Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, September 21, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of Maryland University College is spinning its Office of Analytics off to become HelioCampus, a company that will provide data analytics services to colleges that may not have those capabilities internally. UMUC has used data analytics to manage its massive student body, which last year totaled more than 84,000. The University System of Maryland Board of Regents approved the plan on Friday.

Monday, September 21, 2015 - 3:00am

Every year, just before the real Nobel Prizes are announced, the Ig Nobels are announced in a spoof of the more famous awards. This year's Ig Nobel winners include researchers who studied how to partially unboil an egg, timed the bladder elimination duration of mammals, determined that every language has an equivalent of "huh?" and determined the body parts on which it most painful to be stung (nostril, upper lip and penis shaft).

The real Nobels will be announced early next month.

Monday, September 21, 2015 - 3:00am

A state judge in Pennsylvania last week ruled that Northampton Community College must readmit a student it kicked out for declining to take a drug test, The Morning Call reported. The college kicked out the nursing student after he refused, at a meeting to discuss his failing performance in a course, to take a drug test. The student challenged his grade in the course and the mandatory drug test. The judge ruled that there was no reason to presume that the student was on drugs, so he is entitled to take the course again. However, the judge also ruled that the college was within its rights in the grades assigned in that course.

Monday, September 21, 2015 - 3:00am

Harvard University's Medical School is part of a movement among medical schools to shift the curriculum toward a "flipped classroom" model. The Boston Globe reported that classes have been redesigned so that with videos and other materials, students can memorize key facts on their own, while class time is used not for lecture, but for group activities and professor-led discussions that build on the knowledge memorized.

Monday, September 21, 2015 - 3:00am

Lady Gaga has released a new music video for her song, "Til It Happens to You." The video depicts assaults and their impacts on the assaulted. The song was previously featured in the "Hunting Ground," a documentary about campus sexual assault.

Monday, September 21, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Heather O’Connell, a postdoc at Rice University’s Kinder Institute, examines the effects of slavery we can still observe today. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, September 18, 2015 - 4:22am

A Pennsylvania judge has granted an injunction to block the State System of Higher Education from starting background checks on all faculty members, Lancaster Online reported. The faculty union challenged a new policy to conduct background checks on all faculty members as a policy that must go through collective bargaining, and the injunction will allow time for a state labor board to review that challenge. The union says that it does not object to background checks as required by state law for some faculty members, such as those who work with children on a regular basis. But the union says that just because there are people younger than 18 on most campuses -- as the state system has noted -- that does not mean all professors should be covered by the background check policy.

Friday, September 18, 2015 - 4:19am

The University of California Board of Regents on Thursday declined to adopt a new policy on intolerance and instead formed a working group to study the issue. Some pro-Israel groups have been urging the board to take a stronger stand against intolerance, making the argument that there is growing anti-Semitism on UC campuses. But others have said that some of what the pro-Israel groups want -- particularly making demonization of Israel a form of intolerance under university policy -- would squelch free speech.

Friday, September 18, 2015 - 3:00am

A professor of history at Arizona State University who’s been accused of plagiarism multiple times was placed on administrative leave this week as the university looks into new allegations of misconduct, The Arizona Republic reported. While previous allegations against Matthew Whitaker involve his published research, the most recent complaint involves Whitacker’s extracurricular consulting business.

Last month, the city of Phoenix demanded a refund of the $21,900 it had already paid the Whitaker Group to develop cultural consciousness training material for its police force, according to The Republic. The city said more than half of some 80 slides Whitaker produced were ripped from the Chicago Police Department, with minor, if any, changes. Lonnie J. Williams Jr., Whitaker’s attorney, said he questioned why the university would investigate a matter in which it’s not involved, and that Whitaker had been up front about his intention to borrow the Chicago material.

Mark Johnson, a university spokesman, said the institution is reviewing claims that Whitacker’s behavior fell short of that expected of a professor and scholar. Phoenix’s $268,800 contract with Whitaker reportedly came under scrutiny earlier this summer, after the professor was demoted to associate professor following a second plagiarism charge in four years, regarding his book, Peace Be Still: Modern Black America From World War II to Barack Obama.


Friday, September 18, 2015 - 4:26am

The board of the College of DuPage voted 4 to 3 Thursday night to void the contract of President Robert Breuder, The Chicago Tribune reported. Breuder is currently on leave from his position, and the vote could clear the way for the board to dismiss him and also to ignore a deal it made to pay Breuder $763,000 to retire in March 2016, ahead of the end of his contract. Breuder and the contract have received considerable criticism for his spending decisions, and for previous board members' support for him. The board members who backed the action Thursday said that they were acting because previous board members inappropriately pledged that they would support the president in certain ways, such as through his contract provisions. But other board members said that the previous contract -- however much they might disagree with it -- couldn't simply be voided, and that the college now faced the risk of being sued.

The board also voted Thursday night to remove Breuder's name from a college building.


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