Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Monday, March 1, 2010 - 3:00am

A frustrated lawyer (or someone claiming to be one) is attempting to sell a law degree on Craigslist and eBay. "After several years of practicing law with a bunch of nerds in Silicon Valley I have come to the conclusion that my law degree is useless and I don't want to be a lawyer anymore. Though I spent over $100,000 on it I am willing to sell it for the bargain basement price of $59,250, which is the current value of my remaining student loan balance," the ad states. It adds a disclaimer: "This piece of shit isn't even written in English. It's in Latin or something, but I have the translation. It says 'Haha. We took your tuition money bitch, now suck it. Sincerely, President of the University.' " Via e-mail on Sunday, the anonymous person who posted the ad said that the high bid so far is $200 although the most creative bid is "a $50 offer from a documentary filmmaker to urinate on my diploma and then set it on fire." Beyond the bids, the response has been positive, he said. "It's amazing that out of the around 250 replies I've received probably 98 percent have mentioned how I'm spot on that the legal profession is wacked. Many people have written about their frustrations with large law firms, being unemployed, and/or student loan debt," he said. While the ads did not identify the source of the law degree, several comments on the blog Above the Law identify the diploma as coming from Georgetown University's law school.

Monday, March 1, 2010 - 3:00am

East Stroudsburg University has suspended Gloria Gadsden, a sociology professor, for joking comments she posted on her Facebook page that apparently were taken seriously, The Pocono Record reported. One comment was about wanting to hire a hit man. Another said "had a good day today, DIDN'T want to kill even one student :-). Now Friday was a different story." Gadsden said that in the meeting where she was told of the suspension, a dean referenced last month's murders at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Gadsden said that the humor was clear to her Facebook friends and she doesn't know why the university was monitoring her account. University officials said that they did not routinely monitor Facebook accounts and that they couldn't discuss details of Gadsden's case.

Friday, February 26, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Alabama at Huntsville has started the process of firing Amy Bishop, the faculty member facing murder charges in the killings of three of her colleagues this month, The Huntsville Times reported. Already, the university has suspended Bishop without pay, retroactively to Feb. 12, the date of the murders.

Friday, February 26, 2010 - 3:00am

Adjuncts at St. Francis College, in New York, voted this week to unionize, affiliating with New York State United Teachers, American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. The vote was 96-47, with union organizers saying that adjuncts needed better pay and benefits. The vote creates the latest collective bargaining unit among adjuncts, who unlike tenure-track faculty members can be unionized at private as well as at public institutions. College administrators opposed the union drive, arguing that collective bargaining was not needed and producing videos of adjuncts who said they didn't want a union.

Friday, February 26, 2010 - 3:00am

Albion College, in Michigan, has announced plans to eliminate the equivalent of 15 full-time faculty positions (about 10 percent of the faculty), in anticipation of enrollment declines in the years ahead, The Jackson Citizen Patriot reported. The college says that some of the job cuts will come through early retirement, but others may not. Faculty leaders say that they are concerned about how positions -- especially of tenured or tenure-track faculty -- are going to be selected for elimination.

Friday, February 26, 2010 - 3:00am

President Obama on Thursday announced the 2009 recipients of the National Medal of the Arts and the National Medal of the Humanities. In the former category, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music was honored for its impact on the world of music. Humanities medals are going to, among others, Robert A. Caro, the biographer of Lyndon Johnson and Robert Moses; Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor of history at Rutgers University and the author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family; David Levering Lewis, a professor of history at New York University and the biographer of W.E.B. Du Bois; and William H. McNeill, a historian at the University of Chicago who played a key role in launching the study of world history as a field.

Friday, February 26, 2010 - 3:00am

After days of intense debate, much of it with racial overtones, over a recent step competition, Coca-Cola, the sponsor has declared co-winners, the Associated Press reported. Step has historically been associated with historically black fraternities and sororities, so many were surprised when a white sorority from the University of Arkansas won the Sprite Step Off on Saturday, and some observers charged that there must have been scoring irregularities. In the discussion on YouTube of the winning performance by the Zeta Tau Alphas, many of the comments reference that they are white. On Thursday, Coca-Cola announced that a review had uncovered a "scoring discrepancy" and that the scores between the first and second place teams were so close that they would share the prize money and the first place honor. The new co-winning team, whose members are black, is from Alpha Kappa Alpha at Indiana University.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst acknowledged that it allowed a student who confessed to raping a friend to stay on campus without significant punishment, according to an investigation by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, appearing in The Boston Globe. The university said that its handling of the incident was a mistake. The incident is described in a broader report suggesting that minimal punishments often follow reports of sexual assaults on campuses in New England.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Microsoft announced Wednesday it is extending its "identity federation" services to its college and university clients who use Live@edu, the company’s integrated e-mail, calendar, instant messaging, and online file storage suite. An “identity federation” is a group of institutions that allows students, researchers, and employees who need to access password-protected Web sites at multiple institutions to use a single log-in identification and password. With thousands of institutions worldwide already using Live@edu, the federation is already built, said Cameron Evans, Microsoft’s chief technology officer, in an interview yesterday. Evans compared the service to the driver’s license system, where a person who acquired a driver’s license in Maryland can use it to drive or verify I.D. in each of the other 49 states, rather than having to acquire and carry around 50 different licenses. Identity federations are currently a hot topic in campus IT; Educause last year recognized several companies that had applied the concept to higher education with its Catalyst Award.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether Liberty University violated its tax-exempt status by throwing its weight behind a Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates. The request states that Liberty's leaders used Liberty Champion, "ostensibly a student publication but one that is actually subject to university control, to run a series of articles" attacking the Democratic candidate (who lost narrowly) and backing the Republican. Americans United also said that Liberty "twice arranged for a 'voter guide' published by the Virginia Family Foundation to appear in the Champion" and that the guide "distorted" the Democratic candidate's views. Further, the complaint states that on Election Day, a senior Liberty official "drove around campus with the College Republicans, rounding up voters." Liberty officials told The Lynchburg News & Advance that the claims were "bogus" and part of a campaign of harassment by the group against the university.

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