Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010 - 3:00am

British authorities have found that the former registrar of the University of Surrey and of the University of Bath offered African women fake degrees if they would let him spank them, The Times of London reported. He claimed that he was seeking their assistance with a "pain management" study, but that was not the case. Karl Woodgett, the former registrar, pleaded guilty to charges of making false instruments (the university degrees) and of possessing items used for fraud.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 - 3:00am

In theory, "Argyle," the new sculpture installed at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, is about fabric and textiles. But many on the campus see something phallic in the 10-foot work of art. See this photograph from The Tuscaloosa News and judge for yourself.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 - 3:00am

The College of William and Mary is preparing to phase out a policy that granted automatic raises of 8 and 7 percent to faculty members in their last two years before retirement, The Virginia Gazette reported. The policy -- in which these professors are removed from the merit review process for raises -- was designed as an early retirement incentive. But officials said that they reviewed the process out of concern that the system limited funds available for raises for others.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 - 3:00am

Vanderbilt University on Monday issued a statement that suggested it has only limited ties to its Muslim chaplain, Awadh A. Binhazim, whose comments at a campus forum -- videotaped and since posted on many Web sites -- have led to considerable criticism. Asked about Muslim teachings that have been used to justify executing gay people, Binhazim says that he accepts such teachings. Vanderbilt's statement said that there "has been some confusion as to Binhazim's role at Vanderbilt. He is the Muslim chaplain at Vanderbilt, a volunteer position. He is not a professor of Islam and is not associated with Vanderbilt University Divinity School. He has adjunct associate professor status at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in pathology. This position, which carries no teaching or research responsibilities, is also unpaid." The university didn't comment directly on his comments, but said that no view in the forum "should be construed as being endorsed by Vanderbilt. The university is dedicated to the free exchange of ideas. It is the belief of the university community that free discussion of ideas can lead to resolution and reconciliation."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 - 3:00am

Edward Waters College, in Florida, has imposed new confidentiality requirements on just about everything that takes place on the private college's campus, with possible fines of $5,000 a day for violations, The Jacksonville News reported. Former employees are also covered by the new requirements. Michael Freed, Edward Waters' general counsel, said: "The sad reality is that sometimes a former employee has a burning desire to embarrass their former employer, and that can harm everyone involved."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 - 3:00am

La Sierra University's Faculty Senate has unanimously adopted a resolution defending the biology department at the Seventh-day Adventist university, which is being criticized by some for teaching evolution. The text of the resolution appears in The Adventist. The resolution notes that "certain off-campus persons" have tried "to dictate" the contents of the science curriculum. The resolution says that the faculty leaders affirm "our commitment to the preservation of academic freedom with intellectual and moral integrity in the context of our heritage, and service as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian University."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 - 3:00am

The new career path for athletics director of big-time programs is in the business world, not college sports, The New York Times reported. The article examines a string of hires -- most recently the new director of the University of Michigan's sports program, who is moving there from being chief executive of Domino's Pizza -- that reflect the shift.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 - 3:00am

A panel commissioned by Emerson College issued a highly critical report about race at the institution -- while also not finding overt bias against black faculty members, The Boston Globe reported. "There are to be found at Emerson unexamined and powerful assumptions and biases about the superiority, preferability, and normativeness of European-American culture, intellectual pursuits, academic discourse, leadership, and so on," the report said. The biases result in "disproportionate undervaluing of African Americans and the disproportionate overvaluing of European Americans," it added. The report was commissioned amid complaints that only four of Emerson's 117 tenured and tenure-track faculty are black. Of the three who are tenured, two were promoted only after they sued.

Monday, February 1, 2010 - 3:00am

Continuing our coverage of chickens in higher education, we turn to KABC-TV in California, which reports on a lone chicken that has become friendly with many students at Glendale Community College, and has been roaming the campus for months. While the fowl is friendly with students who feed it and television reporters who film it, it is speedy enough that it has evaded capture by animal control officials.

Monday, February 1, 2010 - 3:00am

In the latest twist of a curious legal case involving allegations of identity theft, cyber-bullying, and two-millennia-old religious artifacts, a well-known University of Chicago professor has been implicated in a complex, Internet-based scheme to smear opponents of his work. Norman Golb, a professor of Jewish history and civilization at Chicago, has been mostly a sideline figure since his son, Raphael, was arrested last March after allegedly creating dozens of Web aliases and using them to harass and discredit scholars who disagree with his father’s theories about the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls. But new court documents point to evidence suggesting that Norman Golb, his wife, Ruth, and their other son, Joel, were aware of the alias-based campaign and may have assisted in carrying it out. Raphael Golb stands accused of harassing various scholars who do not believe that the Dead Sea Scrolls originated in Jerusalem — a theory Norman Golb advocated in a 1995 book. The new documents, released last month, purport to show transcripts of e-mails exchanges among members of the Golb family indicating coordinated efforts to advance Norman Golb’s theories though Web aliases. They also include sharp criticisms of Schiffman, which the prosecution is trying to use as evidence of motive and intent for the identity theft — the only felony charge against Raphael Golb. The evidence was released to the court after the defense moved to suppress it. Norman Golb could not be reached for comment.

Raphael Golb’s attorneys are arguing that the e-mails are immaterial to the case since they do not contain any of the threats, obscenity, or “fighting words” that would constitute harassment. If the state had a compelling interest in limiting criticism, they wrote in a court memo, all of New York’s editorial writers would be in prison.

Norman Golb, meanwhile, said in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed that he is not privy to his sons' e-mail correspondence and is “certainly unaware of any ‘smear campaign’ in the various articles about the Scrolls controversy attributed to Raphael.” He added: “It is unfortunate that my critics resort to attacking members of my family rather than engaging with me in scholarly debate on the merits.”

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