Eight Native American students on Thursday sued the University of North Dakota and state officials over a new state law requiring the institution to maintain its "Fighting Sioux" name for athletic teams, The Bismarck Tribune reported. The university defended the name -- opposed by many Native Americans and the National Collegiate Athletic Association -- for years, but was on the verge of ending the name's use when legislators intervened. The lawsuit charges that the state is violating the students' rights by interfering in a decision that should not be made by political leaders. Further, the suit charges that the use of the name is harmful to Native American students.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Cooking is the leading cause of university housing fires, accounting for 88 percent of them, according to an analysis released Thursday by the U.S. Fire Administration. An average of 3,800 university housing fires occur each year, causing 25 injuries and $9 million in damage on average annually.
Academic institutions produced more startup companies as they commercialized their researchers' work in 2010 than they did in 2009, although some other forms of licensing activity decreased slightly, according to the preliminary results of an annual survey of the Association of University Technology Managers. The number of new U.S. patent applications filed by the institutions in the AUTM survey soared to 12,281 in in 2010, from 8,364 in 2009; the number of patents issued also rose, and licensed technologies and inventions at the surveyed institutions produced 651 startup companies in 2010, up from 596 in 2009. But the number of commercial products created stayed flat (657 vs. 658 in 2009) and the number of licenses executed dipped.
The American Association of University Professors has written to the University of Virginia to urge it to more forcefully resist requests for certain e-mail and other records from professors involved in the study of climate change, and from other scientists. While the university has resisted some requests, its recent agreement to one such inquiry has the AAUP concerned that professors' privacy and right to engage in controversial research is being damaged. A university spokeswoman said that the institution would respond to the AAUP, but has not done so yet.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded a $600,000 grant to Indiana University and the University of Michigan to develop an infrastructure for facilitating research involving the digitized works held in the HathiTrust Digital Library, according to an Indiana press release. The goal will be to develop reliable ways for scholars to analyze huge swaths of text in the HathiTrust's holdings using computer algorithms. Google has already opened up its own vault of digitized works to computational analysis by scholars, even coining the term "culturenomics" to describe research that applies quantitative analysis to digitized literature. The HathiTrust, a consortium of more than 50 universities, does not have as many works in its digital vault as Google Books, but has taken steps to emulate that project in hope of building a more academe-oriented alternative.
Hundreds of Chicago State University students received state financial aid even though they lacked the grades needed to remain enrolled, The Chicago Tribune reported. The Tribune reported last month about Chicago State failing to enforce its rules about suspending those who fail to meet minimal grade requirements, but the information about state financial aid emerged Wednesday at a state hearing.
Executives of Spencerian College, a for-profit institution among several being investigated by Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat, have not only been donating money to his Republican opponent, but have been urging employees to back the Republican, Todd P'Pool, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. One former admissions officer described a session in which employees were asked to raise their hands to indicate that they would donate to P'Pool. Under Kentucky law, it is a felony for an employer to "coerce or direct any employee to vote for any political party or candidate." Grover Potts Jr., a lawyer for the Sullivan University System, of which Spencerian is a part, said that officials may have recommended votes for P'Pool, but that nothing was coercive.