Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, April 2, 2010 - 3:00am

The State University of New York at Binghamton says that Sally Dear, the adjunct who was an early whistle blower in what became a major scandal over the basketball team, will have a job next semester, The Press & Sun-Bulletin reported. Initially, it looked like Dear wouldn't have a job this semester -- a situation that Binghamton blamed on tight budgets but that seemed suspicious to those watching the basketball scandal grow. Amid publicity about the situation, she was hired back. The newspaper in Binghamton went back to Dear, who said that she hadn't yet been offered sections for next semester. But university officials assured the newspaper that she would be employed.

Friday, April 2, 2010 - 3:00am

Communications scholars are unaware of their ability to have fair use right to copyrighted works, and as a result are leaving out key materials from publications, according to a report issued Thursday by the Center for Social Media, at American University. Among the findings of a survey of members of the International Communication Association: "Nearly half the respondents express a lack of confidence about their copyright knowledge in relation to their research. Nearly a third avoided research subjects or questions and a full fifth abandoned research already under way because of copyright concerns. In addition, many ICA members have faced resistance from publishers, editors, and university administrators when seeking to include copyrighted works in their research."

Friday, April 2, 2010 - 3:00am

A new blog -- UMagazinology -- is attempting to support alumni and other college and university magazines that aspire not to just be house organs, but to provide valuable journalism at a time when serious coverage of the arts and sciences is disappearing from many newspapers. The founders of the blog have ties to the alumni magazine at Johns Hopkins University, which has a reputation for the quality of its writing and design. The blog aims to support such efforts and to call for magazine editors to focus on quality in ways that go beyond presidential updates.

The blog recently published a credo: "1. The only people required to read our magazines are our life partners, and half of them duck out on us. For everyone else, reading a university magazine is voluntary. 2. If your magazine is not being read, then every dollar that your school pours into it might as well be poured down a storm drain. 3. What do people read? People read stories. Engaging, compelling, deeply reported, well-crafted stories. True stories. 4. Ergo, if you want people to read your magazine, and thus not waste your school’s money, you need to tell great true stories, real stories that have narrative drive and vivid actors and meaningful knowledge, all conveyed with a storyteller’s verve."

At the same time, the blog post acknowledged how unpopular that view may be with some in higher education. "There will never be a shortage of senior administrators, deans, development communications VPs, alumni association directors, and public affairs professionals steadfast in their belief that the graduates of your academy will shove aside The New Yorker, the sports page, the laptop, and the remote in order to read the status of the latest capital campaign, news from the Muskegon alumni chapter, six superficial profiles of earnest undergraduates who are passionate about giving back to the community, and The Dean’s Message," the post says. "But the truth is, almost nobody reads that stuff. It’s boring, it insults our readers’ intelligence, and it can’t possibly compete with a new episode of Lost."

Thursday, April 1, 2010 - 3:00am

The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities is kicking off a series of regional meetings today to discuss the future of the public research university. The meetings will include university presidents and other experts who will review trends in state and federal support, the growing gaps financially between public and private research universities, and ideas for preserving the quality of the institutions. Today's meeting is at the University of Texas at Austin. The rest of the meetings, also in April, will be at the Universities of Georgia, Washington, and Wisconsin at Madison, and at Rutgers University.

Thursday, April 1, 2010 - 3:00am

The Longy School of Music, a conservatory with undergraduate and graduate programs in Cambridge, Mass., may merge with Bard College, The Boston Globe reported. The school has come through a difficult financial period, in which some instructors saw their jobs eliminated and the faculty voted to unionize, and is now looking for a partner rather than remaining a free-standing institution.

Thursday, April 1, 2010 - 3:00am

Duke University and Mike Pressler, who was the lacrosse coach when false rape accusations were made against three team members, have settled a slander suit by Pressler, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. Pressler's suit focused on comparisons the university made between him and his successor after he was forced out in 2006, amid the scandal over the allegations that (at that time) were widely treated as fact. No details were released about the settlement, except that Duke issued this statement: "Coach Michael Pressler is an excellent coach. He did a great job building the Duke men's lacrosse program, while maintaining a 100 percent graduation rate in his 16 years. Duke University regrets any adverse consequences that the Newsday or AP article had on Coach Pressler or his family. Duke wishes nothing but the best for Coach Pressler in his future endeavors, especially at Bryant University and as he leads Team USA in the World Lacrosse Championships."

Thursday, April 1, 2010 - 3:00am

If you notice more Franklin & Marshall clothing in Italy and elsewhere in Europe, it doesn't reflect a booming alumni base from the Pennsylvania liberal arts college. Rather, the Associated Press reported, the clothing is produced by an Italian company whose sales are growing, and are based on the same tastes that sell Abercrombie & Fitch attire. The college signed a licensing deal with the company in 2003 for products distributed in the United States, but the college doesn't control the rights abroad. Still, the company recently donated $135,000 to the college for a scholarship.

Thursday, April 1, 2010 - 3:00am

Some of the news in the student press this April Fool's Day:

  • The Diamondback at the University of Maryland at College Park is reporting that as one of his last initiatives before stepping down as president, Dan Mote is trying to have the institution's mascot changed from the terrapin to the panda.
  • Student Life, of Washington University in St. Louis, satirizes the boom in applications for Teach for America (ever popular with students worried about the job market) by suggsting that the career center is now urging students to consider joining Strip for America. The founder of that organization is quoted as saying: "A lot of people have this misperception that there are good strippers across the country, but that’s just not true. Some people today are really put at a major disadvantage; they live in communities with little or no funding for quality strip joints.”
  • Washington Square News has some fun with New York University's growth agenda by suggesting that the university has purchasd Columbia University.
  • The GW Hatchett focuses on the alleged Twitter account of George Washington University's president. Steven Knapp.

While most of the April Fool's Day news comes from student journalists, those comedians at Johns Hopkins University have announced on their home page that they are changing their name to John Hopkins University (dropping the S from Johns), since so many people do so anyway. President Ronald J. Daniel is quoted as saying: "We're fighting a losing battle here. And we strongly suspect the extra 's' was a typo in the first place."

Thursday, April 1, 2010 - 3:00am

Those who are the least likely to go to college are the most likely to gain economically from doing so, according to research being published today in American Sociological Review. The economic value of a college degree is nearly twice as high for women from disadvantaged backgrounds as for women from privileged backgrounds, the study says. For disadvantaged men, a college education is worth three times more than is the case for privileged college-goers. The study was conducted by Jennie E. Brand, assistant professor of sociology at the University of California at Los Angeles, and Yu Xie, the Otis Dudley Duncan Distinguished University Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan. Brand and Xie used databases to track 12,686 Americans who were 14 to 22 years old when they were first interviewed in 1979 and who were followed through 2008.

Thursday, April 1, 2010 - 3:00am

Among life sciences faculty members at the universities whose medical schools receive the most money from the National Institutes of Health, there are some notable gender gaps, according to a study published in the journal Academic Medicine. The women reported working longer hours, and taking on more administrative and professional activities, than did the men. Female faculty members, across faculty ranks, had fewer publications across all ranks. After controlling for productivity and other factors, female researchers in the life sciences earned, on average, $13,226 less a year than did male researchers.

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