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."
Higher Education Quick Takes
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.
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."
Ohio State University has received a bid of $483 million to lease parking operations for the next 50 years, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The university had hoped for a bid of at least $375 million. Some faculty members and others have criticized the leasing plan as needless outsourcing, but university officials have said that a deal could improve parking management and provide needed revenue.
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.
A new poll by Gallup has found that 46 percent of Americans believe that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so." Another 32 percent believe that humans have evolved over millions of years but "God guided the process." And only 15 percent believe that humans evolved without help from God. The breakdown is similar to that Gallup found in 1982, when it started asking about evolution. But in the last year, the percentage who believe in a creationist view increased from 40 to 46 percent, with the other two categories dropping.
Other findings of the new poll:
- Among those who attend church weekly, 67 percent hold the creationist view.
- Among Republicans, 58 percent hold the creationist view. (The figure for Democrats is 41 percent.)
- By educational status, those with some postgraduate education are least likely (25 percent) to hold the creationist view, but among college graduates, the share (46 percent) matches that of the general population.
The analysis by Gallup states: "Most Americans are not scientists, of course, and cannot be expected to understand all of the latest evidence and competing viewpoints on the development of the human species. Still, it would be hard to dispute that most scientists who study humans agree that the species evolved over millions of years, and that relatively few scientists believe that humans began in their current form only 10,000 years ago without the benefit of evolution. Thus, almost half of Americans today hold a belief, at least as measured by this question wording, that is at odds with the preponderance of the scientific literature."
Manipal University, a private institution in India, is in talks to open a campus in China, in collaboration with two universities in that country, Tianjin University and Tongji University, The Hindu reported. The campus being planned would be the first in China to offer a program in information technology and other sciences, taught only in English.
Enrollments in graduate science, engineering and technology programs have grown sharply over the last decade but slowed in 2009-10, according to new data from the National Science Foundation. The NSF study, drawn from the Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering conducted by the foundation and the National Institutes of Health, shows that enrollments in graduate programs in STEM fields grew by 30 percent from 2000 to 2010, and that the growth was even larger -- 50 percent -- in the number of first-time, full-time enrollees in such programs. Enrollments of women grew at a faster pace than those of men (roughly 40 percent vs. 30 percent), and the rates of enrollments by underrepresented minority studies outpaced those of white and Asian Americans (though their actual numbers were much lower).
While enrollments continued to rise in 2009-10, hitting a historical peak, the rate of growth slowed significantly, particularly among full-time, first-time students. The enrollment of such students fell to 1.7 percent in science programs and 4 percent in engineering programs, compared to 8.2 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively, in 2008-9.
The Morehouse School of Medicine announced last week that it has raised $2 million to endow a chair that will focus on sexuality and religion, the Associated Press reported. The chair will focus on ways to train physicians and theologians on sexual health issues that include contraception, rape prevention, unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. A spokeswoman for the Association of American Medical Colleges said she did not know of a similar endowed chair at any other medical school.
Seventeen former nursing students have sued the Maricopa Community Colleges over the finding that they cheated, The Arizona Republic reported. The cheating dispute concerns whether they were properly informed that they could not do group work on an online quiz to be done at home. But the former students are also challenging the slow speed at which their appeals were handled under a timetable that they said forced them to miss two consecutive semesters, and to lose tuition paid -- without having their grievances heard. The Arizona State Board of Nursing has raised concerns about the grievance procedure as well. Maricopa officials said that the students' complaints are not valid.