Quick Takes: Little Bias Found in Pa. Colleges, Protecting Animal Research, Tenured Jobs at Risk at Southern Oregon, Oxford Governance Plan Advances, Town-Gown Pact in Conn., Growth of Academic Libraries, Bob Knight's Temper, Iraqi Universities Shut Down

November 15, 2006
  • The Pennsylvania legislative committee looking for political bias in the state's colleges hasn't found much, and is recommending only that colleges review academic freedom policies and make sure students have ways to complain about professors, the Associated Press reported. The committee's hearings -- inspired by David Horowitz's campaign for the Academic Bill of Rights -- infuriated many academics. But the hearings didn't generate the smoking guns conservative critics sought. Some professors feared that the panel would recommend steps to assure "balance" in the classroom through the kind of regulations many academics consider a violation of their intellectual freedom.
  • Both the U.S. House and Senate have now passed a bill to make it easier to prosecute those who threaten researchers working with animals or cause harm to researchers, their family members or their laboratories. The legislation, which President Bush is expected to sign, follows a series of incidents at the University of California at Los Angeles and elsewhere, where scientists and their families have been harassed. The legislation states explicitly that peaceful demonstrations are not banned by the legislation.
  • Southern Oregon University is warning faculty members that the institution's budget situation is so dire that some tenured professors may lose their jobs, the AP reported. Declining course enrollments were blamed for the budget problems.
  • A controversial plan to reform the governance of the University of Oxford advanced Tuesday with a vote by the Congregation -- the British university's parliament of dons -- to approve a sympathetic amendment to the plan. Administrators have said the plan, which creates an American-style board with substantial power, is essential to promote efficient governance. But many faculty members see the shift as an erosion of professorial power.
  • Connecticut College and the City of New London have settled a dispute over the tax status of  the college's arena. Under the pact, the city will not appeal a court ruling that found the facility to be tax-exempt, the city will reimburse the college for tax payments made while the dispute was going on, but the city will not have to pay interest, The Day reported.
  • During the 2004 fiscal year, academic libraries in the United States added 24.6 million books and other paper documents to their collections, bringing total holdings to 982.6 million. During the same year, a typical week saw 1.4 million academic library reference transactions (including computer searches), and total academic library expenditures were about $5.8 billion. Those figures and many others may be found in "Academic Libraries: 2004," released Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics.
  • When Texas Tech University hired Bob Knight, the basketball coach known both for his on-court success and his temper during his tenure at Indiana University, some professors said they feared his temper would flare again. But university officials said not to worry. Monday night, Knight used his hand to push a player's chin up while they were talking and the player's head was lowered, the AP reported.
  • Iraq's higher education ministry ordered universities to close Tuesday after about 100 people were kidnapped from a ministry office, CNN reported. Dozens of gunmen wearing the uniforms of police officers pulled off the kidnapping. With professors in Iraq regularly being murdered, the ministry has been appealing for more help in protecting academics. Last week, the American Association of University Professors and the Middle East Studies Association wrote to Iraqi officials, protesting the recent murders of Isam al-Rawi, a professor of geology at the University of Baghdad and president of the Union of University Professors, and Jassim al-Asadi, dean of the university's School of Administration and Economics. The letter noted that more than 180 university professionals have been killed in Iraq during the United States occupation.
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