Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, January 21, 2016 - 3:00am

The associate professor of history at Kent State University who made headlines in 2011 for shouting “Death to Israel!” at a campus event is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for possible ties to ISIS, ABC News reported. News of the investigation into Julio Pino was first broken by Kent State’s student newspaper, KentWired, according to ABC.

Emily Miller, a student editor, said the FBI questioned her about Pino because she has interviewed him for news articles in recent months. “A joint terrorism task force has been investigating Pino for the last year and a half, said an FBI special agent who did not wish to be named for safety reasons,” Miller wrote in KentWired. “The agent said they interviewed several faculty members and more than 20 of Pino’s students Tuesday about his alleged involvement. He is also being investigated for allegedly recruiting students to join ISIS.”

Pino denied the allegations against him in an email to Inside Higher Ed, saying, "My only commitment is to serve my students as guided by the light of knowledge. I have no ties to any political organization, nor do I recruit for any cause." A university spokesperson confirmed that he is still teaching at this time. Kent State said in a statement that it is cooperating with an ongoing investigation, and said the FBI had assured it there was no threat to the campus.

In a separate campuswide email, President Beverly Warren said it would be “imprudent” to speak further about an ongoing investigation, but the university continues to find Pino’s past comments “reprehensible and counter to our core values of civil discourse and respect.” Pino gained notoriety after the 2011 incident, which took place during a public lecture on campus by Ishmael Khaldi, an Israeli former diplomat. Many colleagues criticized him at the time, saying both his statement and his attempt to disrupt an invited speaker were outside the bounds of scholarly debate.

Thursday, January 21, 2016 - 3:00am

Tenure-line and adjunct faculty members at the University of Minnesota at Twin Cities will soon file cards with the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services asking to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union, they announced this week. The filing is the first of its kind for SEIU, in that both tenure-line and non-tenure-track faculty members -- full-time and part-time -- would be part of the same bargaining unit; up until now SEIU has mostly focused on organizing adjuncts. Teri Caraway, an associate professor of political science, said in a statement that faculty members “want to work with the administration as equal partners to help them resist the pressures that divert resources from our classrooms and labs. We are not forming a union in search of a bigger paycheck, but because our working conditions have deteriorated as resources for teaching and research have dwindled and the proportion of tenured positions has declined.”

Kathryn Brown, Minnesota’s vice president for human relations, said the via email that the "university wants to continue working directly with faculty on governance and terms and conditions of employment. We believe the current governance structure gives faculty a strong voice and it will continue to be effective in the future."

Thursday, January 21, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Ann Bowers, associate professor of strategic management at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, explores how the story attached to a diamond may move the price. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - 4:17am

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for killing at least 19 people at Bacha Khan University, in Pakistan, The New York Times reported. Among the dead are two female students, a senior faculty member and four guards. Gunmen reportedly scaled walls that surround the university and started opening fire.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - 3:00am

Two Boston music colleges -- the Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory -- on Tuesday announced plans to merge. The combined institution will be known as Berklee and the conservatory will be called the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Eight conservatory trustees will join the board of the combined institution, which will then have 43 board members. While both colleges are music schools, they have different academic and performing strengths, which officials say will create more opportunities for students. The conservatory is known for classical music, opera and dance. Berklee is known for programs in contemporary music, technology, the music business, music therapy, sound design, production, film and online education.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - 3:00am

A former research scientist at the University of California at San Diego and his corporation admitted to illegally obtaining millions of dollars in government grants and contracts, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

Homayoun Karimabadi, who was a research scientist at UCSD, entered into an agreement with the government on Jan. 7 to settle the charges that he and his company, SciberQuest, engaged in felony wire fraud. Among other conditions, he and SciberQuest will jointly forfeit $180,000. The corporation, which entered a guilty plea, will face an additional fine at sentencing.

In award proposals submitted to NASA and the United States Air Force, Karimabadi wrote that he was primarily employed by SciberQuest -- but in reality, he was employed full time by UCSD. He provided the false information in order to fraudulently obtain Small Business Innovation Research grants, prosecutors said. That money contributed to the over $1.9 million in salary Karimabadi received from SciberQuest between 2005 and 2013.

