Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, February 11, 2010 - 3:00am

Ivor van Heerden, who was a leading whistle blower in the analysis of what went wrong after Katrina hit New Orleans, is suing Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, charging that he was fired from his position at the university's hurricane research because of anger over his criticisms of the Army Corps of Engineers, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. LSU officials deny that he lost his position for that reason, but decline to discuss specifics, citing the confidentiality of employment matters.

Thursday, February 11, 2010 - 3:00am

Gretchen Bataille announced Wednesday that she is leaving the presidency of the University of North Texas at the end of the month, stunning many on the campus. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Bataille was named to the position in 2006, and has been a forceful advocate for the institution's push to become a research university. Student leaders, who said that they considered her a strong ally, said they were concerned about the news. No explanation has been offered for the sudden resignation.

Thursday, February 11, 2010 - 3:00am

Educators and schools -- at all levels -- are experiencing more attacks by government and other officials, according to a report released Wednesday by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The study includes numerous examples of attacks on higher education, such as a scholar in Chad who was attacked with a grenade by government officials after he wrote about a previous regime, and assassination attempts on a Columbian academic who wrote articles linking government officials to the illegal drug industry.

Thursday, February 11, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Iowa has canceled a student-run theater's planned showing of a pornographic film this weekend, The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported. A spokesman said: "It is clearly not in the public interest for a public facility at a public institution to be showing a film of this nature. If showing the film were essential to an educational objective, the situation would be different. The intent in this case was to provide entertainment."

Thursday, February 11, 2010 - 3:00am

Stand With Us, a group supportive of Israel, has placed video on YouTube showing Monday's incident at the University of California at Irvine in which the Israeli ambassador to the United States was repeatedly interrupted with shouts and jeers, delaying and disrupting his talk. The video shows students shouting, the increasingly frustrated responses from university officials and several students -- some of whom were arrested -- being escorted from the auditorium.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 - 3:00am

Calvin College has become the first institution covered by a new rule of the American Philosophical Association of requiring any college that violates any part of the association's anti-bias policy to have job listings with the association flagged. The rule was adopted late last year in response to the concerns of many philosophers about having their association list jobs from institutions that do not hire gay professors. One aim of the policy, proponents said, was to then be able to lobby colleges to change their policies. Some philosophers are now trying to do just that with a petition urging the college to accept gay professors. "One might puzzle over a form of Christianity that is committed to the inequality of people, and in particular of job applicants for positions in philosophy. More disturbing, however, is the stigma Calvin College feels entitled to place upon those who are doubly exposed: as lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgendered in a society that has yet to accept them, and as people seeking jobs during difficult economic times," the petition says. "Obtaining academic positions in philosophy is never an easy task; doing so in the face of the current economic climate is nothing less than traumatic. That Calvin College would engage in a most egregious form of discrimination under these circumstances strikes us as not only deplorable but indeed as displaying a lack of basic human concern."

A spokesman for the college said he could not comment on the petition. The college requires faculty members to be in good standing with the Christian Reformed Church (or some similar churches), and Calvin's statement about sexual orientation states that all people should be treated with "respect" and "understanding," and that sexual orientation "seems usually to lie outside the scope of an individual's will." But the statement also says that sexual activity under church teachings is allowed only in heterosexual marriage. The philosophy association's anti-bias policy specifically states that it is not acceptable for colleges to say that they welcome gay people, but only if they are celibate.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 - 3:00am

Illinois has indicted Michael Vernon Warren, the former director of publications and copy services at Chicago State University, charging him with a scheme in which the university overpaid for copy machines and paper purchased from a company he owned, The Chicago Tribune reported. State higher education regulations bar most purchases from businesses owned by university employees. Warren told the Tribune: "I know what I was asked to do, and I don't think I did anything that was improper."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 - 3:00am

Between 1995 and 2003, the median accumulated federal loans for doctorates increased from $14,927 to $44,743, according to a study in The Journal of Higher Education. The study examines the increase and various factors that contributed to it, and to some subsets of doctoral students seeing debt increase at faster levels than was the case for others.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010 - 3:00am

Kaplan University and the California Community Colleges system have entered into an arrangement that will allow students at the two-year institutions to take individual online courses through Kaplan at a steep discount to help them finish their associate degrees. Under the deal, which is designed in part to help students at the two-year colleges deal with reduced course availability because of budget cuts, Kaplan will offer individual courses at a 42 percent discount from what they would normally cost as part of a degree program. Students will receive textbooks and other instructional materials at no charge.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010 - 3:00am

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a complaint with Fresno City College, charging that a health instructor is giving religious instruction with an anti-gay bias, in violation of the separation of church and state, the Associated Press reported. The instructor could not be reached for comment and the college says only that it is investigating. The ACLU's letter says that the instructor, Bradley Lopez, regularly uses the Bible as a text on health issues, called homosexuality an illness for which recommended treatments include counseling and hormones, cited the Bible to explain why abortion should be viewed as murder, and told students that abortion is the leading cause of death in the United States.

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