Quick Takes: Summers Flap and Obama's Experts, Gee Could Earn $2M, Cap on Online Bonuses, Norovirus Shuts College, Cuba Travel Limits Upheld, Peru May Sue Yale, Models of Digital Scholarship, An Expensive Garage, More Data on Young Voters, Grooming Advice

November 10, 2008
  • At times this fall's election seemed like a reprise of the culture wars. A reprise of a very specific culture war -- that over Lawrence H. Summers -- has emerged in recent days. Summers, whose Harvard University presidency will forever be associated with his comments on women and science, was among those experts who met with President-elect Barack Obama Friday to discuss the economy, and Summers has widely been reported to be among those under consideration to be tapped as treasury secretary. That possibility has upset some feminist leaders. The Washington Post quoted the co-founder of New Agenda (founded by supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton) as saying Summers "has a clear and unequivocal record of sexism and misogyny." The Huffington Post quoted Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, as being uncertain about whether the women and science quotes from the past are relevant today. She said: "I'm torn on the subject. Part of me thinks his opinions on women's capacities for math and science don't have relevancy to financial markets.... But I do wonder whether if his comments about women's lack of aptitude for math and science had instead been a comment or an opinion about African Americans having less capacity for math and science, would he be on anybody's short-list. That's a fair question to ask." The National Review is having fun with the dispute, suggesting that "Hillary's herd" is opposing Summers "because feminists hate his open-mindedness." Others with academic connections who were consulted by Obama Friday are causing less controversy. They include: David Bonior, a professor of labor studies at Wayne State University who was formerly a member of Congress; Roger W. Ferguson Jr., CEO of TIAA-CREF; Robert B. Reich, a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and former U.S. labor secretary; and Laura Tyson, a professor of business at the Berkeley and former chair of the Council of Economic Advisors.
  • Ohio State University's contract with President E. Gordon Gee has been seen as generous ever since it was signed. Under changes approved Friday, he could be earning $2 million this year -- in base pay plus bonuses for achieving certain goals, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The board also gave him a $310,000 bonus for achieving goals for the last year.
  • The University of Iowa is capping the number of online courses professors may teach after finding some professors were receiving large bonuses to teach three times more courses than is standard, The Des Moines Register reported. Fourteen professors were paid bonuses that were more than 30 percent of their base salaries.
  • Hope College will be closed today, following a norovirus outbreak that was originally diagnosed in about 120 students at the Michigan institution, and now has hit about 400 students and employees. While a norovirus is not typically life-threatening, it is easily spread when people live in close quarters, as is the case at many residential colleges. Georgetown University and the University of Southern California have experienced outbreaks this fall.
  • The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last week rejected a challenge to 2004 federal regulations restricting study abroad in Cuba (the changes, for instance, limited licensed academic travel to programs lasting 10 weeks or more, and involving only the students and full-time faculty of a single sponsoring university). Affirming a district court’s decision to dismiss, the appeals court was not swayed by the appellants’ argument that “the regulations violate their individual First Amendment rights to ‘academic freedom’ by restricting who may teach and what may be taught in American universities.” But Wayne Smith, an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University and one of 400 academics who challenges the rules as part of the Emergency Coalition to Defend Academic Travel – said it was “shameful” that the court simply accepted the government’s argument that the 2004 regulations were needed to curb abuses involving short-term study abroad programs. “They couldn’t cite a single abuse,” Smith said. Since the regulations were promulgated, the number of study abroad programs operating in Cuba has fallen from several hundred to, at most, about a dozen.
  • Peru may sue Yale University to reclaim thousands of artifacts collected at Machu Picchu and studied at Yale for almost a century, the Associated Press reported, citing articles in Peru's state newspaper. Yale and Peru reached a general agreement on the items last year, but final negotiations have been slow.
  • A new report provides an overview of the state of digital scholarship, noting that many projects make use of traditional models of peer review and focus on reaching niche audiences. The report was prepared by Ithaka, a group that does research on such topics, for the Association of Research Libraries.
  • Massachusetts is paying $165,000 to build a garage at the president's house at Framingham State College, even as the economy has forced the state to eliminate funds to repair the institution's aging library, The MetroWest Daily News reported. Officials said that they might have delayed the project had they known about the economic crisis that grew during recent months.
  • Between 52 and 53 percent of voters under 30 showed up Tuesday, an increase of four to five percentage points from 2004 and an increase of 11 percentage points over 2000, according to an updated estimate from Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. Young voters preferred President-Elect Obama by a more than 2 to 1 margin.
  • Check the fit of your underwear. Be sure the host, not hostess, sits at the head of a table. Avoid clothing that could make one appear "frumpy," "tarty" or "lazy." These are some of the bits of advice in "Leeds Met Manners," which was written by the wife of the vice chancellor at Britain's Leeds Metropolitan University, and is distributed to new employees. The Times Higher Education Supplement reports that many at the university find the advice intrusive and old-fashioned.
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