Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, May 13, 2010 - 3:00am

The controversy over Marquette University's decision to rescind a job offer to be dean of arts and sciences to Jodi O'Brien, a sociologist at Seattle University who is a lesbian and whose scholarship has focused on sexuality and gender, continues. O'Brien was very open about her sexual orientation and her scholarship with the search committee, which in turn was open with senior administrators at Marquette, who first offered her the job and then rescinded it. In new developments:

  • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Rev. Jerome Listecki, the archbishop of Milwaukee, called the Rev. Robert A. Wild, president of Marquette, to express concerns about the appointment. Many on the campus have speculated that pressure from outside the university contributed to the decision to rescind the offer to O'Brien.
  • The president of the American Sociological Association sent a letter to Marquette, strongly objecting to its treatment of O'Brien and calling on the university to once again offer her the dean's job. The letter noted that the study of issues of sexuality is a well established and respected part of sociology. "We condemn the action of Marquette University’s senior officials in rescinding its offer to Dr. O’Brien. By doing so, Marquette University appears to have violated its own non-discrimination policy as well as the principles of free inquiry that govern all great universities," said the letter, from Evelyn Nakano Glenn, director of the Center for Race and Gender at the University of California at Berkeley.
Thursday, May 13, 2010 - 3:00am

The number of community college students who transferred to University of Texas System campuses rose by 11.3 percent from 2008 to 2009, a spike that officials attributed to a set of new programs and policies the system has implemented in recent years. The comparable increase from 2007 to 2008 was 1 percent, UT officials said.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - 3:00am

A national survey of college students has found them to be worried about job prospects, but maintaining strong levels of support for President Obama. The survey was conducted by the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, at California State University at Monterey Bay. Only 64 percent of the students are confident in their ability to find good jobs -- a record low level. While President Obama's approval ratings have fallen among students and the public, they remain quite high among students: 66 percent, compared to about half of all Americans.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - 3:00am

Michael Hogan, president of the University of Connecticut, was named Tuesday as the next president of the University of Illinois system. Prior to going to UConn in 2007, Hogan held senior positions at Ohio State University and the University of Iowa. Hogan replaces B. Joseph White, who resigned as Illinois's president last year amid a scandal over admissions preferences for the politically connected.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - 3:00am

Arizona State University has lost about 15 to 20 faculty job applicants since the passage of an immigration law that is widely viewed as encouraging ethnic and racial profiling, The Arizona Republic reported. Michael Crow, president of the university and a critic of the law, cited the figures in an interview. He also said that the university has received calls from officials "all over the world asking if it's still safe to send students," he said. "We say everything will be fine."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Wisconsin at Madison has barred Gary Splitter, a tenured professor who studies an infectious disease, from his laboratory for five years because of unauthorized experiments with a potentially dangerous, drug-resistant germ, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. Such punishments are extremely rare. Splitter said he had not been aware of the experiments, and that they were conducted by graduate students in his lab whom the university failed to train on safety issues. "The University of Wisconsin failed to provide the right education," Splitter said. "The bottom line is that this wasn't just an investigation of one individual. It was a major meltdown by the university."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - 3:00am

Under a plan pushed by Gov. David Paterson, most state employees -- including faculty members at the four-year campuses of the City University of New York and the State University of New York -- will be furloughed for one day next week. The furloughs apply only to state employees, which exempts community college faculty members, who are considered local employees. The university systems say that they will try to carry out the furloughs in ways that are least disruptive, which may be particularly challenging given that they will take place at the end of the academic year. The City University of New York scheduled its furloughs for Friday, May 21, but also said that any faculty members with teaching or proctoring duties on that day should be furloughed on another day that week.

The faculty unions for both CUNY and SUNY are protesting the furloughs, holding protests at the governor's office and backing legal challenges to the furloughs.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - 3:00am

It's the time of year -- after one class has been admitted and before the next year's cycle is fully under way -- that colleges tend to announce they are ending standardized testing requirements. And Southern New Hampshire University has just done so -- becoming the second institution this month in in the state to make such a shift.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - 3:00am

John T. Casteen III, president of the University of Virginia, met with Gov. Bob McDonnell Tuesday to urge reforms in state law so colleges would be informed of the off-campus arrests of their students, The Charlottesville Daily Progress reported. Casteen noted that the university was never informed of an incident in which the student who is facing murder charges in the death of another student this month was arrested in 2008 and allegedly threatened a police officer. “Information of that kind would have lit up our system,” Casteen said. “Students who do those sorts of things would find themselves suspended immediately … In any event, I would like to know if one of my students threatened to kill a police officer.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - 3:00am

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed a scholarship reform bill, arguing that it does not go far enough, the Chicago Tribune reported. The legislation concerns scholarships that legislators are allowed to award the scholarships to whomever they want in their district -- and critics have noted for years that these scholarships frequently go to the relatives of political contributors. The legislation that the governor vetoed would have banned the awarding of scholarships to anyone whose family could be linked to a contribution in the previous five years, but Quinn said that was not enough. "A scholarship program that is not based on need or merit, I don't think is a proper thing for our state. That's why I vetoed this bill and urged the legislature to abolish this program," he said.

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