Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, May 10, 2010 - 3:00am

Alabama officials plan to appeal a judge's ruling last week that invalidated double dipping by state legislators who also work in the state's community college system, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. The widespread practice has been cited by many as creating conflicts of interest.

Friday, May 7, 2010 - 3:00am

Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology have formed a new union, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. Organizers plan to focus on working conditions and health care.

Friday, May 7, 2010 - 3:00am

A former professor at the University of Texas at Austin is pushing for the institution to change the name of Simkins Hall, which honors a former professor who was an organizer for the Ku Klux Klan, KXAN News reported. University officials say that they agree that William Stewart Simkins stood for some terrible ideas, but that it is not worth the time and money to rename every building that honors someone with terrible views that were once more accepted than they are today.

Friday, May 7, 2010 - 3:00am

The Peralta Community College District will pay $90,000 to two students who faced suspension for praying in class, The Contra Costa Times reported. The settlement also rescinds disciplinary letters placed in the students' files. College officials declined to comment, but the students said it was an important victory for their religious rights.

Friday, May 7, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Justice Department's Antitrust Division is investigating National Collegiate Athletic Association scholarship rules. While the Justice Department has not commented on the case, an NCAA statement confirmed the inquiry and said that it focused on rules requiring athletic scholarships to be awarded a year at a time and with a five-year limit. The NCAA said that it is "is working with Justice to help it understand" the rationales for the rules. Advocates for athletes' rights have pushed for multiyear scholarships as one way to bolster financial security for college athletes.

Friday, May 7, 2010 - 3:00am

As students leave their housing of the last academic year, many colleges encourage recycling of the possessions they are discarding. But the University of Colorado at Boulder is cracking down on one form of recycling -- dumpster diving. The Daily Camera reported that the university has been concerned about non-students visiting dumpsters this time of year, The university has placed "no trespassing" signs by the dumpsters, making it possible to prosecute those who come from off-campus to look for usable materials there.

Friday, May 7, 2010 - 3:00am

While several academic organizations have announced that they will stay away from Arizona because of the state's new immigration law, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association is going ahead with its scheduled annual meeting this month in Tucson. The association has issued statements condemning the new law -- which many believe will encourage ethnic and racial profiling -- but also has reminded members that the organization is based at the University of Arizona and that moving a meeting at the last minute can have many consequences.

"Many of our members have written to us in support of this position, while many others have urged us to cancel the meeting or change venues. We appreciate the range of opinions expressed regarding what it means to hold our meeting in Arizona at this moment," said the statement. "As such, we request your support of our commitment to make this meeting a site of sincere and serious coalition-building and collective action. This desire to act responsibly as an organization within the state drives our decision. However, members also should be aware that cancelling our meeting in Tucson or changing venues would have immediate and dire consequences for the Association that so many have worked so hard to build: near-certain bankruptcy, a probable lawsuit from the hotel with which we have a signed contract, and as a result, disbandment. We are also mindful that, while some NAISA members are financially and organizationally in a position to change or cancel their bookings for travel to Arizona, and are certainly at liberty to do so, many members are not in a position to make such changes so close to the meeting without incurring tremendous personal expense."

Friday, May 7, 2010 - 3:00am

The American Association of University Professors and the American Civil Liberties Union are asking the University of Virginia to reject demands from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for documents on the research of a global warming expert who once worked at the university. Many conservative groups believe that documents of climate change experts will confirm their skepticism about global warming. The AAUP/ACLU argument is not about global warming, but about the rights of professors to do controversial work.

Rachel Levinson, senior counsel with the AAUP, said in a press announcement: "The breadth of Attorney General Cuccinelli's request suggests that it is meant to intimidate faculty members and discourage them from pursuing politically controversial work; it's a shot across the bow to all public universities in Virginia. Cuccinelli's injection of politics into the academic arena is profoundly counter not only to the interests of scholars in climate science but to the interests of the state's flagship institution in academic excellence and dispassionate inquiry and to the public interest as a whole in vigorous debate."

A spokeswoman for the university said that it has requested and received an extension, until July, to comply with the request. She said that "the attorney general has broad authority to initiate an investigation such as this. And we are required by law to comply." She added that the Faculty Senate and the AAUP "are the ones able to initiate a public debate about state policy and whether the policy needs to be reviewed."

Friday, May 7, 2010 - 3:00am

Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, has announced that he is ordering a study on "restrictive" policies on the transfer of academic credit from colleges to one another. In a letter to the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, one of the groups that requested such a study, he said that the analysis should be completed within a year. With more students attending multiple institutions to earn a bachelor's degree, transfer rules have become increasingly controversial, with many community colleges charging that they are needlessly detailed and some for-profit institutions saying their students are discriminated against.

Thursday, May 6, 2010 - 3:00am

Average tenured faculty salaries at the University of Toronto ($157,566) are the highest in Canada, according to new data from Statistics Canada, Canwest News Service reported. Fourteen universities now have average salaries for tenured faculty members that exceed $100,000.


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