Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - 3:00am

College of Letters and Science faculty at the University of California at Los Angeles have voted against a proposal that would have required undergraduates to take a compulsory course called “Community and Conflict in the Modern World” as part of their general education requirements. A total of 404 ballots, representing about 30 percent of the faculty members, were submitted, with 56.1 percent voting against the requirement. Critics of the proposal said before the vote that the proposed requirement was similar to a 2004 “diversity requirement” proposal that was rejected.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement after the results were announced that he was disappointed that the requirement wasn’t approved. "I’m especially disappointed for the many students who worked with such passion to make the case for a change in curriculum set by faculty,” he said.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, James Hanson of Seton Hall University explains efforts to reduce unwanted encounters between humans and sharks by developing an effective repellent. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - 3:00am

By the end of March, Pennsylvania State University had spent just under $10 million on expenses related to the child sex abuse scandal involving allegations against Jerry Sandusky, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The costs reflect payments for legal fees, consultants and public relations. Other payments -- such as settlements reached with the former Penn State President Graham Spanier -- are not included in the calculation.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - 3:00am

Tel Aviv University announced Monday that it was canceling the reservation made for a university auditorium for a concert this month of the works of Richard Wagner, Haaretz reported. While Wagner's works are revered by many music lovers (including the Israel Wagner Society, which planned the event), playing his music is taboo in Israel, where his anti-Semitic writings and his many Nazi fans (well after his death) have made his works controversial. The university said that the auditorium was reserved without revealing the purpose, and that it was facing outrage over agreeing to the booking. Uri Chanoch, deputy chairman of the Holocaust Survivors Center, wrote to the president of the university, saying of the planned concert: "This is emotional torture for Holocaust survivors and the wider public in the state of Israel."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - 4:24am

College and university presidents are expected to announce at the White House today a new system to promote clarity of financial aid packages, The New York Times reported. Starting in the 2013-14 academic year, students will be provided with a "shopping sheet" with easily understandable aid packages, detailing costs after grants, and estimating monthly payments on any loans. Details will be released today.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - 4:27am

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, charged with enforcing Roman Catholic teachings, on Monday denounced the book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, by Sister Margaret A. Farley, saying that it was "not consistent with authentic Catholic theology," and should not be used by Catholics, The New York Times reported. Sister Farley is a professor emerita of Christian ethics at the Yale University Divinity School. The book presents theological rationales for, among other things, same-sex relationships, masturbation and remarriage after divorce. In a statement, Sister Farley said: "I can only clarify that the book was not intended to be an expression of current official Catholic teaching, nor was it aimed specifically against this teaching. It is of a different genre altogether."


Monday, June 4, 2012 - 3:00am

Vanderbilt University's football coach, James Franklin, has apologized for comments he made about his assistant coaches and their wives, CBS reported. Appearing on a radio show, he said: "I’ve been saying it for a long time, I will not hire an assistant coach until I’ve seen his wife.... If she looks the part, and she’s a D-1 recruit, then you got a chance to get hired. That’s part of the deal." With university officials and others criticizing the remarks, Franklin sought to clarify his remark. On Twitter, he wrote, "My foot doesn’t taste good, I hope I did not offend any1, I love & respect ALL." He added, "Attempt at humor obviously fell a few yds short. Was speaking to the courage it takes 4 men 2 approach the women who become their wives!!!!!"

Monday, June 4, 2012 - 4:21am

The budget cuts and enrollment limits faced by California's public colleges have led to increased recruiting (and increased enrollment) of California students at out-of-state colleges, The Los Angeles Times reported. Washington State University enrolled 132 Californians in the fall of 2011, double the figure from a year before. The University of Oregon now has 1,000 Californians, twice the level of five years ago. At college fairs in the state, out-of-state colleges stress their ability to provide small classes, and enough open spots in classes that students can graduate in four years.


Monday, June 4, 2012 - 3:00am

The Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from Ward Churchill, formerly a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who sued the university challenging his firing, The Denver Post reported. Churchill was fired after faculty committees found that he had engaged in repeated instances of scholarly misconduct. He denied the charges and said he was really being fired (illegally) for his controversial political views. The Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal on three issues: whether a university's investigation into the writings of a faculty member, and subsequent termination of that faculty member, violates the First Amendment; whether university regents are immune from lawsuits; and whether -- if regents are immune from lawsuits -- Churchill can win his job back.

Monday, June 4, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jay Pasachoff of Williams College explains the rare transit of Venus taking place on June 5th. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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