Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, April 26, 2010 - 3:00am

Under fire for promoting sex tourism in Thailand, a California State University professor has taken down a controversial Web site partly devoted to the subject. Kenneth Ng, an associate professor of economics at Cal State Northridge, “reluctantly” took down the site Friday, Provost Harry Hellenbrand said in a statement. Ng said he was discontinuing the site because of the impact it was having on the campus’s reputation, not because he thought its content was inappropriate. Highlighting the complexity of the debate that unfolded over the site, Hellenbrand said “We are trying to balance two principles that, in this case, clashed. Our commitment to gender equity compels us to see the site as offensive; our commitment to expression urges us to tolerate words and pictures we find intolerant.” The site, BigBabyKenny.com, now features a few posts about the controversy that proved its undoing.

Monday, April 26, 2010 - 3:00am

Lafayette College has agreed to pay $1 million to five women on whose behalf the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the college for sexual harassment, The Morning Call reported. The suit charged that the college did not prevent Barry Stauffer, who was at the time a police officer there, from groping female employees and making lewd comments to them describing sex acts he said he wanted to perform. The college fired him in 2008, the same year the suit was filed. Last year, the Morning Call said, he pleaded guilty to two counts of stalking involving two female college employees.

Monday, April 26, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Texas System has called all students and faculty members in seven states in the north of Mexico to return, citing rising violence in the region. Many of the larger exchange programs with Mexico are in other parts of the country.

Monday, April 26, 2010 - 3:00am

Kent State University is marking the 40th anniversary of the May 4, 1970 shootings with a new walking tour -- with audio narrated by civil rights leader Julian Bond -- of seven stops that relate to the tragedy. The university is also honoring the placement of the site on the National Register of Historic Places.

Monday, April 26, 2010 - 3:00am

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities on Friday issued a statement denouncing a new Arizona law that authorizes police to seek identification papers from anyone who may be in the country illegally -- a measure that critics say will result in widespread ethnic profiling of Latinos, citizens and non-citizens alike. "This law will turn Arizona into a police state," said Antonio Flores, the president of HACU, in a statement. "It goes against our best traditions of welcoming and embracing people from all corners of the world who seek to contribute to our national prosperity and to achieve the American Dream." HACU had been considering holding an upcoming conference in Phoenix but will not consider the city as a result of the new law.

Monday, April 26, 2010 - 3:00am

Just as the University of Missouri at Columbia took some ribbing for its Ken Lay Chair in Economics, so Harvard University may now get some grief. As Inside Higher Ed blogger University Diaries noted, Harvard has a Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History. David Armitage, who holds the chair, declined to comment on how it feels to have a chair named for the Goldman Sachs CEO.

Friday, April 23, 2010 - 3:00am

Faculty members at Columbus State University have voted no confidence in President Tim Mescon and Provost Inessa Levi, by wide margins, The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported. Faculty members cited a number of grievances, including tenure decisions and shifts in library oversight, and administrators have pulled back on some of the decisions that angered professors.

Friday, April 23, 2010 - 3:00am

Kathryn A. Martin, chancellor of the University of Minnesota at Duluth, on Thursday denounced as “horrendous and despicable” a Facebook discussion among two white female students that was read by many students at the institution, The Duluth News Tribune reported. The discussion, on the students' Facebook pages, took place as a black student entered a study lounge where the white students were working (and chatting on Facebook). Among the comments, according to several news accounts: “ew-w-w a obabacare is in the room, i feel dirty, and unsafe. ... keep a eye on all of your valuables and don't make direct eye contact.” After the comments spread, they became the topic of widespread discussion on the campus and a university investigation.

Friday, April 23, 2010 - 3:00am

Robert J. Sternberg, a prominent psychologist who has pioneered alternative approaches to college admissions, has been named the next provost of Oklahoma State University. Sternberg spent most of his academic career at Yale University and since 2005 has been dean of arts and sciences at Tufts University. In an e-mail interview, Sternberg said that many have been surprised by his decision to move to Oklahoma State, but that he had decided he wanted to work in public higher education. (He pulled out of being the sole finalist for the position of provost of the University of Colorado at Boulder to accept the Oklahoma State job.)

Access is the key issue facing higher education today, Sternberg said, and he worries that elite private higher education -- though doing a great job in many respects -- may not be where the action is. "I think that our society has a real problem but does not recognize it -- that its obsessive preoccupation with test scores has sowed the seeds of its own destruction. We need to be concentrating on developing wise and ethical leaders -- instead we are developing people who are consummate multiple-choice test-takers who do not necessarily have the wisdom to lead," he said.

"This is not to dump on the elite schools -- they are doing the job they believe they should do," he said. "But is it the right job? Society as a whole has, I think, drifted in the wrong direction. I believe that the state schools, with their emphasis on service and 'giving back,' represent a crucial direction for this country. We need to emphasize wisdom and giving back, not just narrow academic intelligence and how to use it to take more. Oklahoma State, I found, had the same core values I do."

Friday, April 23, 2010 - 3:00am

The Alabama Legislature reached a deal Thursday that will keep the state's prepaid tuition program functioning, the Associated Press reported. With the 2008 collapse of stock values, the funds invested by the state on parents' behalf no longer appear sufficient to pay the tuition of those who paid to join the plan. Some in the state have worried that the bailout would amount to a large infusion of funds to a program that largely benefits the middle class or wealthy who participate at a time that colleges that primarily serve low-income students are short on funds. In the end, the deal will provide $548 million over 17 years to maintain the program. And in a move that is being criticized, the deal requires public universities to limit tuition increases for program participants, but exempts Auburn University and the University of Alabama systems.

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