Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 26, 2012

The Occupy movement is back at the University of California at Davis, but without the tents that led to the infamous pepper spray confrontation last semester, The Sacramento Bee reported. Students this week occupied an unoccupied building on campus (the facility is being readied to hold different offices and so has been vacant) and have vowed to stay there. A university spokeswoman said that the institution was monitoring the situation.

January 26, 2012

Faculty members at the University of Oregon are announcing a drive to seek union representation in a chapter that would be affiliated jointly with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors. The AFT and the AAUP have been pushing together to unionize public research university campuses -- a sector within higher education that has seen proportionally fewer faculty unions than other parts of public higher education. Oregon is a "card check" state, meaning that if half of the eligible faculty members sign a card seeking a union, there would not need to be a vote. An Oregon spokesman said via e-mail that the university's leaders "support the right of workers to organize and have maintained neutrality on the issue of a faculty union. The university seeks to simply provide factual information to assist those affected by the effort to make informed decisions."

January 26, 2012

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey proposed Wednesday that the Rutgers University Camden campus be merged with Rowan University, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The proposal is part of a broader higher education reform plan that would try to redefine and rename the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The governor says that the Camden-Rowan plan would create a better higher education presence in the southern part of the state. But opposition is already emerging to that part of the plan. The faculty union at Rutgers issued a statement questioning the merger, and saying that its members at Camden want to be part of a research university. While Rutgers and Rowan should cooperate more, the union says, their missions are sufficiently distinct that a merger is inappropriate.

January 26, 2012

Many Muslim students at Ohio State University are furious at The Lantern, the student newspaper there, for running an ad they view as anti-Muslim, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The ad lists terror suspects under the headline "Former Leaders of the Muslim Student Association (MSA): Where Are They Now?" The ad also promotes a booklet called "Muslim Hate Groups on Campus." That booklet is published by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which also bought the ad. The center is led by the conservative activist who has been at the center of many campus disputes. He told the Dispatch that the Lantern was among the first publications to which he sent the ad, and that he was pleased with the debate.

January 25, 2012

An influential New York State senator has introduced legislation to create new felony charges of "facilitation of education testing fraud" and "scheming to defraud educational testing," as well as a new misdemeanor charge of "forgery of a test," the Associated Press reported. While authorities have brought charges against students accused of paying others to take the SAT for them in Long Island, Senator Kenneth LaValle said Tuesday that more tools were needed to combat cheating. LaValle was the prime sponsor of testing legislation in the past that spread to other states, and he said that he hopes New York State will again play that role.

 

January 25, 2012

Israel's Higher Education Council has ordered all universities to turn over information about people without bachelor's degrees who have been admitted to graduate programs that require (at least in theory) completion of a bachelor's degree, Haaretz reported. The move follows a report in Haaretz that an anchorman-turned-politician, who lacks a bachelor's degree, was admitted to a graduate program at Bar-Ilan University.

January 25, 2012

By a vote of 128-58, members of the Faculty Senate at Pennsylvania State University voted down a proposal Tuesday to express no confidence in the trustees of the university, StateCollege.com reported. Many of those who spoke against the motion did so despite frustrations over the way the university's leaders have handled the sex abuse scandal. Jean Landa Pytel, a former Faculty Senate chair, said that it was important for faculty leaders to act in a "meaningful, constructive manner." She said that the vote would have been "seeking revenge for actions which we may not agree with as individuals," and that trustees are already aware of the way professors feel.

 

January 25, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, David Mullin of Tulane University discusses his work using bacteria to convert old newspaper into biofuel. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

January 25, 2012

Authorities in Tunisia on Tuesday broke up a sit-in that started in November to protest the policy of the University of Manouba banning the niqab, or the full face veil worn by some observant Muslim women, AFP reported. University officials said that they asked for police help to have the protesters -- many of whom are not students at the university -- removed. The university has said that there are security issues in having students enroll when they can't be seen at all because of the niqab.

 

January 25, 2012

Government programs aimed at encouraging more students to complete degrees in science, mathematics, education or technology should be better coordinated across agencies, a report issued Friday by the Government Accountability Office recommended. The report, undertaken after a request from the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, found that the 209 STEM programs across 13 agencies frequently overlap but that fewer than half of those programs coordinate with similar efforts. Just because programs overlap doesn't mean they are redundant, the GAO wrote in its report. Still, the office recommended that the Office of Science and Technology Policy create a strategy and plan for STEM programs, including how the programs should share information across agencies, and evaluate the programs based on their outcomes. 

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