Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, August 5, 2013 - 3:00am

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is demanding that Troy University, a public institution in Alabama, abandon plans to open a dormitory restricted to those who participate in community activities with churches or faith-based groups. The foundation, citing the First Amendment's separation of church and state, questions how a public university could restrict access to people based on having a faith. Further, the foundation noted in a letter to the university that in some local press reports, Troy officials have been quoted as saying that Christian students would have preference for the spots, saying that non-Christians could move in "if there was space available." (Subsequently, a university spokesman disavowed that policy.) The university has not responded to the letter from the foundation.

 

 

Monday, August 5, 2013 - 3:00am

A North Carolina judge has issued an injunction to block a new state law ordering the removal of four trustees from the board of Central Carolina Community College, The News & Observer reported. The law orders the removal of all four trustees appointed by a local school board, and bars those trustees from running again. The new law does not affect those trustees appointed by a county board of commissioners. The school board is controlled by Democrats, as are its appointees. The county board is controlled by Republicans, as are its appointees, and the state legislator who pushed the bill. A suit challenging the law charges that it is arbitrary, and that it is not the role of the state to remove community college trustees based on their party identification. Mike Stone, the state representative who sponsored the bill, said it was "totally legit."

 

Monday, August 5, 2013 - 3:00am

Citing losses of approximately $7 million, Ave Maria University, in Florida, has sold its branch campus in Nicaragua, the Naples Daily News reported. The Nicaragua campus has been sold to the Fort Lauderdale-based Keiser University.

Monday, August 5, 2013 - 3:00am

An article in The New York Times provides an overview of the new Football Performance Center at the University of Oregon. Among the features noted by the Times: rugs woven in Nepal, couches made in Italy, a weight room featuring a floor of Brazilian hardwood and a barbershop where utensils are from Milan. The center was originally projected to cost $68 million, but the Times reporter found that to be "conservative" based on a tour. The university claims not to know the full cost. Donations from Phil Knight, a founder of Nike, paid for the facility (which has Nike-themed features). University officials said that they were proud to be associated with Nike. "We are the University of Nike,” said Jeff Hawkins, senior associate athletic director of football administration and operations. "We embrace it. We tell that to our recruits."

Monday, August 5, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of California Academic Senate has adopted an open-access policy under which future research articles by professors at any of the system's 10 campuses will be available free and online in a university depository. The decision was reached after six years of deliberations and represents an advance for advocates of open access. Chris Kelty, associate professor of information studies at the University of California at Los Angeles and chair of the University Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication, said: "This policy will cover more faculty and more research than ever before, and it sends a powerful message that faculty want open access and they want it on terms that benefit the public and the future of research."

Monday, August 5, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Brian Lowe of the State University of New York at Oneonta explains why Big Data is becoming a focus of academic inquiry. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Monday, August 5, 2013 - 3:00am

A University of Utah investigation found "reckless" misconduct in a lab, resulting in numerous errors in published papers, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Errors have raised questions about 11 medical research papers published over the last five years. The investigation was prompted by the retractions of two of the papers. The author of many of the papers has been fired and the head of the lab retired. They and others affiliated with the lab did not respond to requests for comment.

 

Friday, August 2, 2013 - 3:00am

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a major supporter of entrepreneurial education, has released two white papers about the results of those efforts. The papers note that entrepreneurial education is no longer on "the margins of higher education," as many more institutions have started efforts.

 

Friday, August 2, 2013 - 3:00am

Hugo Schwyzer, who teaches history and women's studies at Pasadena City College, is dropping his controversial course on pornography, The Pasadena Star-News reported. Schwyzer said that his online activities have been so controversial (he has until now written regularly on sex and gender issues) that he needs to step back and focus on his family. He said this was especially important because he recently had an affair. The controversial course is about pornography, and Schwyzer clashed with administrators over his guest lecturers (some of whom are stars in the adult film industry). He told the Star-News he didn't want a repeat of the hostility from administrators toward his course. "I'm exhausted by threats and controversy," Schwyzer said. "I need a break."

 
Friday, August 2, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of California System bars those flying on the university's dime from using anything but economy class, unless there is a certified medical need. The Center for Investigative Reporting found that 6 of the 17 academic deans "routinely" are certified as having a medical need to fly business or first class, and that travel bills go up as a result. The article noted that one of the deans who does not fly economy is Judy Olian of the Anderson School of Management. The article said that she "has at least twice tackled the arduous 56-mile cycling leg of the long course relay at Monterey County’s Wildflower Triathlon, according to her expense records and race results. She described herself in a 2011 Los Angeles Times profile as a 'cardio junkie.' " None of the deans cited in the article would comment. A spokeswoman for the UCLA business school would not identify Olian's medical condition, but said that it does not interfere with her biking.

UCLA provided a statement defending the need for deans to travel: "While today’s times demand financial prudence, UCLA must make investments in travel and entertainment-related activities to continue its trajectory as one of the world’s top research universities and a national leader in securing gifts and research funding."

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