A committee at the University of Texas will study whether the university should maintain the name of a former Ku Klux Klan leader (who also served on the university's law faculty and in the Confederate military) on a residence hall, The Austin American-Statesman reported. Some on the campus have argued that keeping the name shows insensitivity to minority students.
Higher Education Quick Takes
New Jersey's student aid agency may have violated state ethics laws, misinterpreted executive orders on political contributions and other matters, and was governed by a board that was denied crucial information about its operations, according to a highly critical state audit released Tuesday. The state's inspector general's office said in its report on the audit that it had referred the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority to the state ethics commission for a possible inquiry into the "solicitation of a donation from a vendor of the authority by an employee."
Republicans in the House of Representatives on Wednesday once again rebuffed legislation (HR 5325) designed to strengthen federal support for academic research. For the second time in a week, an insufficient number of lawmakers voted in favor of legislation to renew the America COMPETES Act, the 2007 law that set out to double federal funding of the physical sciences. Republicans, who unanimously opposed the bill Wednesday, said they supported its goals but continued to believe it would authorize too much federal spending and create too many new programs. Democrats said that they were disappointed that the changes they had made in the legislation since last week were deemed insufficient, and that they would continue trying.
Faculty members at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire have voted, 233 to 87, to unionize. The vote follows one last week at the university's Superior campus. Both units will be affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.
The University of California is seeking $500 million in savings by consolidation and coordination of administrative functions such as purchasing, the Los Angeles Times reported. University leaders said that the changes would represent a cultural shift for a system where campus independence has been highly valued, but they stressed that the push to centralization was on non-academic issues.
Sen. Arlen Specter's defeat in Tuesday's Democratic primary in Pennsylvania will end a political career in which the senator was frequently a key ally of advocates for biomedical research and education. Specter, a Republican until last year, was for many years the ranking Republican on the Senate appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over spending on education programs and the National Institutes of Health -- and he backed spending increases in both areas, in particular for the NIH. Joe Sestak, who defeated Specter, doesn't differ from him significantly in views on those issues.
The Boston Globe explores the case of Adam Wheeler, the former Harvard University senior who used fraudulent materials to gain admission, to ask the question of whether admissions systems are too trusting. The article notes that many leading universities engage in relatively limited verifications of materials.
The officers and board of the American Historical Association on Tuesday issued a statement calling on the Texas State Board of Education to reconsider history standards that have been widely criticized for attempting to put a conservative spin on history by adding and subtracting certain people and ideas. The AHA statement said that the state's standards are inconsistent with national standards and with what Texas school children learn in the early grades. As but one example, the historians said that the Texas standards are "almost entirely discounting the importance of human activity in North America before the British colonization of the Atlantic Coast." Offering a comparison to science, the AHA statement said that "no curriculum in chemistry would be of much value to students if it made arbitrary selections and deletions among the elements to be studied; if the focus were to be on oxygen with hydrogen omitted, then students would be at a considerable disadvantage when it came to understanding water."
A coalition of academic associations issued a joint statement Tuesday condemning Arizona's new immigration laws. The policy "threatens to inflame anti-immigrant sentiments and undermine constructive solutions to the challenges faced by communities in Arizona and across the nation. We call upon the governor, legislators, and people of Arizona to work diligently and swiftly to repeal these laws," says the statement. "Our organizations include members from fields including sociology, criminology, political science, peace studies, psychology, anthropology, environmental studies, Chicano/a studies, and a multitude of related areas of study. Our collective membership numbers more than 10,000 scholars, educators, and activists, with many residing in Arizona. The decision to join together in issuing the open letter below represents an unprecedented and historical moment of collaboration."
The groups endorsing the letter are: the American Studies Association; the Chicano/Latino Faculty and Staff Association of Arizona State University; the Justice Studies Association; Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social; National Association for Chicano and Chicana Studies; Native American and Indigenous Studies Association; Peace and Justice Studies Association; Psychologists for Social Responsibility; Society for the Study of Social Problems; and Sociologists Without Borders.
Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, this week nationalized Santa Inés University, a private institution, boasting to students that tuition would now be free, the Dow Jones News Service reported. Many students aren't pleased in the least. Carlos Chavez, a student leader who is not related to his president, said, "He's going to impose his revolutionary, Marxist, socialist agenda on us students, and he'll kick out good professors who allow us to study capitalism."