Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 7, 2014

Boston College is offering to return to the interview subjects oral history recordings that were made about "the Troubles," a period of intense protest and violence in Northern Ireland from the 1960s until the 1980s. British authorities (with backing from their U.S. counterparts) fought in U.S. federal court to obtain the recordings for use in possible prosecutions, and in the end obtained some recordings that many believe led to a recent detention for questioning. The use of oral history recordings in this way, in violation of confidentiality requirements made by researchers to the participants, has alarmed many scholars.

While Boston College was under court order to turn over some recordings, it currently is not under any such order. So the college issued this statement: "If Interviewees in the Belfast Project express their desire to have their interviews returned to them, Boston College will accommodate their request upon proper identification. Given that the litigation surrounding the subpoenas has concluded, we believe that it is the appropriate course of action to take at this time."

Chris Bray, a historian who written on the case (and criticized Boston College for not protecting the confidentiality of the recordings), said he believed the college's offer was unrealistic. Some of those recorded would be revealing their identities if they come forward to get the tapes, and the college could then be forced to reveal their identities, he said via email. "Since at least some of the interviews can't be safely returned to unidentified interviewees, and since BC can't guarantee that it will refuse to cooperate with future fishing expeditions in the collection, I think the collection should be immediately and entirely destroyed," he said.

 

May 7, 2014

With more than 500 member colleges, the Common Application remains a key force in admissions, even after taking a lot of hits in the last year for a botched launch of a new software system. But a competitor, the Universal College Application, is seeing growth. In the last year, as problems hit the Common Application, Universal added 12 new members, bringing its total to 43. Today, Universal is announcing six more members: Brandeis and Colgate Universities, the College of Mount Saint Vincent, the Universities of Chicago and Rochester, and Wilson College.

 

May 7, 2014

Legislation moving in the New York Senate and Assembly would require colleges to disclose the actual costs of study abroad programs and any financial relationships between study abroad providers and colleges, The Albany Times Union reported. Legislators are concerned that some study abroad programs actually cost colleges much less than institutions reveal to students, who may be paying the equivalent to the higher expenses they face at their home institutions.

 

May 7, 2014

After a month's respite, we're back with a new Cartoon Caption Contest. April just got away from us.

Click here to submit a caption for May's cartoon.

Cast a vote here for your favorite from among the very funny nominations chosen by our panel of experts from among the submissions for March's cartoon.

And please join us in congratulating the winner of February's contest, Edward Ogle, executive vice president of academic affairs at Marian University, in Wisconsin. His caption for the cartoon at left -- "Of course I checked with our visiting professor's references, all said he was one 'hell-of-a-guy.' " -- earned the most backing from the hundreds who cast votes. Thanks to all for participating -- and please keep doing so.

May 7, 2014

The board of Morgan State University appears to be fully backing David Wilson, the university's president. In late 2012, the board voted not to renew Wilson's contract. Then -- facing student and faculty protests -- the board voted to extend his contract by one year. On Tuesday night, the board announced an indefinite extension of Wilson's contract. A statement released by the board chair, Kweisi Mfume, said: “Over the last several years, higher education in this country has undergone a stressful and uncertain period. The challenges have been particularly problematic for our HBCUs; however, Dr. Wilson has emerged as a leading national voice and is guiding Morgan admirably through these times. The board values his leadership very highly and looks forward to his long and successful tenure.”

May 7, 2014

East Carolina University has clarified that students making personal statements at departmental graduation celebrations are allowed to give thanks to God. A chemistry professor set off a debate by telling students that they could not mention God in these statements. The university on Tuesday -- facing criticism from religious bloggers -- issued a statement indicating that the professor was incorrect, and that graduates could thank God.

 

May 7, 2014

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday announced the publication of two new proposed rules aimed at retaining highly skilled immigrants, including a proposal to allow spouses of certain H-1B visa holders to request authorization to work.

"Allowing H-1B spouses to work would be an important change," Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law at Cornell University Law School, told The Wall Street Journal. "Sometimes people aren't willing to come to the U.S. if their spouse can't work."

May 7, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court in April upheld the right of states to bar public colleges and universities to consider race or ethnicity in admissions decisions. On Tuesday, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education released a letter affirming the right of colleges without such state bans to consider to consider race and ethnicity, within the limits of other court decisions. "The Departments of Education and Justice strongly support diversity in elementary, secondary, and higher education, because racially diverse educational environments help to prepare students to succeed in our increasingly diverse nation," the letter said. "The educational benefits of diversity, long recognized by the court and affirmed in research and practice, include cross-racial understanding and dialogue, the reduction of racial isolation, and the breaking down of racial stereotypes. Furthermore, to be successful, the future workforce of America should transcend the boundaries of race, language, and culture as our economy becomes more globally interconnected."

 

May 7, 2014

Inside Higher Ed was wrong to assume on Monday that Rutgers University had resolved the controversies over its selection commencement speaker. The first speaker was to be Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, but she withdrew amid student and faculty protests. On Monday, it appeared that Rutgers had a noncontroversial choice in former New Jersey Governor Thomas H. Kean. That choice is now being criticized, but not for anything related to Kean. It turns out that, before announcing Kean, the university had approached Eric LeGrand to speak, and he had accepted. LeGrand is a former Rutgers football player who was paralyzed in a game in 2010, and who has gone on to be an inspiring public speaker.

NJ.com reported that LeGrand was called Monday night by the athletics director and told that the university president  "decided to go in another direction for political reasons." News that Rutgers had apparently disinvited LeGrand quickly spread, and the university then apologized, announced that LeGrand and Kean would both speak, and said that there had never been a plan for LeGrand alone to speak.

May 7, 2014

College students fail to eat or exercise in ways that would reduce their chances of cancer later in life, according to a study by Northwestern and Northeastern Illinois University researchers. The study, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, found that 95 percent of college students fail to eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables (at least five servings a day), and more than 60 percent report not getting enough physical activity.

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