Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 7, 2013

Faculty at Wellesley College have voted to continue the institution's partnership with Peking University, subject to oversight by the college's Academic Council, according to Thomas Cushman, a professor of sociology who spearheaded a letter-writing campaign on behalf of Xia Yeliang, an associate professor of economics at Peking who was fired in October. Many view Xia's termination as retribution for his criticism of the Chinese government, although the university says the decision was based on his teaching and research record. More than 130 Wellesley faculty members had signed a letter objecting to the termination of Xia “based solely on his political and philosophical views” and saying that they would urge the Wellesley administration to reconsider the college’s institutional partnership with Peking if it fired Xia.

Wellesley is expected to release a statement on the matter today. In a previous statement, the college's president, H. Kim Bottomly, indicated she is supportive of efforts to bring Xia to Wellesley as a visiting scholar.

 

November 7, 2013

The University of California System raised $400,000 in relatively small gifts (averaging about $75) through a crowd-funding campaign for scholarships, and officials said that the effort was successful not only in bringing in money but raising awareness about the need for scholarships, The Los Angles Times reported. For the campaign, individuals pledged to do certain things in return for donations. One student at UC Merced wore a horse head mask for a week after donors agreed to donate. Michael Drake, chancellor at Irvine, will lead donors on a bike ride.

November 6, 2013

The student body president at Northwest Christian University has revealed that he is an atheist, The Register-Guard reported. Eric Fromm, the president, said he decided to go public to respond to shunning and rumors about his beliefs, which he had been discussing informally. Fromm shared his views with the campus at large by writing an essay for the student newspaper. He said that reaction since he did so has mostly been positive. Michael Fuller, the university’s vice president for enrollment and student development, called Fromm "a man of very high character and respect" and "a great advocate for our student body, which is exactly what he’s supposed to be and do." As to Fromm's lack of faith, Fuller said that, "If we all had our wishes, we wish Eric would be a strong Christian man." But he added: "We’re an open and welcome community, and we meet students exactly where they’re at."

 

November 6, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that male and female students will be segregated in university dorms, the Associated Press reported The issue points to continuing tensions between Erdogan’s Islamic-leaning government and secular-minded Turks, many of whom accuse Erdogan of imposing his conservative beliefs on society at large. Erdogan said of the decision regarding dorms that the government has a duty to students’ parents.

November 6, 2013

Time for another chance at Inside Higher Ed's Cartoon Caption Contest.

We invite you to submit your ideas for the cleverest caption for the new cartoon, which you can find here.

Pick your favorite from among our judges' three finalists from among the suggestions we received for last month's cartoon.

And kudos to Jim Snyder, who is coordinator of the writing center at Ohio State University-Mansfield. His caption earned the most reader votes among the three finalists chosen by our panel for August's cartoon. You can find out more about his winning entry here.

 

November 6, 2013

Trinity College Dublin and the University of Melbourne will become the first international participants in the course consortium Semester Online, the education technology company 2U announced on Wednesday.

Semester Online enables students to enroll in for-credit online courses offered by faculty members at participating institutions -- or keep up with their studies while away from those campuses. Students complete coursework on their own time, but the courses also include online face-to-face sessions. The effort is being piloted this fall and will launch in January.

Trinity College and Melbourne will supply one course each to the spring semester offerings: "Ireland in Rebellion" and "Classical Mythology," respectively.

With the addition of the two new partners, the Semester Online consortium now includes 10 institutions. Trinity College and Melbourne join Boston College, Brandeis, Emory, Northwestern and Wake Forest Universities; the Universities of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Notre Dame, and Washington University in St. Louis.

November 6, 2013

DePauw University and Wabash Colleges have followed Indiana University in joining Freedom Indiana, which is opposing a proposal that Indiana amend its constitution to ban same-sex marriage. A joint statement from the DePauw and Wabash presidents, Brian W. Casey and Gregory D. Hess, respectively, gave the following rationale: "Our students come from around the country and around the world, and our fundamental goal is to educate them to think critically, exercise responsible leadership, communicate effectively, and tackle complex problems. This depends on attracting talented faculty and staff, a task that is made more difficult by the passage of this amendment. We are also engaged in the enterprise of fostering ideas and innovation, a mission which inherently depends on an environment of openness and inclusion that would be compromised should this amendment be enacted."

 

November 6, 2013

Unauthorized outside pay for David Smith, president of the State University of New York Upstate Medical University, may have derailed his candidacy to become the next president of Pennsylvania State University, The Albany Times Union reported.

SUNY announced Tuesday that Smith has been placed on on leave. The announcement said that Smith was placed on leave while SUNY reviews unspecified "compensation issues" and because of health issues facing Smith. The Syracuse Post-Standard reported that Smith's compensation in 2012 included  $363,537 from the university, $268,923 from the SUNY Research Foundation, and a monthly housing allowance of $5,000.

But the Times Union said that a search firm vetting Smith for the Penn State presidency (which he may have been close to winning) found that he was also receiving unauthorized payments from two companies with ties to Upstate Medical University. The search firm's inquiries apparently alerted SUNY to the situation. A letter to Smith from SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher says that these substantial additional payments may need to be returned and she ordered him to stop accepting such funds. Smith, formerly chancellor of Texas Tech University, declined to comment.

 

 

November 6, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, William Powell of the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry explains how genetic modification can save trees from blight. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

November 5, 2013

Adjuncts at Whittier College and the University of La Verne, both in Southern California, have filed for a union election with the Service Employees International Union as part of its Adjunct Action project. The national campaign aims to organize adjuncts across metro areas and regionally. “There has been a real need to address the inequities that adjunct faculty face for a long time,” said Fatima Suarez, an adjunct professor of anthropology and sociology at La Verne, said in a news release announcing the union bids, filed with National Labor Relations Board. “We are excited for the opportunity to form a union and win a real voice and a better future for ourselves and our students.” Adjunct Action has seen traction in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where adjuncts at institutions including American and George Washington Universities have voted recently to unionize. In Boston, Tufts University adjuncts voted to unionize this fall, while a Bentley University effort was voted down.

La Verne and Whittier are expected to announce by the end of the week whether they will challenge the bids, according to SEIU. The colleges did not immediately respond to requests for comment. c  resan we replace with statements from the colleges? -sj*****Emailed and did not hear back. Noted deadline---CF

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