Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Monday, August 8, 2016 - 3:00am

In May, the London School of Economics and Political Science announced that Angelina Jolie Pitt, the actress and activist, would become a visiting professor in the Center for Women, Peace and Security. On Friday, citing "a source," Us Weekly reported that she would take a similar role at Georgetown University. The news excited Washington television stations and Vanity Fair -- and received coverage from as far away as Pakistan. One problem: the report about Georgetown apparently wasn't correct. Georgetown told The Washington Post that there are no plans for Jolie to teach there.

Monday, August 8, 2016 - 3:00am

Xavier University in Ohio will later this month become the home to the first pizza ATM in the U.S., The Cincinnati Enquirer reported. The $55,000 machine, which will be located in the Fenwick Place residence hall, is open for business around the clock and cooks a 12-inch pizza in about three minutes, according to reports. The machine does not symbolize the beginning a robot takeover of university dining services, however. Xavier's staff will still make the pizzas from scratch and then store and refrigerate them in the machine.

Monday, August 8, 2016 - 3:00am

Leaders of the University of Hong Kong are proposing changes in the way faculty members are hired, and those plans have set off concerns about faculty rights at the university, The South China Morning Post reported. Among the changes proposed is that faculty committees, which currently oversee hiring, would have their role changed to advisory. In additionally, faculty panels would lose the right to appoint assistant professors.

Monday, August 8, 2016 - 3:00am

In May, the University of Brighton announced that it would become Britain's first university to join a campaign to discourage consumption of sugar. As part of the campaign, the university imposed a 10 pence (about 13 cents) tax on sugary drinks. The funds will be used for programs that raise awareness of alternatives to sugar. The Telegraph reported that a new student group, Brighton Students Against Sugar Tax, is campaigning against the tax, arguing that the university could spend its own money on nutrition education if it wants to do so. Jeremy Gale, one of the organizers, told the Telegraph, "The university’s income has flourished despite a reduction in grants and a reliance on student fees. Why, then, doesn’t the university reinvest a small percentage of their bulging surplus into food education and healthy eating initiatives, rather than relying on a regressive and punitive levy that will hurt the poorest students the most?"

Monday, August 8, 2016 - 3:00am

A literature review on converting scholarly journals from subscription to open access has been published by the Harvard University Office for Scholarly Communication. The review looked at the experience of a range of journals, disciplines and approaches to open access. The conclusion: "Not every flip was a success, and not all the flips that were successful using one scenario would have been successful with a different scenario. But there were successes under every scenario and in every scholarly niche. Journals that picked a scenario that fit their circumstances were able to preserve or enhance their readership, submissions, quality and financial sustainability."

Monday, August 8, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Heather Reid, professor and scholar of the philosophy of sport at Morningside College, discusses whether commercialism is affecting the spirit of the Olympic Games. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, August 5, 2016 - 3:00am

Harvard University is home to the nation's oldest chapter of College Republicans. Since the chapter was founded in 1888, it has endorsed the Republican candidate for president every election year. On Thursday the Harvard Republican Club announced that, after discussion, the group will not endorse Donald Trump's candidacy. "Donald Trump holds views that are antithetical to our values not only as Republicans, but as Americans. The rhetoric he espouses -- from racist slander to misogynistic taunts -- is not consistent with our conservative principles, and his repeated mocking of the disabled and belittling of the sacrifices made by prisoners of war, Gold Star families and Purple Heart recipients is not only bad politics, but absurdly cruel," said a statement posted by the club on Facebook.

The statement does not endorse Hillary Clinton or suggest any lessening of the group's commitment to conservative causes. Club members are vowing to work to maintain Republican control of Congress. Adds the statement: "We call on our party’s elected leaders to renounce their support of Donald Trump, and urge our fellow College Republicans to join us in condemning and withholding their endorsement from this dangerous man. The conservative movement in America should not and will not go quietly into the night."

Friday, August 5, 2016 - 4:05am

Tim Hudson resigned suddenly this week as chancellor of Arkansas State University, without saying why he was leaving. Arkansas Online reported that his resignation followed an audit that criticized the management of the university's study abroad program, which is run by his wife, Deidra, in a part-time position. The audit found that trips were disorganized and questioned how student payments were handled.

Friday, August 5, 2016 - 3:00am

The American Physical Society scrapped plans to hold an upcoming conference in North Carolina, due to a new state law mandating that people use public restrooms matching the gender they were assigned at birth. The rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender physicists are an increasing area of focus for the society, and the Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics decided that holding its 2018 annual meeting in Charlotte was no longer safe or appropriate.

“The situation in North Carolina is untenable for trans physicists who would not only be at risk when making use of restroom facilities in conference venues but also at airports, hotel lobbies, restaurants and other establishments in the course of their visit to North Carolina,” Michael Falk, a professor of engineering and physics at Johns Hopkins University who chaired a recent society climate report concerning LGBT physicists, said in a statement. The society estimates the move will cost the Charlotte economy $5 million.

The U.S. Justice Department has warned North Carolina that the bathroom law, adopted in March, puts it out compliance with federal laws governing access to education. Some state lawmakers have since said they’ll fight federal intervention.

Friday, August 5, 2016 - 4:15am

Full-time faculty members at Tallahassee Community College have voted by a wide margin -- 139 to 22 -- to unionize and to be represented by the United Faculty of Florida, a statewide union affiliated with both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. The administration opposed unionization. A previous unionization drive was rejected by faculty members, but the new campaign followed a dispute between many faculty members and administrators over how many courses full-time faculty members must teach.

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