Higher Education Quick Takes
The California State University System will close enrollment on most of its campuses for the spring 2013 semester, eliminating spots for about 16,000 would-be students, because of budget cuts imposed by the state, system officials said Monday. The statements by Robert Turnage, the system's assistant vice chancellor for budget, came in a call with reporters in advance of a trustee meeting later this week. Turnage told reporters that the system would limit enrollment next spring to all but a few hundred students who quality for transfer to one of eight campuses under a recent state law. (The campuses are Channel Islands, Chico, East Bay, Fullerton, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Bernardino and Sonoma.)
The number of students whose enrollment is blocked could rise to 25,000 in the 2013-14 academic year, Turnage said, depending on the outcome of November ballot measures that seek to raise taxes to supplement the state budget.
Felice Nudelman, executive director of education for The New York Times Company, was named Monday as the next chancellor of Antioch University. In her current position, Nudelman has worked to promote numerous education initiatives, including the offering of courses and the creation of educational materials and technology tools. At Antioch, she will lead a system of five geographically dispersed campuses and distance programs. Antioch College -- the undergraduate residential institution -- is now independent of the university system.
The Modern Language Association's Executive Council has issued a statement calling on doctoral programs in English to required "advanced competence" in at least one language beyond English, and to provide support for graduate students who want to study languages beyond any requirements. Most doctoral programs in English require reading proficiency in one non-English language, but the new statement suggests a higher bar may be in order.
"Those who pursue a Ph.D. in English are engaged in deep study of a language and its literary and cultural expressions," the statement says. "Most likely they will teach works in translation during their career. Knowledge of several languages and the process of language learning offer more than research tools enabling students to read primary and secondary materials in their original form. They promote consciousness of and sensitivity to both the multilingual contexts in which anglophone literatures are written and the work of translation in which contemporary writers and readers engage on a daily basis. Proficiency in more than one language promotes the cultural literacy essential to teaching in the global university of the future."
India is expanding its ties to Russian universities, and helping to create programs at those institutions to study India, The Hindu reported. India has just signed an agreement to create a Center of Indian Studies at Kazan Federal University, the first such India-backed institute in Russia outside of Moscow. Plans are currently under way for either chairs or research centers related to India at universities in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Krasnodar.
The number of Law School Admission Tests administered in the last year dropped by 16 percent over one year and 25 percent over two years, The New York Times reported. The drops come amid widespread reports that many law school graduates are having difficulty finding jobs for which law degrees are required, and lawsuits against some law schools for allegedly providing inaccurate job-placement data to prospective students.
"For a long time there has been this culturally embedded perception that if you go to law school, it will be worth the money," Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency, an organization pushing for more openness about job placement, told the Times. "The idea that law school is an easy ticket to financial security is finally breaking down."
The University of Missouri system’s departing president had qualms about the state’s flagship campus leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference, the Columbia Tribune reports. But after that leader stepped down to care for his ailing wife and it became clear Missouri wanted to join the SEC, the Tribune found evidence that the Big 12 had prepared a lawsuit it could “wave around” in a meeting with Missouri administrators.
The lawsuit was never filed and, after months of speculation, Missouri announced its move in November. Missouri became the fourth university to leave the Big 12 in 18 months, following the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and Texas A&M University at College Station. Missouri publicly campaigned for admission into the Big Ten in 2011 -- the state's governor even offered an unflattering comparison of the academic qualities of the conferences -- but pledged its support to the Big 12 after that bid failed. The Tigers will begin SEC competition in the fall as Texas Christian University and West Virginia University join the Big 12.
Spike TV has a new reality show, "American Digger," that debuts this week and anthropologists are not likely to be fans. The show is described this way in its press materials: "This new unscripted original series follows former professional wrestler turned modern day relic hunter Ric Savage, as he and his team from American Savage target areas such as battlefields and historic sites in the hopes of striking it rich and capitalizing on unearthing and selling bits of American history. The only thing standing in their way are the homeowners themselves, who Savage must convince to allow them to dig up their property using state-of-the-art metal detectors and heavy-duty excavation equipment. What artifacts they find, they sell for a substantial profit, but not before negotiating a deal to divide the revenue with the property owners."
The American Anthropological Association has sent a letter to Spike TV calling on it to withdraw or change the show. Association members are "deeply disturbed" about the show, the letter says, because its message seems to be that "it is okay to loot and destroy archaeological sites for monetary gain." The letter goes on to say that the show "will undermine critical public support for the protection, preservation and interpretation of the archaeological record."
Jewish students, faculty members and organizations are angry at the State University of New York for changing its academic calendar so that Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur will no longer be holidays and spring break will no longer be scheduled to overlap with Passover and Easter, The Jewish Week reported. Charles Robbins, vice provost for undergraduate education, told the newspaper that the idea was to treat all religious groups the same (not offering any holidays as university holidays), while encouraging faculty members and others to be flexible with those whose observances require them to miss some classes. "We are trying to be respectful of all religions," Robbins said. "We want to be equally welcoming to everybody."
Rabbi Joseph Topek of the Stony Brook Hillel has posted on his blog a critique of the new calendar, the adoption of which he wrote is in contrast to a long history of support at Stony Brook for students of many faiths. "We are very concerned that this policy will result in large numbers of faculty and staff being unable to teach classes on major holidays and large numbers of students will miss important course work," he wrote. "New York State Education Law (Section 224-a) requires the institution to provide all students with an equivalent make up opportunity for any required work missed due to religious observance. We all know, however, that the student-teacher relationship is not an equal one, and many students are intimidated or frightened by the prospect of revealing personal information to a teacher in order to ask for make up work."