Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 28, 2011

The University of Georgia has found that Paul Roman, a sociologist at the university, violated anti-harassment policies, and ordered him to abide by specific rules, The Athens Banner-Herald reported. The university found that Roman made many comments of a sexual nature that made women uncomfortable in his presence, and that he retaliated against a female employee who filed a complaint against him. Roman has been ordered to hold meetings with staff members only when scheduled and with an agenda distributed in advance, barred from sending employees e-mail messages that are not strictly professional in nature, and barred from making personnel decisions on his own about employees he supervises. Roman has denied the charges, and appealed the findings, but his appeal was denied by the university's president.

Roman's title is Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology, and this year he was also named a Regents Professor, which is one of the University System of Georgia’s highest honors, and which came with a $10,000 raise.

November 28, 2011

An Illinois appeals court last week granted a stay to the University of Illinois at Chicago of the certification of a new faculty union at the institution. The university is challenging the right of the union -- which is affiliated with both the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors -- to represent both adjuncts and tenure-track faculty members. In October, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board rejected the university's argument and certified the union, but the university appealed and also asked for both a stay of union certification and expedited review of the case. University officials said that they expected a ruling on the case in the spring.

November 28, 2011

As of Friday, the Occupy movement was no longer occupying any space at the New School. For a week prior, Occupy supporters from the New School and other colleges were protesting (and sometimes sleeping) in a study center at one New School facility. University officials said that the landlord to the building (which is not owned by the New School) was concerned about the students sleeping there, and that New York City Fire Department officials said that the occupation was producing a fire hazard. Blogs also started to detail the spraying of graffiti in the study center (which in what may be an irony was created in response to the demands of a student protest a year ago about inadequate study space). The New School then told the Occupy movement supporters that they had to leave the study center, but that they could occupy an art gallery of the New School, and could stay there 24 hours a day through the end of the semester -- provided that only students were admitted to the gallery (although the students need not be New School students) and that people not sleep there. By Friday, the study center was empty; workers are cleaning and painting it so it can open on Monday. The initial move to the art gallery did not go according to the New School's plans, as some protesters slept there and others used the wall for graffiti. So the protesters were asked to leave and the New School is cleaning and repainting and planning to turn the gallery over to the Occupy protesters on Monday, provided that the terms are followed.

The movement, now dispersed, has not issued any statements on its departure from the protest spaces. New School officials said that everyone eventually left without police intervention or arrests. A statement on the blog kept during the occupation of the study center said that those there were concerned that "the pigs of the NYPD are preparing to attack our space," and also criticized the New School. "New School administration, despite their mealy-mouthed lip service to the movement, has decided to side with the banks, landlords, millionaire university trustees, and whining conservative students who are all clamoring for this break in the miserable daily routine to end," the blog post said.

November 28, 2011

Amid all the discussion of students with too much student loan debt, the Associated Press has run a story on the opposite problem: students who don't borrow enough. The article talks about students determined not to take out loans -- and the sorts of compromises they make (not buying textbooks, taking more credits that may be wise in a given semester) and the concerns of many educators that such students may be at risk of not finishing their degrees.

 

November 28, 2011

The U.S. Justice Department has sued the University of Nebraska at Kearney, charging that it illegally denied a student with a psychological disability the right to have an "emotional assistance dog" live in a residence hall room. The suit, which follows allegations brought last month by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, charges that the university asks too much information of students with emotional or psychological or emotional disabilities and -- in the case of the request for the dog -- was too stringent in barring the animal from a dormitory. A university spokesman said he couldn't comment on the case except to say that the university will contest the suit. The Associated Press quoted an e-mail message from the university's compliance director for the Americans With Disabilities Act (cited in the suit), that says that if the student's request had been granted, "in essence, anyone can have their doctor say they are anxious and need to have their cat, dog, snake or monkey."

 

November 23, 2011

Karen Pletz, former president of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, was found dead early Tuesday in Florida, The Kansas City Star reported. The cause of death has not been released, but there were no signs of foul play. Pletz was a widely respected civic leader in Kansas City credited with promoting growth at the university. Her firing in 2009 stunned her many supporters. Last year, a federal grand jury indicted her on charges that she had embezzled more than $1.5 million from the university, engaged in money laundering, and falsified tax returns. She had denied wrongdoing.

November 23, 2011

Newt Gingrich, who is experiencing a surge in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination, said Monday that -- as president -- he would teach a free online course, NBC reported. He said that the course would be distributed in a manner similar to the online offerings of Kaplan or the University of Phoenix. The subject matter would be his policies. Gingrich holds a Ph.D. in history.

November 23, 2011

Twenty current or former students of a wealthy Long Island high school have now been charged in an SAT cheating scandal, the Associated Press reported. Thirteen of the charges were filed by the local district attorney on Tuesday. Some of those charged allegedly paid others to take the SAT on their behalf. Prosecutors said that they believed that 40 students and former students were involved, but that the statute of limitations prevented charges from being brought against all of them.

November 23, 2011

Three American students studying abroad at the American University in Cairo were arrested Monday while participating in a protest near Tahrir Square.

Luke Gates, 21, from Bloomington, Ind., and an Indiana University student; Derrik Sweeney, 20, from Jefferson City, Miss., and a Georgetown University student; and Gregory Porter, 19, from Glenside, Pa., and a Drexel University student, were all arrested on suspicion of throwing Molotov cocktails, said Morgan Roth, the university’s director of communication for North America. Roth said it is too early to assess the accusations against the students, and she does not know if the students were targeted or rounded up in a large group.

Roth said she does not know if the three students have been formally charged by the Egyptian authorities, but they are currently being detained at a courthouse facility. All three of the students were enrolled at AUC for the semester.  Gates and Porter are taking general studies classes, and Sweeney is enrolled in the Arabic language institute, Roth said.

Roth said the university has contacted the American Embassy to help administrators monitor the students’ whereabouts and well-being. Roth said the university is in fact-finding mode currently, and could not say if the students will remain in Cairo when they are released. She said the university frequently sends messages to the university community to alert them of any potential danger or violence.  “We take the temperature all the time,” she said. “We don’t want our students who are not from Cairo and haven’t learned its rhythms to get caught up.”

 

 

November 23, 2011

The number of college faculty members and administrators edged up by 2.6 percent in 2010, to nearly 3.9 million, with growth coming disproportionately at for-profit colleges and among part-time workers, according to a federal report Tuesday. The annual report examines staffing levels and salaries at postsecondary institutions that qualify to award federal financial aid, and the key findings of this year's report generally continue the trends of recent years. Of the roughly 100,000 gain in total employees employed by the colleges in 2010 over 2009, about 50,000 of them work part time (though part-time employees make up slightly more than a third of all postsecondary employees), and for-profit colleges added about 40,000 workers. The proportion of full-time faculty members who have tenure or are on the tenure track slipped by a full percentage point, to 62.7 percent from 63.7 in 2009.

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