Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 26, 2012

Faculty members at the University of Oregon are announcing a drive to seek union representation in a chapter that would be affiliated jointly with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors. The AFT and the AAUP have been pushing together to unionize public research university campuses -- a sector within higher education that has seen proportionally fewer faculty unions than other parts of public higher education. Oregon is a "card check" state, meaning that if half of the eligible faculty members sign a card seeking a union, there would not need to be a vote. An Oregon spokesman said via e-mail that the university's leaders "support the right of workers to organize and have maintained neutrality on the issue of a faculty union. The university seeks to simply provide factual information to assist those affected by the effort to make informed decisions."

January 26, 2012

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey proposed Wednesday that the Rutgers University Camden campus be merged with Rowan University, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The proposal is part of a broader higher education reform plan that would try to redefine and rename the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The governor says that the Camden-Rowan plan would create a better higher education presence in the southern part of the state. But opposition is already emerging to that part of the plan. The faculty union at Rutgers issued a statement questioning the merger, and saying that its members at Camden want to be part of a research university. While Rutgers and Rowan should cooperate more, the union says, their missions are sufficiently distinct that a merger is inappropriate.

January 26, 2012

Many Muslim students at Ohio State University are furious at The Lantern, the student newspaper there, for running an ad they view as anti-Muslim, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The ad lists terror suspects under the headline "Former Leaders of the Muslim Student Association (MSA): Where Are They Now?" The ad also promotes a booklet called "Muslim Hate Groups on Campus." That booklet is published by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which also bought the ad. The center is led by the conservative activist who has been at the center of many campus disputes. He told the Dispatch that the Lantern was among the first publications to which he sent the ad, and that he was pleased with the debate.

January 26, 2012

Stanford University today will release a plan to revise undergraduate education requirements. "Breadth" requirements (those outside the major) would focus on "Ways of Thinking, Ways of Doing." This approach deals both with the content of courses, but also their format. In terms of content, students would be required to study courses to teach them seven skills: aesthetic and interpretive inquiry; social inquiry; scientific analysis; formal and quantitative reasoning; engaging difference; moral and ethical reasoning; and creative expression. In terms of course format, the report calls for freshmen to have courses that include lectures, discussion sessions and small seminars.

January 26, 2012

Rick Santorum, the Republican presidential candidate, on Wednesday again bashed colleges in a campaign appearance, urging those at a campaign event to stop giving contributions to colleges, CBS News reported. "It's no wonder President Obama wants every kid to go to college," he said. "The indoctrination that occurs in American universities is one of the keys to the left holding and maintaining power in America. And it is indoctrination. If it was the other way around, the ACLU would be out there making sure that there wasn't one penny of government dollars going to colleges and universities, right?" Santorum also accused colleges of being anti-religion, and of turning students against religion. "If they taught Judeo-Christian principles in those colleges and universities, they would be stripped of every dollar. If they teach radical secular ideology, they get all the government support that they can possibly give them. Because you know 62 percent of children who enter college with a faith conviction leave without it." (Several recent studies contradict Santorum's ideas on the relationship between higher education and faith. One study in fact found that while many young adults become less religious, the declines are greater among those who don't attend college than those who do.)

 

January 25, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, David Mullin of Tulane University discusses his work using bacteria to convert old newspaper into biofuel. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

January 25, 2012

Authorities in Tunisia on Tuesday broke up a sit-in that started in November to protest the policy of the University of Manouba banning the niqab, or the full face veil worn by some observant Muslim women, AFP reported. University officials said that they asked for police help to have the protesters -- many of whom are not students at the university -- removed. The university has said that there are security issues in having students enroll when they can't be seen at all because of the niqab.

 

January 25, 2012

Government programs aimed at encouraging more students to complete degrees in science, mathematics, education or technology should be better coordinated across agencies, a report issued Friday by the Government Accountability Office recommended. The report, undertaken after a request from the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, found that the 209 STEM programs across 13 agencies frequently overlap but that fewer than half of those programs coordinate with similar efforts. Just because programs overlap doesn't mean they are redundant, the GAO wrote in its report. Still, the office recommended that the Office of Science and Technology Policy create a strategy and plan for STEM programs, including how the programs should share information across agencies, and evaluate the programs based on their outcomes. 

January 25, 2012

About one-third of South Korean universities have announced tuition cuts, The Korea Herald reported. The government has been urging the cuts, in a year in which student aid is being increased, to make higher education more affordable for Korean families.

January 25, 2012

John Chadima resigned suddenly this month as senior associate athletic director at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Tuesday night, the university revealed the reason (which has been the subject of much speculation). According to an investigation commissioned by the university, Chadima made an unwelcome sexual advance on a student employee and threatened to fire him if he reported the incident, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. The advance took place after a Rose Bowl party for students who worked for the athletic program. The student said he was asked to stay after the party to drink with Chadima. Through his lawyer, Chadima released a statement in which he said that the incident "is certainly not reflective of the type of person I am, my lifestyle, my management style or my faith or beliefs.... However I make no excuses and have come to the realization that over the past few months, alcohol had controlled and consumed my life," the statement continued. "I am taking steps to correct that problem in my life at this time."

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