Karimabadi also failed to disclose all of his and SciberQuest’s current and pending grants and contracts, overstating the time he could commit to the projects he applied for. In one proposal to the National Science Foundation, Karimabadi left out 10 current and five pending grants, claiming he had only committed to three months of work per year. In reality, he had committed over 19 months of work per year to various agencies.

Note: This story has been updated to correct Homayoun Karimabadi's former title at the University of California San Diego.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - 3:00am

A 19-year-old Arizona State University student from China was shot and killed Saturday following a minor traffic accident, the Arizona Republic reported. Tempe police said Yue Jiang was shot by the driver of the car that rear-ended hers.

Jiang, a sophomore from China’s Chongqing Province, came to Arizona State to study English in 2014 before enrolling in the university’s business school to study finance, according to a statement from Mark Searle, Arizona State’s executive vice president and provost. Searle described the shooting as “a senseless act of violence.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - 3:00am

The U.S. is still the world’s leading science and engineering enterprise, but China is quickly closing that gap, according to a the National Science Board’s 2016 Science and Engineering Indicators report. China accounts for 20 percent of global research and development, while the U.S. accounts for 27 percent, but China’s investment in science and engineering grew 19 percent annually on average from 2003-13, greatly outpacing U.S. investment.

The U.S. invests the most in research and development, produces the most advanced degrees in science and engineering and high-impact scientific publications, and remains the largest provider of information, financial and business services, according to the report. But Southeast, South and East Asia continue to grow in terms of science and engineering, accounting for 40 percent of global investment, according to the report.

Indicators also notes that China has made significant progress in science and engineering education. It’s the world’s top producer of undergraduates with degrees in science and engineering, accounting for 49 percent of all bachelor's degrees awarded there. That’s compared to 33 percent of all bachelor's degrees awarded in the U.S. University degree production has grown most rapidly in China in recent years -- more than 300 percent from 2000-12. But the U.S. continues to award the largest number of science and engineering doctorates and remains a destination for international students, according to the report.

“Other countries see how U.S. investments in [research and development] and higher education have paid off for our country and are working intensively to build their own scientific capabilities,” Dan Arvizu, the science board’s chair, said in a statement. “They understand that scientific discovery and human capital fuel knowledge- and technology-intensive industries and a nation's economic health.”

Despite ongoing challenges with federal investment in research and development, Americans have favorable views toward science, according to the report. At the same time, they are losing faith in U.S. K-12 STEM education, compared to other nations.

About half of Americans say science makes life “change too fast,” and the country remains divided on global warming. Still a majority of Americans say they want more focus on alternative energy development.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - 3:00am

The Warrior-Scholar Program hosts academic boot camps for veterans of the U.S. military to help them make the transition to college. Teams of student veterans run the two-week sessions, which are taught by university professors and graduate students.

The program started at Yale University four years ago. It now has expanded to 12 universities, having added the University of Arizona for this year's summer sessions. More than 200 veterans are slated to participate this year. The host institutions are: the Universities of Arizona, Chicago, Michigan, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Oklahoma and Southern California; and Cornell, Georgetown, Harvard, Syracuse and Yale Universities; and Vassar College.

"Post-9/11 veterans have an immense degree of untapped potential to succeed in higher education institutions and to progress on to successful careers. Yet college can be a significant challenge, even when the GI Bill and other sources of funding are helping pay tuition," said Sidney Ellington, the program's executive director, in a written statement. "To tap that potential and reduce obstacles to success, our boot camps address veterans’ misperceptions about college and build their confidence through an intense academic reorientation."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - 3:00am

Faculty members at Pennsylvania’s 14 state universities teaching introductory, 100-level courses must complete criminal background and child abuse clearance checks, according to a state court. The decision reverses -- in part -- a suspension of such checks imposed in September, after the Association of Pennsylvania State College and Universities Faculties challenged the State System of Higher Education’s new policy requiring all faculty members to complete them. That policy resulted from a change in state law, which was later amended to apply to only educators teaching minors. But the university system sought to keep the broader background check policy applying to all faculty members it already had adopted. The faculty union was successful in part, Penn Live reported, in that the recent decision says faculty members teaching upper-level courses, in which legal minors are less likely to be enrolled, do not have to submit to such checks. The policy can’t be applied universally until an arbiter or the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (or both) decide whether the university system has the managerial right to impose the requirement, according to Penn Live. The faculty union responded by asking the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to reconsider the lower court's decision. 


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