Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 4:28am

Since 2008, California State University has settled seven cases brought by whistle-blowers who brought charges of wrongdoing to the attention of superiors, and said that they were subsequently punished for doing so, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The story focuses on Justin Schwartz, a lecturer at Cal State East Bay who reported that a colleague in the recreation department spent university funds to buy himself a $4,000 bike, gym passes and sailing equipment. The campus investigation confirmed the allegations. Schwartz is now out of a job (the university says that's because of budget cuts). The man he accused is still employed.

 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 3:00am

The Australian government today unveiled a new website designed to give would-be applicants (domestically and internationally) to the country's 39 public universities information about everything from their fees, faculty credentials and student graduation outcomes to their child-care services and campus pubs, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Federal officials (sounding like their American counterparts) said they hoped the transparency provided by MyUniversity would "help drive universities to lift performance and quality." Campus officials told the newspaper (privately) that they are skeptical.

Monday, April 2, 2012 - 4:41am

Research and development expenditures at Johns Hopkins University topped $2 billion in the 2010 fiscal year, according to data released last week by the National Science Foundation. Hopkins has led the list for decades because of federal support of its Applied Physics Laboratory. Of the $61.2 billion in R&D expenditures at universities, $21.5 billion in spending takes place at the top 25 universities, and just over $60 billion in activity takes place at doctoral institutions. Public institutions account for $41.2 billion in spending. Following Hopkins are: University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ($1.2 billion), University of Wisconsin at Madison ($1 billion), University of Washington at Seattle ($1 billion), and Duke University ($983 million).

 

 

 

 

Monday, April 2, 2012 - 3:00am

Anna Maria College has withdrawn its invitation to Victoria Reggie Kennedy to be the institution's commencement speaker, The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported. The college, a Roman Catholic institution, cited the objections of the Rev. Robert J. McManus, the bishop of Worcester. Bishop McManus said he wouldn't attend the graduation ceremony with Kennedy present because of her views in favor of legal rights to abortion, gay marriage and contraception. Kennedy issued a statement in which she said: "I have not met Bishop McManus, nor has he been willing to meet with me to discuss his objections. He has not consulted with my pastor to learn more about me or my faith. Yet by objecting to my appearance at Anna Maria College, he has made a judgment about my worthiness as a Catholic. This is a sad day for me and an even sadder one for the church."

Monday, April 2, 2012 - 3:00am

Trustees of the State College of Florida said Friday that they do not have any plans to end the system of continuing contracts that acts as an equivalent of tenure, The Herald Tribune reported. Some trustees had called for a review of the system, expressing fears that it encourages mediocre work. But trustees said Friday that their study revealed that there are appropriate measures in place to deal with any faculty members on continuing contracts who do not perform well.

Monday, April 2, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Brad Bushman of Ohio State University examines the relationship between victory and a competitor's aggressive behavior. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, April 2, 2012 - 3:00am

The law dean of the University of St. Thomas has released an open letter to Bob Morse, the head of the college rankings of U.S. News & World Report, objecting to the magazine's decision to declare the law school "unranked." The law school was declined a ranking after it reported that it had provided both accurate and inaccurate data on its job placement rates, and the inaccurate data had been used to rank the school. Thomas M. Mengler, the dean, noted that the magazine typically does not change rankings when errors are discovered after the rankings are released -- even in cases where the information provided was intentionally incorrect. "If the decision to 'unrank' is indeed a change in protocol, this leads to the policy concern I would like to highlight – the fact that your decision will create a disincentive for law schools to promptly report mistaken or erroneous data," Mengler wrote. "When other law schools lied, you called on all law schools to protect the integrity of the data and ultimately the reporting. We did that even for an unintentional mistake. And while we are willing to live with the unfortunate consequences, I fear your decision will serve as a disincentive for others to self-report errors."

Brian Kelly, editor of the magazine, responded with a letter in which he said: "We made this decision for the 2013 law school rankings at a time of continuing conversation about law school data, both inside and outside the academy.  Some schools have been accused of publishing inaccurate or misleading data. The American Bar Association is imposing more stringent reporting rules. And at U.S. News our responsibility is to continue to provide timely and relevant information about law schools to our readers, and to make them aware of new developments or changes in information. That is what we did in this case."

Monday, April 2, 2012 - 4:42am

For the second year in a row, Texas Tech University has won the Final Four in chess. After games in which each of four finalists play the other teams, Texas Tech's squad earned 8 points, narrowly edging out the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (each of which finished with 7.5 points), The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported. New York University was fourth. There could be big changes next year, however, as Texas Tech's coach, Susan Polgar, is moving to Webster University, taking key team members with her.

Monday, April 2, 2012 - 3:00am

A survey of faculty members at Shorter University found that most of them disagree with new requirements that they pledge to live by certain Christian principles (defined to bar, among other things, any sex outside of heterosexual marriage), and many hope to leave as a result, The Rome News-Tribune reported. The survey found that only 10 percent of faculty members favor signing new pledges to abide by the requirements, that only 12 percent plan to stay at the university, and only 8 percent have confidence in the institution's direction. University officials questioned the accuracy of the survey because it was anonymous, but faculty organizers of the survey said that it needed to be anonymous to encourage honest answers.

 

Monday, April 2, 2012 - 3:00am

An administrative judge has overturned a U.S. Education Department fine of $55,000 against Virginia Tech for failing to more speedily notify the campus of a threat on the tragic day in 2007 when 33 people died, The Washington Post reported. Some have faulted the university for not immediately notifying everyone on campus, once the first reports of a shooting came in. Virginia Tech officials have said that, after the first report, they had reason to believe that the shooter had left the campus. The judge's decision late Thursday said that the two-hour period before a warning went out  "was not an unreasonable amount of time in which to issue a warning.... If the later shootings at Norris Hall had not occurred, it is doubtful that the timing of the e-mail would have been perceived as too late."

In a statement, Virginia Tech officials said they were "satisfied" with the judge's ruling, but that "there is no glee" given the events of five years ago. "Because of what happened here, we know that higher education changed on April 16, 2007. New laws, protocols, practices, policies, and technologies grew from our tragedy. We hope that lessons from this unforeseeable crime will continue to inform the practices affecting campus safety throughout the nation and the world."


 

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