Higher Education Quick Takes
As the Los Angeles Times continues a series about problems with a mammoth construction program at the Los Angeles Community College District, the district board on Wednesday fired the head of the program, the Times reported. The district has up until now criticized the series and defended the program. Larry Eisenberg, who was fired, has defended the program as well, while admitting that there were problems that still needed fixing.
A husband-and-wife team of professors -- Francois Sainfort and Julie Jacko -- were charged by Georgia authorities Wednesday with fraud for allegedly billing the Georgia Institute of Technology for their pay and other expenses while they had already moved to accept faculty positions in public health at the University of Minnesota, the Associated Press reported. Through their lawyer, Sainfort and Jacko said that they hid nothing, were open with Georgia Tech about their plans and did work for Georgia Tech during the time they were paid.
The University of Notre Dame has announced that it will use remote video, rather than elevated scissor lifts on which a person can film, to capture video of football practices. A student was killed in October when a lift fell, prompting a debate on their use.
Daniel S. Papp, president of Kennesaw State University, is defending Timothy J.L Chandler, whom Papp recently selected as provost, amid criticism of a paper Chandler wrote that cites Marx several times. Local critics have questioned the selection of Chandler because of a paper he published in The Journal of Higher Education in which he quoted Marx and Marxist ideas in a critique of the way colleges and universities have applied or failed to apply the ideas of Ernest Boyer's Scholarship Reconsidered. (The first page of the article is available on JSTOR, and JSTOR subscribers can read the article there.)
In Papp's statement, he said that "I am convinced that Dr. Chandler is neither Marxist nor anti-American, as some have alleged." Papp added that in his discussions with Chandler, his provost pick "expressed appreciation for the support for his appointment that he has received from the academic community, and declared that 'attacks on my character, including the suggestion that I am undemocratic, are baseless.' Further, Dr. Chandler said that he is 'not inclined to withdraw from the provost position under the cloud of a Red scare.' "
The University of Southern California today will announce a $200 million gift to rename its College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the Los Angeles Times reported. The donation, from David Dornsife, an alumnus, and his wife Dana, comes with no restrictions on how it can be spent, to the delight of President C. L. Max Nikias, who told the newspaper the gift was "transformative." USC plans to use the funds to support faculty hiring, research and fellowships, and its officials said the money would especially bolster the humanities and social sciences, the Times said.
The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation on Tuesday to rewrite the country's patent laws, mostly in ways that strengthen the hand of institutions (including research universities) and companies over individual inventors. Ninety-five senators voted for the measure, which was backed by many higher education groups. The legislation is designed to align the U.S. patent system more closely with those in other major countries, and it would alter the law so a patent for an innovation would be granted to the first inventor to file an application for it, rather than to the creator of the innovation.
Pennsylvania's four-year institutions of higher education would see a nearly 50 percent cut in state support while community colleges would escape relatively unscathed, according to a budget proposal released Tuesday by Governor Tom Corbett. State support for the 14 universities in the State System of Higher Education and the four state-related institutions, Pennsylvania State University, Temple University, the University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University, all would be reduced by about 50 percent -- from nearly $1.1 billion to $554 million. The state's 14 community colleges would see funding decrease by 1 percent -- from $214 million to $212 million.
"I am here to say that education cannot be the only industry exempt from recession," Corbett, a Republican who is in his first year in office after serving as the state's attorney general. "I ask nothing more of our best educated people than to face up to a hard economic reality. The system in which you have flourished is in trouble." Corbett also noted that increasing levels of state subsidy over the past decades had not done anything to hold down tuition hikes during that period.
The union representing the faculty of the universities of the state system warned that the cuts, if they stand, will result in "massive" tuition increases and threaten to wreak long-term economic damage. Penn State's president, Graham Spanier, called the cut "devastating" and added that the drop in state support that it represents -- from 8 percent to 4 percent of the university's total budget -- "suggests a redefinition of Penn State’s role as Pennsylvania’s land-grant institution."
The leader of the University of the District of Columbia's trustees told members of Washington's city council that the board may require President Allen Sessoms to repay some of the university funds he spent on first-class airfare, The Washington Post reported. Sessoms has come under fire for his spending practices, and the chairman of the UDC board told a sometimes tense meeting of the D.C. Council that the trustees may require the president to reimburse some funds. As has been true in Sessoms' past presidencies, too, his leadership has deeply divided the UDC campus.