Higher Education Quick Takes
Universities in Canada are increasingly concerned that a strike by foreign service workers will affect the ability of international students to obtain their visas in time to enroll for the fall semester. “That’s a real possibility that there will be students missing in the ranks,” McGill University’s dean of students, André Costopoulos, told CBC News.
“This is the time of year when international students have got choices,” Paul Davidson, the president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada told the CBC’s Ottawa Morning radio program. “They have applied to universities in the United Kingdom, in Australia, in the United States and in Canada, and the country that gets them their visa fastest has the best chance of getting those students. So the job action with the visa applications backlogging is a real barrier for international students getting to Canada for this September.”
The University of Southern California is under investigation over allegations of sex discrimination, the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights confirmed this weekend. USC is the latest institution where students filed federal complaints alleging violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 stemming from the handling of sexual assault cases. OCR also recently opened up investigations at Swarthmore College, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, all in response to a renewed focus on the issue by the Education Department and an unprecedented wave of student activism and awareness of their rights.
Harvard University acted in "good faith" in conducting secret searches of e-mail files of some instructors, an outside report has concluded, The Boston Globe reported. The outside report, by a law firm, was commissioned amid widespread faculty and student anger over the e-mails searches, which were conducted as the university was concerned about leaks about a cheating investigation. Administrators believed at the time that they were acting in ways consistent with university policies, and administrators did not read the e-mail messages in the accounts that were searched, the report said.
Seven branches of the Indian Institutes of Technology plan to embrace the concept of massive open online courses, The Economic Times reported. They plan to produce a series of courses that, if taken together, could help students qualify for various jobs. An initial series of courses will be in computer science. Organize think that more than 100,000 people could benefit from the offerings.
National Journal has just completed its analysis of the college degrees (undergraduate and graduate school) of the top 250 Obama administration officials. The institutions at the top of both lists are private. Of graduate degrees in the senior ranks of the administration, only 25 percent come from public institutions. And while the top five lists lack public U.S. institutions, the University of Oxford does make one of the lists.
Top Universities for 250 Top Obama Administration Officials
|Harvard U. -- 23||Harvard U. -- 38|
|Yale U. -- 12||Georgetown -- 12|
|Cornell U. -- 11||U. of Oxford -- 11|
|Princeton U. -- 6||Columbia U. -- 9|
|U.S. Military Academy -- 6||George Washington U. -- 9|
The American Historical Association on Friday released a statement criticizing the way Mitch Daniels (when he governor of Indiana, prior to becoming president of Purdue University) exchanged e-mail messages with staff members criticizing the work of the late Howard Zinn. "Whatever the strengths or weaknesses of Howard Zinn’s text, and whatever the criticisms that have been made of it, we believe that the open discussion of controversial books benefits students, historians, and the general public alike. Attempts to single out particular texts for suppression from a school or university curriculum have no place in a democratic society," said the statement.
Daniels defended himself last week in part by citing the work of historians far to his left who have also criticized Zinn. But some of those who Daniels cited (and who are no longer part of the statement posted on the Daniels website at Purdue) have since objected to his use of their statements about Zinn. Michael Kazin, a professor of history at Georgetown University whose criticism was cited by Daniels, published as statement on the Academe blog of the American Association of University Professors. "I don’t think much of Zinn’s interpretation of U.S. history, it’s true. But it’s an interpretation, which like any serious work of history, chooses to emphasize certain themes and details in order to make a larger argument. I would be unhappy if Zinn’s book were the only or even the main text in a high-school or college history class (as I understand is sometimes the case). But chapters of it can be quite useful if contrasted with alternative interpretations," Kazin wrote. "When Daniels accuses Zinn of being a 'biased writer,' he just shows how little he understands about how history is now and has always been written. Every historian has a point of view about whichever portion of the past they choose to study. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be writing about it in the first place."
Sam Wineburg, a professor of education at Stanford University whose criticism of Zinn was also cited by Daniels, issued a series of comments on Twitter: "Mitch Daniels uses my work to defend his shameless attempts to censor free speech. Shame!" and "Mr. Daniels, free societies openly teach ideas we disagree with. We do not censor objectionable speech. Study your Orwell" and "I have criticized Zinn but will defend to my death the right to teach him. Shame on Mitch Daniels."
The College Board and the Educational Testing Service have invalidated Advanced Placement scores at Mills High School, in California, saying that "seating irregularities" may have resulted in some students gaining an advantage on the test, The Bay Area News Group reported. The College Board and ETS aren't asserting that cheating took place, but that seating for the AP tests did not follow the rules and could have permitted cheating. The AP tests are being rescheduled. Students say that they are all being punished unfairly and that it will be difficult to score as well after their courses have ended. Students have created a website, Why We Need Our Scores Back, about their concerns.
An anonymous blogger has pointed out that Boston University's student newspaper, in its crime log, has been posting headlines that mock those who have reported the crimes. For example, a listing about a domestic violence case reported by a woman against her boyfriend, who she said choked her, was labeled "Choked Up." The student newspaper, The Daily Free Press, has now apologized. A statement from its board says: "[T]he Crime Logs sections of The Daily Free Press have repeatedly published callous sub-headlines making light of serious issues and inadvertently exploiting victims of crime for humor. On behalf of the Board of Directors of The Daily Free Press, we sincerely apologize for these headlines and any other material that may have caused harm or offense."
The recent firing of Beckie Francis as women's basketball coach at Oakland University (along with the subsequent resignation of her husband, the university president) has been somewhat mysterious on the campus. But The Detroit Free Press reported on the results of interviews with former players that Francis pushed Christianity on players, told them that they needed to be virgins and was "fixated" on body issues. The players reported that photographs were taken of them in sports bras and Spandex to chart any changes in body size. Francis declined to comment for the article.