Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - 3:00am

The Texas Board of Education, whose textbook rules are influential and sometimes controversial, is getting back into the culture wars and is going to consider whether school textbooks have become (as its conservative members appear to believe) pro-Islamic and anti-Christian, The Dallas Morning News reported. A draft of a resolution prepared for the board states that "diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions in social studies texts," and suggests that too much attention is paid to Christian attacks on Muslims during the Crusades (ignoring attacks by Muslims on Christians), "implying that Christian brutality and Muslim loss of life are significant, but Islamic cruelty and Christian deaths are not."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 3:00am

States are continuing to develop their education data systems, and to link multiple systems when they have them, the State Higher Education Executive Officers said in a new report. The survey, which found that 45 states have at least one student unit record and 29 states have between two and five systems, updates a 2007 study that the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems produced for the Lumina Foundation for Education.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 3:00am

Columbia University researchers have found that 25 out of 32 highly paid consultants to medical device companies failed to reveal, or their journals failed to reveal, those payments in subsequent journal articles, The New York Times reported. The consultants involved were each paid at least $1 million each. “We found a massive, dramatic system failure,” said David J. Rothman, one of the Columbia scholars who did the study.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 3:00am

Martin Samuels, a Harvard University medical professor, has started a new company that will provide continuing medical education that is different from many of the existing programs in that it will not be subsidized by the pharmaceutical industry, The Boston Globe reported. The influence of drug company money on programs in which medical professionals learn about new treatments has been widely criticized, but some have noted the lack of programs that are totally free of the pharmaceutical cash. The new business will get its revenue directly from universities, hospitals and other organizations that want to provide continuing medical education -- and will not take any money from the drug industry.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 3:00am

Dismas Charities, which provides assistance to criminals seeking to re-enter society, has responded to an outpouring of criticism by giving up luxury suites it was renting at University of Louisville basketball and football games, at a total cost of $137,000 annually, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. While charity officials initially defended the rentals, a statement Monday said that the organization "heard the concerns of the community." The university agreed to release the charity from its contracts for the suites.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 3:00am

The Western Athletic Conference is suing the University of Nevada at Reno, California State University at Fresno and the Mountain West Conference over the decision of the two universities to leave WAC for Mountain West, The Reno Gazette-Journal reported. Details on the suit and the universities' responses were not available.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 3:00am

Several Canadian medical schools are rethinking the way they admit students, and are expressing a willingness to consider those without as much of a science background as has been the norm, Maclean's reported. Lewis Tomalty, vice dean for medical education at Queen’s University, said that while some science is "necessary," there are advantages to having students with a range of backgrounds. "We’re looking at how extensive [science prerequisites] have to be and are certainly looking to change the actual admissions requirements," he said.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 3:00am

Yale University announced Monday that it has agreed to work with the National University of Singapore to create a residential liberal arts college in Singapore. Yale's statement stressed that no final decisions have been made, that Singapore is paying all costs, and that the degrees awarded would not be Yale degrees. Yale has, to date, been cautious about the international branch campus movement many other institutions have embraced. While many details remain to be worked out, the discussions are not just about Yale providing assistance, but about the new institution being called the Yale-NUS College and being governed by a board with half of its members appointed by Yale. An editorial in The Yale Daily News urged caution on the idea. "This is ultimately a question of what Yale actually is. Is Yale a school rooted in its New England home, defined by its place and architecture in New Haven — a school that can and should only exist here? Or is Yale about education, wherever that may occur, whether in a classroom on Old Campus or on a computer screen in Turkey or at a liberal arts college in Singapore?" the editorial asked.

Monday, September 13, 2010 - 3:00am

Colleges saw average increases of 6.7 percent for employee coverage and 7 percent for employee/family coverage in the most commonly offered forms of health coverage offered, according to an annual survey released by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. The survey also found declines in the percentage of colleges paying for full premium costs of their employees.

Monday, September 13, 2010 - 3:00am

Students and artists at Texas Southern University are angry that President John Rudley had workers paint over two murals in the administration building, The Houston Chronicle reported. The murals were a senior project of Harvey Johnson, who went on to teach at the university for 34 years until he retired in 2007, and are part of a tradition in which art students were encouraged to paint murals. A university spokeswoman initially said that painters covered the murals by mistake, but Rudley acknowledged that it was his choice, telling the newspaper that "when I bring dignitaries to campus, I can't have them seeing that kind of thing. All art isn't good art." The murals were painted in 1971 and reflected the Black Power movement of the time, including nonstandard English, as in the title of the work Dere's a "Han Writing on de Wall." An editorial in the newspaper denounced the decision to paint over the murals, saying: "[P]reparing for the wider world shouldn't require erasing one's African-American identity. And African-American art and history have something to say to all Americans, not just black ones. Of all places, it seems to us, a historically black university ought to celebrate the complexities of that culture. By erasing Johnson's mural, TSU erased an important part of its own heritage - and its students' heritage, and its city's. Maybe the paintings made the president and the dignitaries who visited him uncomfortable. But art, like education, isn't about making people comfortable. Sometimes we all need to read the handwriting on the wall."

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