift in federal policy. "Schools have the same obligation to respond to sexual harassment in cyberspace that they have when the harassment occurs in the classroom – according to a first of its kind ruling," said the group's announcement. However, the Education Department sees things differently. A spokesman for the department said: "OCR would not characterize this as a 'landmark ruling.' In this case, OCR found insufficient evidence of a violation of Title IX. The OCR resolution letter speaks for itself in explaining the parameters of OCR's investigation and findings and should not be interpreted beyond those parameters." The dispute involves postings on the defunct Web site Juicy Campus.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - 3:00am

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which is best known in higher education for easing the path of community college students into four-year colleges, announced today that it has hired Lawrence Kutner as its new executive director. Kutner, who co-founded and co-directs the Center for Mental Health and Media at Massachusetts General Hospital and lectures on psychology in the psychiatry department at Harvard Medical School, is an expert on child development as well as an author and documentary producer. Among its other activities, the Cooke foundation focuses on helping community college students transfer to and succeed at competitive four-year colleges, and is financing an expansion of a University of Virginia program that puts graduates into low-income high schools to help students prepare for college.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 - 3:00am

The following appointments, promotions and other job changes were announced recently by colleges, associations, companies and other organizations that operate in and around higher education. They are among the many such moves that appear in The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of upcoming events in higher education. This listing will appear as a regular feature in this space.

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  • Jarrett H. Brown, who is completing a Ph.D. at the College of William and Mary, has been appointed as instructor of English at College of the Holy Cross.
  • Michael Fields, dean of the college of business administration at Central Michigan University, has been appointed dean of the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University.
  • Patricia Higgins, Distinguished Service Professor and associate vice president for academic affairs at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, has been selected as interim provost there.
  • Maria McLemore, interim executive director of system and foundation relations at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, has been named to the job on a permanent basis.
  • David P. Redlawsk, associate professor of political science and director of the Hawkeye Poll at the University of Iowa, has been named professor of political science and director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll at Rutgers University at New Brunswick.
  • Sarah Whiting, assistant professor of history and theory in the School of Architecture at Princeton University, has been named dean of the School of Architecture at Rice University.

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