Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 20, 2013

Leaders of the Association of American Universities and the Association for Jewish Studies on Friday condemned academic boycotts -- a topic in the news due to the vote by the American Studies Association to boycott Israeli universities.

"The Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities strongly opposes a boycott of Israeli academic institutions," said a statement from the AAU. "Three U.S. scholarly organizations have now expressed support for such a boycott.  Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general." The statement continued: "Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom.  Restrictions imposed on the ability of scholars of any particular country to work with their fellow academics in other countries, participate in meetings and organizations, or otherwise carry out their scholarly activities violate academic freedom.  The boycott of Israeli academic institutions therefore clearly violates the academic freedom not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with it.  We urge American scholars and scholars around the world who believe in academic freedom to oppose this and other such academic boycotts."

The board of the Association for Jewish Studies released a resolution it adopted that said in part: "In view of the association’s longstanding commitment to the free exchange of ideas, we oppose academic boycotts. On the same grounds, we recommend that other academic associations oppose academic boycotts. We urge that they seek alternative means, less inimical to the principle of academic freedom, to pursue their concerns. We especially oppose selective academic boycotts that entail an ideological litmus test. We understand that such selective boycotts may be intended to preserve academic exchange with those more open to the views of boycott proponents, but we cannot endorse the use of political or religious views as a test of eligibility for participation in the academic community."

 

December 20, 2013

The London School of Economics and Political Science has apologized to two students who, at an event for new students, were told that they had to cover up their T-shirts depicting Mohammed and Jesus, Times Higher Education reported. At the time, the students were staffing a table of the Atheist Secularist and Humanist Society at the university, and officials said that their attire could be seen as harassment of Muslims. Now, however, officials say that they realize that the T-shirts did not violate any university rules and so the students should not have been told to cover up what they were wearing.

 

December 20, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Sujay Kaushal of the University of Maryland reveals how acid rain has made rivers and streams less acidic. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

December 20, 2013

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, and Democratic legislative leaders have reached an agreement that should pave the way for the state's public colleges and universities to charge in-state tuition to students who lack the legal documentation to reside in the United States, The New York Times reported. Christie appeared last year -- when running for re-election -- to back the idea, but he has been ambivalent of late, leaving many to wonder if he could support the bill. Under the compromise, the governor has said he will sign the bill as long as it is amended to deny state financial aid to the undocumented students.

December 20, 2013

M. Christopher Brown II resigned Thursday, effective immediately, as president of Alcorn State University. The Associated Press reported that the resignation came amid an investigation into the university's purchasing practices, and that the investigation has already led to the resignations of two other senior officials. Brown has been president of the historically black institution in Mississippi since 2010 and he earned a reputation as having an ambitious agenda to increase enrollment and to elevate the prominence of the university in the state. He did not respond to an email seeking his comment on his resignation.

 

 

December 20, 2013

The chancellor of the University of California at San Diego has issued a statement on the American Studies Association’s resolution backing the boycott of Israeli higher education institutions. “We affirm the right of the faculty to advance their scholarship and research through open dialogue with academic colleagues in all countries,” Pradeep K. Khosla said. “UC San Diego faculty collaborations draw on richly diverse ideas and views around the globe, including in the Middle East. Excluding scholars limits discussion and conflicts with the University of California’s highest aspirations.”

December 20, 2013

A jury on Thursday rejected a suit to force the actor Ryan O'Neal to turn over an Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett to the University of Texas at Austin, CNN reported. Fawcett left her her art, including a Warhol portrait, to the university. The dispute was over a second Warhol portrait. The university claimed that both once were Fawcett's and thus part of her estate. But the jury apparently accepted O'Neal's version of events, which was that Warhol did one portrait of Fawcett for her and one for O'Neal.

 

December 20, 2013

In July, there was much chatter about a Craigslist ad from the mother of a student about to enroll at Harvard University. The ad sought a young woman to have sex with her son, a virgin whom she feared was too shy to learn about women without some secret coaching from Mom.

Now there is a new Craigslist ad -- this time from someone who appears to have just been admitted to next year's class. "I am looking for someone to attend Harvard University pretending to be me for four years, starting August 2014. I will pay for your tuition, books, housing, transportation, and living expenses and pay $40,000 a year with a $10,000 bonus after graduation. All you have to do is attend all classes, pass all tests, and finish all assigned work, while pretending you are me. You do not need to worry about being accepted, I have already taken care of that." The ad specifies that applicants must have 4.0 grade-point average in high school, or a 3.5 or higher from a university.

A fake? Who knows. Inside Higher Ed sent an email to the reply address and hasn't heard back. A Harvard University spokesman said via email: "We cannot verify the veracity of an online ad. We regularly take appropriate steps to ensure that only students admitted to Harvard College matriculate." Harvard has been duped in the past.

 

 

December 19, 2013

The Southern Illinois University at Carbondale chancellor and athletics director stated their support for the head men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson on Wednesday, after Hinson spent several minutes of his post-game press conference (see video below) raging about athletes’ poor performance in the team's 73-65 loss Tuesday night. Among other things, the coach called them "uncoachable" “mama’s boys,” called a specific player by name “PG-rated” and “absolutely awful,” said his wife could have made more baskets, and joked that “there was a sniper in the gym” and that athletes who fell on the court got “sniped.”

Hinson told USA Today Sports on Wednesday that he stood by everything he said, but apologized for singling out the one player. “Let’s get something straight,” he said. “I didn't grab anybody, I didn't hit anybody. I didn't even use profanity. I just want my kids to play harder. You've gotta be able to criticize in this society. I want what's best for my players.”

The coach also said he had the support of Athletic Director Mario Moccia. In a statement sent to Inside Higher Ed, Chancellor Rita Cheng called Hinson “a coach who cares deeply about his players and their success.”

“Last night, his passion for his team merged with his frustration for its performance, resulting in some unfortunate statements that I know he regrets,” Cheng wrote. “We always hope that all of our coaches will publicly support our teams and student athletes regardless of the score. Barry understands and agrees with this principle, and I’m confident that he will work to embody it as he continues to rebuild our team.”

Twenty months into the job, Hinson has 16 wins and 25 losses.

 

 

 

December 19, 2013

California's Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) wants the state's government to devise criteria for determining which for-profit institutions are most at risk for having questionable business practices. In a newly released report, the agency said state regulators should exempt most for-profits that hold regional accreditation from their reviews, freeing up resources to conduct targeted oversight. Possible factors that could be used to determine which institutions need extra scrutiny could include "school ownership, types of programs offered, track record of operation in state and performance criteria," the report said.

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