Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, November 30, 2015 - 3:00am

Adjunct faculty members at Temple University have voted to unionize and to join the Temple Association of University Professionals, which already represents tenure-track faculty members at the university. Seventy percent of adjuncts voted in favor of the move. The union is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.

Monday, November 30, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of Arizona Museum of Art marked an anniversary of sorts this weekend, but not an event the institution wants to celebrate. On the day after Thanksgiving in 1985, two thieves walked off with "Woman-Ochre" (at right), by Willem de Kooning, a work that could be worth up to $160 million. The museum wants to keep the theft in people's minds, hoping to prompt a lead. The university is retelling the story of the theft, in which a man apparently made off with the work while a woman, his presumed partner, distracted a security guard.

Monday, November 30, 2015 - 3:00am

American colleges are not the only ones facing criticism for buildings named for people who advocated racist ideas and policies. The Age reported that students and others at the University of Melbourne have identified five buildings named for early professors at the institution. These professors advocated the killing of Aboriginal Australians, sterilizing them and taking away their children, among other policies. The university has said that it is studying how to better serve Aboriginals and deal with Australia's past history of discriminating against them.

Monday, November 30, 2015 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Montserrat Rabago-Smith, assistant professor of bio-organic chemistry at Kettering University, discusses the health benefit of drinking green tea. And if you missed the podcasts from last Thursday and Friday, you can listen to them, and find out more about the Academic Minute, here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 4:12am

Student protests at Princeton University have led the university to agree to consider removing Woodrow Wilson's name from a residential college and school of public policy at the university. At the same time, the demand by black students that the university do so -- because of Wilson's racist views, which he incorporated into public policy -- has been widely criticized by some at the university and many pundits. But in a sign that the students have indeed placed the issue on the public agenda, The New York Times has in an editorial urged Princeton to drop the Wilson name.

The Wilson administration "set about segregating the work force, driving out highly placed black employees and shunting the rest into lower-paying jobs," says an editorial in the Times.

After reviewing Wilson's record of supporting segregation at levels beyond what he found when became president, the editorial says, "None of this mattered in 1948 when Princeton honored Wilson by giving his name to what is now called the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Black Americans were still viewed as nonpersons in the eyes of the state, and even the most strident bigots were held up to public adulation. This is certainly not the case today. The overwhelming weight of the evidence argues for rescinding the honor that the university bestowed decades ago on an unrepentant racist."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 3:00am

Western Washington University canceled classes on Tuesday in response to online hate speech that university President Bruce Shepard said targeted students of color. In a statement announcing the cancellation, Shepard said the threats were not "merely insulting, rude, offensive commentary that trolls and various other lowlifes seem free to spew, willy-nilly, although there has been plenty of that, too. No, this was hate speech." Shepard said the people behind the hate speech had not been identified, and that the campus remained open during the law enforcement investigation.

Since becoming president in 2008, Shepard has used public speaking appearances to stress the need for the university to recruit faculty members, students and staffers of color. "I said before and I’ll say it again: if we -- the faculty and staff, student body, president and administration -- if we 10 years from now are as white as we are today, we will have failed as a university and our commitment to meet the critical needs of our state," he said during the 2012 opening convocation. Last year, the university surveyed the campus on ways that "we make sure that in future years 'we are not as white as we are today,'" according to Campus Reform.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 3:00am

The operator of FastTrain -- a defunct Miami-based for-profit college -- was convicted by a federal jury Tuesday on 12 counts of theft of government money and one count of conspiracy, according to The Miami Herald.

Alejandro Amor, the operator, will be sentenced in February. Former FastTrain employees testified that Amor coached the staff on how to forge signatures and halted an internal investigation into improprieties at the college.

The seven-campus chain closed in 2012, but gained notoriety after federal prosecutors accused the for-profit of submitting fraudulent financial aid claims for 1,300 students, many of whom did not hold legitimate high school diplomas. The college was also accused of hiring former strippers to work as recruiters.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 3:00am

Authorities in South Korea plan to indict about 200 professors in a scheme in which they are alleged to have republished other people's textbooks by simply putting a new cover and their names on the work of other scholars, The Korea Herald reported. Many of the professors have already admitted to these copyright violations, and they could face dismissal from their universities. Publishers are alleged to have looked the other way or even encouraged the practice.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 3:00am

Gonzaga University School of Law has offered buyouts to all 17 of its tenured faculty members following a 28 percent dip in enrollment since 2011, Inlander and Above the Law reported. Like many other law schools, the institution’s applicant pool has decreased, in Gonzaga's case by more than one-third since 2011. Rather than drastically change its admissions criteria, Gonzaga chose to shrink enrollment, at the expense of its budget.

Four of 17 faculty members have accepted the buyout, and no more are expected to. Dean Jane Korn told Inlander, “Every dean had to make a decision to lower standards or take a budget hit, and we decided to take the budget hit. … We did this to avoid problems in the future.” Gonzaga is staffed for about 175 students per class, Korn said, but enrollment was just 125 in 2014.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Noelle Eckley Selin, associate professor of data, systems and society and of atmospheric chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explores her research into the effects of the carmaker's pollution emissions. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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