Higher Education Quick Takes

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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."


 

Monday, April 2, 2012 - 3:00am

Both houses of the Colorado Legislature have now passed -- and the governor is expected to sign -- legislation permitting public colleges to offer binding multiyear contracts to those off the tenure track. To date, all adjunct employment has been strictly "at will." Supporters of the bill said that it would provide some job security for those doing much of the college teaching in the state.

Friday, March 30, 2012 - 4:30am

Federal agencies are conducting a review of research they support that could be used by terrorist groups. The document announcing the review note the need to balance multiple issues in the review. "Life sciences research is essential to the scientific advances that underpin improvements in the health and safety of the public, agricultural crops and other plants, animals, the environment, materiel, and national security. Despite its value and benefits, some research may provide knowledge, information, products, or technologies that could be misused for harmful purposes," the document says. "Measures that mitigate the risks ... should be applied, where appropriate, in a manner that minimizes, to the extent possible, adverse impact on legitimate research, is commensurate with the risk, includes flexible approaches that leverage existing processes, and endeavors to preserve and foster the benefits of research."

Friday, March 30, 2012 - 3:00am

The American Council on Education has named 57 faculty members and administrators as the 2012-13 class of the association's Fellows Program. The fellows are assigned to work for a year with a senior administrator at another institution, while also attending special educational programs. More than 300 fellows have gone on to become presidents while more than 1,100 have served as provosts, vice presidents or deans.

Friday, March 30, 2012 - 4:32am

More moves by adjuncts to unionize:

  • Adjuncts at Bergen Community College have voted to unionize through the American Federation of Teachers, The Bergen County Record reported. New Jersey community colleges have seen strong union representation among adjuncts, and organizers at Bergen said that they were impressed with gains made at other campuses.
  • The United Steelworkers -- not a major force in academic labor, but a major force in Pittsburgh labor -- has started a campaign to organize adjuncts at Duquesne University, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The union is considering similar drives among adjuncts at other colleges in the area.

 

Friday, March 30, 2012 - 3:00am

The Senate at Semmelweis University, in Hungary, voted to revoke the doctorate of Pal Schmitt, the president of Hungary, because of an inquiry that found extensive passages were copied from the work of others, the Associated Press reported. The doctorate was awarded by the University of Physical Education, which has since been absorbed by Semmelweis. The committee that studied the dissertation also faulted the University of Physical Education for not identifying the "unusually extensive" copying nor bringing it to Schmitt’s attention. That failure, the committee said, may have led him to believe that "his dissertation meets expectations."

 

Friday, March 30, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, William Ellis of Saint Michael's College reveals the connection between American rock and roll pioneer Sam Phillips and the roots of reggae. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, March 30, 2012 - 3:00am

John Huppenthal, Arizona's superintendent of schools, led a successful campaign to suspend Mexican-American studies from the Tucson public schools. Fox News reported that he now has the University of Arizona Mexican-American studies program as a target. "I think that’s where this toxic thing starts from, the universities,” Huppenthal said in an interview with Fox News Latino. "To me, the pervasive problem was the lack of balance going on in these classes." It is unclear what Huppenthal could do to a public university program. A university spokesman said via e-mail: "We're not issuing public comment at this time, since there haven't been any conversations yet between the university and Mr. Huppenthal regarding the Mexican-American studies program."

Friday, March 30, 2012 - 3:00am

Providence's mayor urged Rhode Island legislators Thursday to approve legislation that would allow the state's cities to charge colleges and other nonprofit institutions taxes of up to 25 percent of what they would owe if they were taxable entities, The Boston Globe reported. Providence is among numerous cities that have been looking to their tax-exempt institutions to help it fill budget gaps left by state budget cuts and declines in other revenues.


 

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