Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 3:00am

The Russell Group, an invitation-only organization of British research universities roughly equivalent to the Association of American Universities, announced Monday that it is admitting four new members -- more than have ever been added to the organization since its founding in 1994. The new members are Durham University, Queen Mary University of London, the University of Exeter and the University of York. Prior to Monday's announcement, the Russell Group had 20 members. Times Higher Education noted that the gain for the four universities is a loss to the 1994 Group, which Russell's newest members left, and which represented other institutions not in the more exclusive group.

 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 3:00am

The hit comedy "Big Bang Theory," about a group of scientists, has had Stephen Hawking plot lines. BBC reported that Hawking has now filmed a cameo that will air on the show next month. In the show, he will interact with Sheldon Cooper, known for being socially awkward.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 3:00am

The Pennsylvania Board of Trustees on Monday issued a statement clarifying the reasons that it dismissed Graham Spanier as president and Joe Paterno as football coach in November. The dismissals came as the university reacted to the scandal involving allegations that one of Paterno's top assistants had for years molested boys, sometimes at Penn State facilities. Many alumni have criticized the board in particular for its decision on Paterno, who had already announced he would retire at the end of the football season and who has since died. The board said that it fired Paterno because he did not notify police when he learned of allegations involving the abuse of one boy. (While Paterno did notify a Penn State administrator, meeting the legal requirements for reporting abuse allegations, the board statement said that "his decision to do his minimum legal duty and not to do more to follow up constituted a failure of leadership by Coach Paterno.") As for Spanier, the board said that he "insufficiently" informed the board of his knowledge of various incidents, and that he issued press statements as the scandal became public that were "without authorization of the board or contrary to its instructions." Spanier declined to comment on the board's statement.

 

Monday, March 12, 2012 - 4:25am

The University of California at Berkeley has demoted Diane Leite, formerly an assistant vice chancellor, for giving several raises to a purchasing manager, Jonathan Caniezo, with whom she was having a sexual relationship, Bay Area News Group reported. The manager's immediate supervisor, who reported to Leite, objected to the raises as inappropriate. Between 2007 and 2010, a period of deep budget cuts for the university, the manager's pay was increased in a series of raises from $70,000 to more than $110,000. Leite and her lawyer did not respond to requests for comment. Her pay was cut from $188,531 to $175,000.

 

Monday, March 12, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Calgary student body's new vice president for student life won her election after using an unconventional campaign poster. The Calgary Herald reported that Hayley Wade placed posters seeking votes on top of urinals in men's rooms on campus. Underneath a photograph of the candidate is the tag line "Great dick bro!" While Wade won, the Herald noted that her mother was not pleased with the campaign tactic.

Monday, March 12, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Kevin Burke of Towson University examines the phenomenon of momentum in sports. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, March 12, 2012 - 4:29am

Admissions officers at the University of British Columbia medical schools, one of Canada's top medical schools, report increasing pressure from influential parents of applicants to admit them, The Vancouver Sun reported. Quoting from documents the newspaper obtained, the article cited as an example an applicant who ignored repeated e-mail reminders about deadlines for various materials, but who was allowed to file them late -- after an appeal from her well connected father.

 

Monday, March 12, 2012 - 3:00am

Union supporters in Michigan -- faced with a major setback at the University of Michigan -- are pushing for state constitutional protection. Legislation awaiting the governor's signature would classify graduate research assistants as students, not employees eligible for collective bargaining. If the legislation becomes law, it would undo years of efforts to organize the University of Michigan's research assistants. The Detroit News reported that in response to this and other legislative moves, Michigan unions (many of which aren't focused on higher education) are considering a drive to get a measure on the ballot in the state in which voters could add a provision to the state's Constitution declaring that no state law can limit the right of collective bargaining.

 

Monday, March 12, 2012 - 3:00am

Open records requests by The Independent have revealed that British universities have found that 45,000 students cheated in the last three years. Officials blamed the sophistication of digital cheating techniques, the pressure to succeed in higher education and (from critics of the expansion of higher education) increased enrollments of students who may not have been well-prepared. Thirteen universities reported discovering finding, on average, more than one case of cheating a day.

Monday, March 12, 2012 - 3:00am

The man who went on a shooting rampage at a University of Pittsburgh clinic last week had been a graduate student in biology at Duquesne University until that institution barred him from its campus, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. John F. Shick, who was shot by police officers responding to the incident, was barred because Duquesne found that he had been sending harassing text and e-mail messages to female students.

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