Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Marijuana enthusiasts have long visited the University of Colorado at Boulder for a pot-smoking celebration on April 20. The university announced Monday that it would be shutting its campus to outsiders on April 20 this year -- part of a move to discourage the event. Students and employees will need identification cards to get on campus. “The gathering disrupts teaching and research right in the heart of the campus,” said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. “The size of the crowd has become unmanageable, and limits our faculty, staff and students from getting to class, entering buildings and doing their basic work. It needs to end.” A legal challenge to the campus restrictions is possible. Officials from the American Civil Liberties Union told The Denver Post that the annual event is not just a party, but a political protest against drug laws, and that public universities cannot bar peaceful protests (or peaceful protesters) from campuses.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Politecnico, a leading Italian university, is switching the language of instruction to English, The Independent reported. The rector, Giovanni Azzone, said that the shift would "contribute to the growth of the country" and "respond to the needs of businesses." While some academics are supporting the move, others are angry. Luca Serianni, a linguist at La Sapienza University, said the move was "excessive and not only in the ideological sense."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 3:00am

A Michigan court has fined a 61-year-old woman for assaulting her instructor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Michigan Live reported. The woman has also been expelled from the college. The altercation took place in class. "We are disappointed the student did not receive jail time," said Stephen Louisell, faculty grievance officer. "It sends the message that teachers are not valued."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 3:00am

The 2012 Pulitzer Prizes were announced Monday, and a number of the winners have higher education connections.

The Harrisburg Patriot-News won the local reporting prize for "courageously revealing and adeptly covering the explosive Penn State sex scandal involving former football coach Jerry Sandusky." And John Sullivan, a senior lecturer in journalism at Northwestern University, co-led the team at The Philadelphia Inquirer that won the public service award for "exploration of pervasive violence in the city’s schools."

Academics tend to be well-represented among the winners in the Pulitzer's cultural categories, and this year was no exception:

  • The late Manning Marable, who was the M. Moran Weston and Black Alumni Council Professor of African American Studies and a professor of history and public affairs at Columbia University when he died last year, won the prize for history for Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (Viking).
  • John Lewis Gaddis, the Robert A. Lovett Professor of History at Yale University, won the prize for biography for George F. Kennan: An American Life (The Penguin Press).
  • Tracy K. Smith, of the creative writing faculty at Princeton University, won the prize for poetry for Life on Mars (Graywolf Press).
  • Stephen Greenblatt, the Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, won the prize for general nonfiction for The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (W.W. Norton and Company).
  • Kevin Puts, who is on the composition faculty of the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, won the prize for music for "Silent Night: Opera in Two Acts."
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 3:00am

The Modern Language Association has launched the Academic Workforce Data Center, making it easy to compare colleges on the percentages of their faculty jobs that are tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure-track, as well as the share of those off the tenure track in full-time and part-time positions. The center provides federal information, college by college, from 1995 and 2009, to allow academics to also examine trends over time. The MLA project in some ways updates the work of a similar analysis in 2006 by the American Association of University Professors. The data provided by the MLA cover all academic disciplines, not just those in the modern languages.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Derek Avery reveals how customer satisfaction can be tied to the diversity of a retail outlet's workforce. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, April 16, 2012 - 4:29am

The board of Santa Monica College has put on hold a two-tiered tuition plan that outraged many who saw an abandonment of community college values. But The Los Angeles Times reported that trustees are stunned by the reaction the plan received. Trustees say that they still view the plan as one of finding a way to raise money to educate low-income students -- and that they can't believe it was viewed as an attack on low-income students. The Times reported that one trustee viewed the plan as "socialism in action."

 

Monday, April 16, 2012 - 3:00am

The Saudi Ministry of Higher Education has told universities in the country to start to let women into political science departments, Al Arabiya reported. King Saud University plans to be the first institution to comply, and will allow women to enroll in political science next year.

 

Monday, April 16, 2012 - 3:00am

The Education Department's advisory panel on accreditation voted Friday to accept a final report on its recommendations for revamping the nation's quality assurance system for higher education, making few changes to a draft report that riled institutions and some members of the panel. The recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity call for maintaining the link between accreditation and institutions' eligibility for federal financial aid programs, despite a proposal from two of the committee's members -- Anne Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, and Arthur Rothkopf, president emeritus of Lafayette College. But the panel recommends other changes to the nation's accreditation system, including setting minimum consumer protection standards for states and urging the department to "encourage a dialogue" about sector-based accreditation.

Monday, April 16, 2012 - 3:00am

Advocates for Hebrew are pushing Israeli universities, where many courses are taught and much research is published in English, to increase use of Hebrew, The Forward reported. The Academy of the Hebrew Language is lobbying the Education Ministry to require more use of Hebrew, and that effort has many academics worried. "Hebrew is the language of the Jewish people, but if you write your thesis in Hebrew, it is buried,” said Yehuda Band, head of the chemistry department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. "A student who can’t write in English is severely limited — it’s the language of science."

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