Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 19, 2013

Ireland’s universities stand to lose €3.6 million -- the equivalent of about $4.9 million -- in government funding as punishment for giving unauthorized bonuses to presidents and senior staff, the Independent reported.The bonuses were intended to reward senior staff for taking on extra responsibilities, but they were disbursed without the requisite ministerial approval.

December 19, 2013

Officials of the University of Colorado at Boulder continue to offer new reasons for why they told Patricia Adler, a tenured sociology professor, that she could no longer teach a popular course on deviance that attracts hundreds of students every semester (although they now say she could teach again if the course undergoes a review). The objections concern a lecture on prostitution in which Adler seeks volunteers from her assistant teaching assistants to dress up as various kinds of prostitutes and to discuss (in character) their lives. First, Colorado said that the university was concerned that the activity required approval by an Institutional Review Board. After many professors (and Colorado's IRB) noted that institutional review boards don't review classroom activities, Colorado acknowledged that there was no IRB issue, and said that some students complained that they felt pressure to participate in the exercise (which Adler and many past participants denied).

Then on Wednesday at a press conference, officials said that their primary concern was that some students in the class had their photographs taken (or videos made) of the class without their consent, The Daily Camera reported. Adler told the newspaper that students know that the class -- like many classes -- is videotaped, and that no complaints have been raised. She said come participants ask for copies of the videotape. The press conference followed a closed, emergency faculty meeting called to discuss the Adler case. The Daily Camera obtained a recording of the meeting, and said that "many faculty members angrily expressed their concerns and frustrations with the situation surrounding Adler."

 

December 19, 2013

Maranatha Baptist University has started the process of changing its mascot and team name away from "Crusaders," The Wisconsin State Journal reported.  Matt Davis, the university's executive vice president, said that there have not been controversies over the name, but that the university wants to avoid one. "In light of our global outreach and a more-advanced understanding of how things could be perceived, we want to avoid that," he said.

December 19, 2013

The Canadian Association of University Teachers this week called for colleges and universities in Canada to sever ties to Confucius Institutes, which have been set up at many Canadian (and American) campuses with support from the Chinese government. Supporters say that the institutes are a valuable way to expose more students outside China to Chinese history and culture. But critics say that the institutes present an oversimplified and positive image of China and that universities that want the house institutes may feel pressure to avoid certain topics. A statement from James Turk, executive director of the Canadian faculty group, said: “Confucius Institutes are essentially political arms of the Chinese government. They restrict the free discussion of topics Chinese authorities deem controversial and should have no place on our campuses."

 

Confucius
December 19, 2013

Trinity Western University has won final approval from authorities in British Columbia to start a law school -- the first faith-based law school in Canada. Gay rights and civil liberties groups had urged the provincial government not to grant permission, citing the Christian university's rules that ban students from "sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman." Critics said that this ban effectively barred gay people from enrolling. The university said that it was not discriminating against gay people, only against those who have sex outside of heterosexual marriage. A statement on Wednesday from the university's president, Bob Kuhn, reiterated that point. "It needs to be said that all students (gay or straight) are welcome to attend Trinity Western University, providing they meet our academic requirements and agree to respect our community values. Like most religious communities, we have established a set of values and principles to guide our daily lives; ours are in a manner consistent with Christian teaching. Chief among those values is to show love and respect for all people at all times," he said.

 

December 19, 2013

Boundless, a startup that creates digital "textbook replacements," has settled with publishers Cengage, Macmillan and Pearson after the companies sued for violating their copyright, the company announced on Wednesday. The parties reached a confidential settlement that means Boundless can "continue doing what we set out to do on a high level throughout the world of education," CEO Ariel Diaz said.

The publishers brought the lawsuit against Boundless in March 2012, alleging the company had copied the ideas and presentation of Pearson's Biology, Cengage’s Principles of Economics and Macmillan Higher Ed’s Psychology. Boundless's alternatives were eventually rewritten. The case has been in remediation since May 2013, "but it’s nice to get it over the line," Diaz said.

In a joint statement, the publishers said "We are very pleased to reach a resolution regarding our case with Boundless. We will continue to safeguard the rights of our authors and take action against the misappropriation of our content by any and all parties."

 
December 18, 2013

The U.S. attorney’s office has charged a 20-year-old Harvard University student who emailed a bomb threat to campus officials and the student newspaper, CBS Boston reported. The incident led administrators to shut down campus and cancel classes (and scheduled exams) Monday, before local and state police and authorities from the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced that the four supposedly targeted buildings were clear. Eldo Kim of Cambridge, charged under the bomb hoax statute, will appear in court Wednesday and faces a maximum of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

December 18, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Lisa Peschel of the University of York discusses the discovery of theatrical works that were only performed in World War II Jewish ghettos. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

December 18, 2013

Efforts to trim $3.3 million from the budget at Colorado State University-Pueblo could force 50 faculty and staff layoffs, The Pueblo Chieftain newspaper reports. “What the (CSU System) really wants is for the institution to downsize because, over the years, we haven’t grown the way we needed,” the paper quoted the university's president, Lesley Di Mare, as saying. She blamed declining state revenue and enrollment.

December 18, 2013

The Apollo Education Group's global division is buying 70 percent of Open Colleges Australia for $99 million, with additional payments of up to $48 million, the for-profit chain announced Tuesday in a news release. Founded in 1910, Open Colleges offers more than 130 online courses. Company officials hope the Australian institution "provides a platform for Apollo Global to operate and expand in other areas of the region.”

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