Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 22, 2018

In a new report to members of the American Historical Association, Mary Beth Norton, AHA president, Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow at Cornell University, pledged action on sexual harassment -- including developing a procedure that could expel offenders from AHA events. While the association “has long been on record as decrying sexual harassment in employment,” Norton said, that “statement clearly needs expanding and updating.”

Norton said leaders within the association have been discussing the matter since the fall and recently decided to survey members about their experiences with harassment at past conventions. The association also held a session on harassment within the field at its annual meeting in January, during which members requested that AHA develop “best practices” to guide historians and their employers. It has therefore become clear, Norton said, that “rather than one statement, the AHA needed to adopt several: one on sexual harassment, setting forth principles and complaint procedures for our conventions and other meetings we organized, and others on such topics as hiring and mentoring, outlining principles and best practices in contexts over which we have no direct control.”

Members of AHA’s governing council have agreed on the basic outlines of a new procedure to promote appropriate behavior at association events, Norton said, and attendees should be required to consent to related guidelines during registration. An ombuds team also has been created to receive complaints about harassment at meetings. Possible sanctions against offenders include expulsion from the event. The statements and new procedure for addressing harassment will be drafted by an AHA Council committee. “We anticipate approval by the Council in June and full implementation at the 2019 AHA annual meeting in Chicago,” Norton said. 

February 22, 2018

The National Science Foundation is closing its three overseas offices, which are located in Beijing, Brussels and Tokyo, in favor of what the agency described as a new model of international engagement that “will deploy NSF experts for short-term expeditions to selected areas to explore opportunities for collaboration.”

“We seek to improve cooperation by increasing outreach to our foreign counterparts instead of relying on a small number of static offices with a limited number of employees,” Rebecca Keiser, the head of NSF’s Office of International Science & Engineering, said in a statement. “The resources for this revised approach will be gained from the closure of our three overseas offices. The closures will take place by summer 2018.”

February 22, 2018

Carlo Montemagno, the new chancellor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, has been accused of nepotism, as he secured jobs for his daughter and son-in-law -- based on a verbal agreement he made with the board -- before he was hired in July. Amid this controversy, he acknowledged that he used some of the moving funds he was provided to pay for his daughter's moving expenses. But on Wednesday he announced was repaying those funds, the Chicago Tribune reported. Ethics investigations are ongoing about his hiring of his relatives.


February 22, 2018

Known for his grimly humorous depictions of graduate student life in Lego blocks, and, of late, more politically charged messages, the social media figure Lego Grad Student was uncharacteristically joyful Wednesday in sharing that he’d accepted an assistant professorship (or at least his anonymous human creator had).

Lego Grad Student, who studied the social sciences at a large university on the West Coast, spent two years on the job market -- and just about as long making people laugh and cringe online. He debuted his Lego portraits in mid-2016 and quickly developed a major following: some 40,700 fans on Twitter alone.

Lego Grad Student’s creator said Wednesday that some in his new department know about his “other identity,” since several graduate students and professors mentioned it when he was visiting. Still, he said, he’d like to remain “semi-anonymous.” 

Asked about what his success communicates, Lego Grad Student said that he hopes it “provides some inspiration or hope to others.” But after going on the job market twice, he said, “I've also come to realize that the process is so arduous and uncertain that my words of support can only do so much to help endure the market season. It's the toughest experience I've had in recent memory.”

As for a possible Lego Assistant Professor, the jury is still out.

February 22, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Michael Stachowiak, professor in the department of pathology and anatomical sciences at the University at Buffalo, discusses new findings that show the early stages of pregnancy as the starting point for this condition. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

February 21, 2018

The Foundation for Individual Rights is challenging Polk State College’s alleged censorship of an art instructor’s anti-Trump work. In a statement Tuesday, FIRE accused the Florida college of rejecting Serhat Tanyolacar’s submission to a faculty art exhibit in an attempt to “childproof” the campus. Tanyolacar’s piece, called “Death of Innocence,” depicts poets, writers, President Trump and other political figures engaging in sexual activity. Tanyolacar said the art is intended to highlight “moral corruption and moral dichotomy” and provoke debate, but Polk State informed him it could not be displayed because the campus offers classes to local high school students and “we feel that that particular piece would be too controversial to display at this time.”

FIRE and the National Coalition Against Censorship wrote to Polk State president Angela Garcia Falconetti last week, asking her to reconsider the college's decision. A spokesperson for Polk State said it had no comment. Tanyolacar was involved in another censorship debate over his art at the University of Iowa in 2014, when he was a visiting assistant professor there.

February 21, 2018

This is the last semester for "Michigan time," a tradition at the University of Michigan by which classes and meetings scheduled for the top of an hour start 10 minutes later than that. The idea has been that, given Michigan's vast campus, students and faculty members need the 10 minutes to get from place to place. But the university does recognize that students and professors can't just teleport to get to their next class or meeting. Going forward, hourlong classes and meetings will end at 50 minutes after the hour. An explanation from the university said that some people were using Michigan time and others weren't, creating a need for more uniformity.

February 21, 2018

The College Board reported today that a record 1.17 million students in the high school Class of 2017 took at least one Advanced Placement course. That's up from 1.14 million in one year and far more dramatically over a decade. Of the Class of 2007, 23.9 percent took at least one AP course, but the share is 37.7 percent for the most recent class.

Many more minority students are also taking AP exams and scoring at least a 3 on them (typically the minimum score needed for college credit). But large gaps remain among racial and ethnic groups. For instance, Asian students make up 6 percent of the most recent high school class, but 11.7 percent of the share of that class scoring at least a 3 on an AP exam. Black students make up 14.4 percent of the class and 4.3 percent of those scoring 3 or above.

Bar chart: Demographics of the Class of 2017 and AP students scoring 3 or higher in the Class of 2017. Chart shows 1 percent of Class of 2017 were American Indian/Alaska Native, and 0.2 percent of those scoring 3 or higher were American Indian/Alaska Native. 6 percent of Class of 2017 were Asian, and 11.7 percent of those scoring 3 or higher were Asian. 14.4 percent of Class of 2017 were black or African-American, and 4.3 percent of those scoring 3 or higher were black or African-American. 14.4 percent of Class of 2017 were black or African-American, and 4.3 percent of those scoring 3 or higher were black or African-American. The percentage of the Class of 2017 who identified as Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander was not statistically significant; 0.1 percent of Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander students scored 3 or higher. 56.3 percent of Class of 2017 were white, and 55.6 percent of those scoring 3 or higher were white. The percentage of the Class of 2017 who identified as two or more races was not statistically significant; 4 percent of those reporting two or more races scored 3 or higher.

February 21, 2018

Inside Higher Ed is pleased today to publish our latest print-on-demand booklet, "Making Higher Education More Efficient and Effective." You may download the booklet, free, here. And you may sign up here for a free webcast on the booklet topic, on Thursday, March 22, at 2 p.m. Eastern.

February 21, 2018

Image of signage on Forrest Hall at Middle Tennessee State UniversityThe Tennessee Historical Commission on Friday rejected a request from Middle Tennessee State University to rename Forrest Hall, The Tennessean reported. University officials asked for permission to rename the hall, which bears the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general during the Civil War and one of the early leaders of the Ku Klux Klan. University officials are discussing their options, which may include taking the matter to court.


Back to Top