Quick Takes: Opposition to Boycott of Israel, Cash for Grades, New Alcorn Chief Has Leukemia, VP Asked to Leave Following Arrest, Mugabe's Endangered Doctorate, Journalism on Community Colleges, Science Ed Benchmarks, $100M for Washington and Lee

  • Opposition -- much of it in the United States -- is growing to the vote last week by Britain's main faculty union, the University and College Union, to encourage a boycott of Israeli academics.
  • June 7, 2007
  • Opposition -- much of it in the United States -- is growing to the vote last week by Britain's main faculty union, the University and College Union, to encourage a boycott of Israeli academics. An online petition by Wednesday had more than 1,300 scholars from around the world -- including several Nobel laureates -- pledging that as long as the boycott call remains in effect, they will consider themselves to be like Israeli academics and will refuse to attend any meeting from which Israeli professors are excluded. The American Association for the Advancement of Science issued a statement urging the British union to reject the boycott. "Free scientific inquiry and associated international collaborations should not be compromised in order to advance a political agenda unrelated to scientific and scholarly matters," the statement said. The American Association of University Professors' Committee A on Academic Freedom adopted a statement reiterating its opposition to academic boycotts. And the British prime minister, Tony Blair, said in Parliament that the boycott was "misguided" and "undermines academic freedoms," The Guardian reported.
  • Los Medanos College has been the second institution in California's Contra Costa Community College District hit with a cash-for-grades scandal, The Contra Costa Times reported. As many as eight Los Medanos students may have paid to have grades changed; dozens of students are being investigated at Diablo Valley College, also in the district.
  • George Ross, a Central Michigan University vice president named to become president of Alcorn State University next month, has been hospitalized with leukemia, The Clarion-Ledger reported. It is unclear what impact the treatment will have on Ross. He was hired at Alcorn State following the death last year of Clinton Bristow Jr., a popular president of the historically black institution in Mississippi who had a heart attack while on the campus track.
  • Mark Andrews, vice president of administration at Northern Essex Community College, has been asked to leave the institution after his arrest on drunken-driving charges, The Eagle-Tribune reported. Andrews did not respond to the newspaper's request for an interview. The Eagle-Tribune reported that it was his second drunken-driving arrest in 15 months.
  • The University of Edinburgh announced Wednesday that it is moving to strip an honorary doctorate it awarded in 1984 to Robert Mugabe, who was then viewed as a visionary leader of Zimbabwe and who is today viewed as a dictator, Reuters reported. Students and professors at several universities that awarded doctorates to Mugabe have been pushing for them to be revoked. Edinburgh plans to give Mugabe the chance to respond to its plans before they become final, but he has previously said that he doesn't care if the universities take away the degrees.
  • The Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media has announced the first fellows in a new program to encourage more sophisticated journalistic coverage of community colleges. The fellows will receive support for a major project on community colleges. Details on the fellows and their projects are available here. Inside Higher Ed congratulates one of its columnists, Wick Sloane, who won one of the fellowships. The Hechinger Institute is part of Teachers College, Columbia University.
  • As part of an ongoing look at federal efforts to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, federal officials on Wednesday assured a Congressional subcommittee that their respective agencies are working on developing benchmarks to measure how well their programs help students. Lawmakers and the panelists generally agreed with recent criticisms that there is a lack of evidence of effective practices in STEM education and that the agencies need to improve coordination when developing programs.
  • Washington and Lee University will today announce an anonymous $100 million gift, $85 million of which will be used to support need-based financial aid. The rest of the money will be used to create two professorships, establish a lecture series and to support a leadership program for university seniors.
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