Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - 3:00am

The Boston Globe explores the case of Adam Wheeler, the former Harvard University senior who used fraudulent materials to gain admission, to ask the question of whether admissions systems are too trusting. The article notes that many leading universities engage in relatively limited verifications of materials.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - 3:00am

The officers and board of the American Historical Association on Tuesday issued a statement calling on the Texas State Board of Education to reconsider history standards that have been widely criticized for attempting to put a conservative spin on history by adding and subtracting certain people and ideas. The AHA statement said that the state's standards are inconsistent with national standards and with what Texas school children learn in the early grades. As but one example, the historians said that the Texas standards are "almost entirely discounting the importance of human activity in North America before the British colonization of the Atlantic Coast." Offering a comparison to science, the AHA statement said that "no curriculum in chemistry would be of much value to students if it made arbitrary selections and deletions among the elements to be studied; if the focus were to be on oxygen with hydrogen omitted, then students would be at a considerable disadvantage when it came to understanding water."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - 3:00am

A coalition of academic associations issued a joint statement Tuesday condemning Arizona's new immigration laws. The policy "threatens to inflame anti-immigrant sentiments and undermine constructive solutions to the challenges faced by communities in Arizona and across the nation. We call upon the governor, legislators, and people of Arizona to work diligently and swiftly to repeal these laws," says the statement. "Our organizations include members from fields including sociology, criminology, political science, peace studies, psychology, anthropology, environmental studies, Chicano/a studies, and a multitude of related areas of study. Our collective membership numbers more than 10,000 scholars, educators, and activists, with many residing in Arizona. The decision to join together in issuing the open letter below represents an unprecedented and historical moment of collaboration."

The groups endorsing the letter are: the American Studies Association; the Chicano/Latino Faculty and Staff Association of Arizona State University; the Justice Studies Association; Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social; National Association for Chicano and Chicana Studies; Native American and Indigenous Studies Association; Peace and Justice Studies Association; Psychologists for Social Responsibility; Society for the Study of Social Problems; and Sociologists Without Borders.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 3:00am

A Texas grand jury has indicted four former Texas Lutheran University football players for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in an alleged attack on a football player from the University of the Incarnate Word -- at a party in the fall not long after Incarnate Word defeated Texas Lutheran at football, The Gazette-Enterprise reported. The local district attorney describe the deadly weapons involved: “A deadly weapon is anything that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. In this particular case, we alleged the hands and feet of the perpetrators as deadly weapons due to the brutal way in which they were used in this particular assault,” she said. “When deciding to allege that the hands and feet were utilized as deadly weapons, we look at all the circumstances, including the number of assailants, the injuries inflicted, the area of the body the injuries are located and the helplessness of the victim.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 3:00am

Jewish leaders are criticizing the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee for failing to respond adequately to incidents that took place during an April 29 celebration of the anniversary of Israel's independence. During the event, a person protesting the event was arrested for assaulting one of the organizers. Also, pro-Palestinian students chalked the area where the event was to take place with anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian statements. According to the Jewish organizations, the chalkings also included a swastika. "The events -- including the image of the swastika -- were reported in the media. Jewish students on campus expressed fears for their safety; some said they no longer felt safe and welcome on the UWM campus, cited other anti-Semitic incidents and, sadly, spoke of giving up the display of their religious symbols on campus," said the statement from Jewish leaders in Milwaukee. They went on to say that "a strong statement" condemning the actions taken against the pro-Israel group had not been made by the university.

On Monday, Carlos E. Santiago, the chancellor at Milwaukee, did release a statement. (A spokesman said that he had held off in hope of being able to issue a joint statement with the Jewish leaders, but respected their right to release their own statement.) In Santiago's statement, he said that he wanted to "reaffirm the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as a place for the free exchange of ideas and perspectives. Such exchanges, however, should be made in a civil, peaceful and constructive manner. UWM does not tolerate violence as an expression of any viewpoint." He said that he would encourage the creation of "programs that will enhance our campus community's commitment to a culture of safety, civility and respect in the exchange of ideas and opinions."

However, Santiago declined to condemn the chalkings -- in part because he said a swastika was never verified as part of that protest. He said that after officials learned of the chalkings, administrators went to the area. "At the time of the inspection, no members of the administrative team saw any evidence of a swastika. The messages that were seen represented protected political speech, and, therefore, were left undisturbed. I want to emphasize that chalking on university property that crosses the line of free speech to create an atmosphere of harassment for students of any race, religion, nationality or other protected status will not be tolerated."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 3:00am

An adjunct who was fired from his job at Northwest Arkansas Community College is getting his position back, the Associated Press reported. Terry Phillips lost his job after he made critical comments to a newspaper about a local judge who had been arrested. Phillips said he was "appalled" that the judge had not resigned. The judge's wife is a member of the college's board, the AP said. However, the adjunct is now being rehired.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 3:00am

Robert Felner, a former dean of education at the University of Louisville, was sentenced Monday to 63 months in prison for defrauding the university and the University of Rhode Island, where he had worked previously, of $2.3 million and for tax evasion, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. In a plea agreement in January, Felner pleaded guilty to nine federal charges. Many professors complained that the university for years ignored complaints over Felner, who was highly successful at attracting grants and attention to the education school before the investigations of his conduct started.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 3:00am

A Canadian government effort to better finance leading scientists has attracted four leading British scientists to accept positions in Canada, setting off fears of a brain drain in Britain, The Guardian reported. The University of Alberta lured two of the scientists -- one from Durham University and one from the University of Oxford.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 3:00am

Nylink, a library cooperative program that is part of the State University of New York, but that also serves libraries in the City University of New York and those at private colleges, is folding. “Unfortunately, the revenue just isn’t there any longer, and we have no choice but to wind down operations,” said a statement from W. David Penniman, executive director of Nylink. “We are working with our staff, vendors and members to ensure a smooth transition over the next 12 months.”

Monday, May 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Lambuth University, a financially struggling Methodist University in Tennessee, needs to find a purchaser this week or could be at serious risk of closure, the university's president, Bill Seymour said Friday, The Jackson Sun reported. Seymour indicated that the university may not be able to make payroll on time in May.

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