Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 23, 2014

When George Reid left his position as executive director of the Illinois State Board of Higher Education, the announcement said he was leaving for personal reasons. But a state audit report released Friday revealed that Reid left amid concerns that he was using a state-financed rental car for his own personal needs, and that this pattern cost the state $6,500, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. The state report also revealed that when Reid was hired, the board knew that in a previous position at Kentucky State University, Reid had been found to be using university funds for personal items, such as a trailer hitch for a boat and a cat scratching post. The newspaper reached someone at Reid's home, but the phone went dead while the person was taking a message for Reid.

June 23, 2014

The Michigan Employment Relations Commission has denied a petition from the Graduate Employees' Organization of the University of Michigan, which represents graduate student instructors, to also be able to represent graduate research assistants. The commission found that the work of the research assistants directly advances their own educational career interests in ways that make their relationship with the university primarily one of being students, not employees. The GEO is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.

Brandon Valentine, a graduate student and co-chair of GEO's Communications Committee, issued this statement: "We are not surprised that a board full of Governor [Rick] Synder's appointees would go out of their way to attack the rights of working people. This unnecessary ruling by MERC serves no other purpose than to insert the politics of an unelected body into higher education. GEO stands by the fact that GSRAs are employees of the university and deserve to have their collective bargaining rights recognized."
 

June 23, 2014

Scholars at four American institutions were among the five recipients announced Monday of the Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics, the newest competition in the increasingly lucrative field of mathematics, The New York Times reported. The five recipients of the prize, which was established by Yuri Milner and Mark Zuckerberg, are: Simon Donaldson, Stony Brook University and Imperial College London; Maxim Kontsevich, the Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies outside Paris; Jacob Lurie, Harvard University; Terence Tao, the University of California at Los Angeles; and Richard Taylor, the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, N.J.

June 23, 2014

Several years ago many students and alumni of Northwestern University's famed Medill School of Journalism objected when it changed its name to the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications (yes, there's no "and" in the name). Given that many alumni didn't want "integrated" to be part of the name, some of the newest Medill alumni (those in the honors program) were amused to find that their diplomas had a typo on the word "integrated." Jim Romenekso's journalism blog has the photograph of the mess-up, and a quote from a Northwestern spokesman that “students are mostly taking it with good humor."

 

June 23, 2014

Non-tenured humanities faculty members at Hebrew University of Jerusalem are withholding grades from courses just completed this semester to protest layoffs and budget cuts, The Jerusalem Post reported. Leaders of the effort said that they hoped to draw attention to the impact of the cuts on student learning.

 

June 23, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Jane Costello, a professor at Duke University’s Institute for Brain Sciences, profiles an experiment in profit-sharing. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

June 20, 2014

Peter Ludlow, a Northwestern University philosophy professor who has been accused by an undergraduate of sexually harassing her, has filed a federal lawsuit against the university, charging it with mishandling the investigation and hurting his reputation with details released to reporters, The Chicago Tribune reported. Ludlow has denied doing anything inappropriate with the undergraduate, and Northwestern declined to comment. The suit reveals that Ludlow was also investigated for a relationship with a graduate student in 2012. Ludlow did not deny that relationship, but said that he did not supervise the student, that the relationship was consensual and that the relationship did not violate Northwestern's policies at the time.

 

June 20, 2014

Several hundred political scientists have signed a petition urging the American Political Science Association to change the traditional time for its annual meeting: Labor Day weekend. The petition notes that this time is difficult for some political scientists because their courses are just starting, and that the schedule is "family unfriendly" for parents helping their children get started at their schools and colleges. The petition also questions whether this time is particularly helpful to those academic departments doing job interviews. The petition proposes a mid-October meeting time instead. Steven Rathgeb Smith, executive director of the association, said via email: "We are indeed closely following the petition drive.  We welcome member input and will seriously consider this member feedback in the coming weeks."

 

June 20, 2014

The Senate Appropriations Committee has proposed flat funding for the Fulbright Program despite the Obama administration’s recommended $30.5 million reduction, the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange, an association that lobbies on behalf of international exchange organizations, posted Thursday in a report on its website

Fulbright alumni and others have mobilized to protest the president’s proposed 13 percent cut to the State Department’s flagship exchange program and – so far – they seem to have been heard. A parallel bill proposed in the House of Representatives and released earlier this week called for “not less than” $236.974 million in Fulbright funding, which would represent a slight increase over current spending levels. 

June 20, 2014

Southern New Hampshire University, known for its online and competency-based programs, but which also has traditional campus-based offerings, is in merger talks with the New Hampshire Institute of Art, a private, bachelor's granting arts college, The Manchester Union Leader reported. A merger, officials said, would expand Southern New Hampshire's arts offerings and provide it with real estate in downtown Manchester, while the art college would gain from the university's marketing and recruitment strengths.

 

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