Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, March 29, 2010 - 3:00am

What's it like being John Yoo, the one-time Bush administration official whose memos are widely seen as endorsing torture and who is now back teaching law (to the dismay of activists who want him ousted) at the University of California at Berkeley? He told the Los Angeles Times he relishes his role and isn't intimidated by the many at the university who want him gone, or who defend his right to be there while finding his ideas offensive. "I think of myself as being West Berlin during the Cold War, a shining beacon of capitalism and democracy surrounded by a sea of Marxism," Yoo told the Times. He said he views Berkeley as "a natural history museum of the 1960s," adding: "It's like looking at the panoramic displays of troglodytes sitting around the campfire with their clubs. Here, it's tie-dye and marijuana. It's just like the 1960s, with the Vietnam War still to protest."

Friday, March 26, 2010 - 3:00am

Tarleton State University has rebuffed critics demanding that it halt a student production of "Corpus Christi," a play in which Jesus is depicted as gay. But the Associated Press reported that the university is moving the performance time -- originally 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon -- to 8 a.m. Saturday. In addition, only invited guests and relatives of cast members will be permitted to attend.

Friday, March 26, 2010 - 3:00am

Francisco J. Ayala, an evolutionary geneticist and molecular biologist, has won the 2010 Templeton Prize. Ayala, the Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of California at Irvine, is known for research into parasitic protozoa, and his findings may lead to cures for malaria and other diseases. He has equated efforts to block religious intrusions into science with “the survival of rationality in this country.” The award "honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works."

Friday, March 26, 2010 - 3:00am

When it comes to cutting costs, every little bit helps. The University of Wisconsin at Green Bay has switched the default font on its e-mail from Arial to Century Gothic. The savings will be evident when students print, the Associated Press reported, because the new font uses 30 percent less ink than the old one did.

Friday, March 26, 2010 - 3:00am

A new study has found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, binge drinking the night before a major test may not affect performance. Scholars at Boston University and Brown University tested 193 university students, ages 21 to 24, from the Boston area. Volunteer participants received either regular beer or nonalcoholic beer. The morning after, participants were given the practice versions of the Graduate Record Examination, as well as a mock quiz on an academic lecture they attended the previous afternoon. The study found that participants scored no differently on the GREs, or on the quizzes, whether they had consumed alcoholic or nonalcoholic beer.

Friday, March 26, 2010 - 3:00am

After months of delay, Congress, in one intense day that included more partisan spats and parliamentary maneuvering, passed budget legislation that included a $40 billion-plus investment in colleges and their students. The Senate approved a measure that would both make a series of "fixes" to the health care legislation that President Obama signed into law Wednesday and revamp the federal student loan programs.

Friday, March 26, 2010 - 3:00am

There may be much debate over what SAT scores really signify, but new research suggests that they yield women a lot of money if they are willing to donate their eggs. The Boston Globe reported on a new study that found -- analyzing the ads in student newspapers -- that an increase of 100 points in a woman's score resulted in an average increase of $2,350 in offers to buy her eggs.

Friday, March 26, 2010 - 3:00am

The growth of diagnoses of learning disabilities is raising issues about fairness and some discomfort among faculty members, but these questions get too little attention, according to a report issued Thursday by the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. The report is a mix of national data along with a focus on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. And the report notes that while the growing diagnoses may in part relate to earlier detection, there has also been a growth in a testing industry that caters to wealthy families who want a diagnosis so their children can gain extra time on key tests. James Kessler, director of disability services at Chapel Hill, said that the report served a valuable purpose in bringing attention to these issues. But he said that, in addition to faculty members who worry about whether some students are taking advantage of a diagnosis, there are many professors who understand learning disabilities and see the enhanced services as helping students. "We have faculty who call us and say 'I have this young woman who in discussion gets the course, but on a test she doesn't. Can I send her over and see what's up?' "

Friday, March 26, 2010 - 3:00am

China has barred a literature professor at the Beijing Film Academy from traveling to the United States to attend meetings of the Association for Asian Studies, the Associated Press reported. Cui Weiping had a U.S. visa, but was blocked from leaving with no official reason given. She believes that she is being punished for Twitter posts expressing outrage at the jailing of a political activist, and her speaking out about the anniversary of the Tiananmen democracy protests.

Thursday, March 25, 2010 - 3:00am

The legislation that Congress passed last winter to stimulate the economy ratcheted up federal spending on research and development in the 2009 fiscal year, the National Science Foundation said in a report Wednesday. The NSF said that total federal R&D spending rose by 12.2 percent in 2009, to $157 billion from $140 billion in 2008. Virtually all of the increase came in non-defense spending, with most of the gain coming in health-related research and in general science research.

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