The State Board of Higher Education in North Dakota voted Monday to buy out the contract of Hamid Shirvani, the system chancellor, The Bismarck Tribune reported. Shirvani has faced a series of conflicts in the state in which various campus and political officials have questioned his managerial style. He has maintained that he was hired to push a reform agenda, knowing that some would disagree. He said that he respected the board's decision, and that he had asked board members to either issue a strong show of support or to “please just buy out my contract and thank you very much."
Higher Education Quick Takes
A pilot partnership between San Jose State University and Udacity, the Silicon Valley-based ed tech company, revealed some hidden costs of online education, The Oakland Tribune reports.
"I get this call from San Jose State: 'Uh, we have a problem,'" recalled Mark Ryan, superintendent of a charter school in Oakland that was taking part in the project to offer for-credit online classes to students, including high school students. According to the newspaper, "It turned out some of the low-income teens didn't have computers and high-speed Internet connections at home that the online course required. Many needed personal attention to make it through. The final results aren't in yet, but the experiment exposed some challenges to the promise of a low-cost online education. And it showed there is still a divide between technology-driven educators and the low-income, first-generation college hopefuls they are trying to reach."
Udacity just signed a major deal with the Georgia Institute of Technology to offer a low-cost professional master's degree courses to 10,000 students at once.
Gordon Gee announced Tuesday afternoon that he is retiring as president of Ohio State University. His announcement did not reference the recent uproar over his comments about Roman Catholics, other universities and the Big 10. But he is leaving quickly -- retiring on July 1.
In a statement, Gee said: "I recently returned from a vacation with my family, during which time I had a chance to consider the university’s phenomenal achievements and the road that lies ahead for it. Ohio State now has a richness of new opportunities that would be the envy of most universities. During my days away, I also spent some time in self-reflection. And after much deliberation, I have decided it is now time for me to turn over the reins of leadership to allow the seeds that we have planted to grow. It is also time for me to reenergize and refocus myself."
Gee has been president twice at Ohio State -- from 1990-97 and from 2007 until now. In between those presidencies, he was president of Brown University and chancellor of Vanderbilt University. Prior to his first Ohio State presidency, he was president of West Virginia University and the University of Colorado.
A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a lower court's decision siding with a medical corporation in a patent fight with the University of Minnesota over ownership of medical devices for fixing heart defects. In its ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected claims by the university that AGA Medical Corp. had infringed on patents owned by Minnesota researchers for septal occluders, devices used to block holes in the wall separating the heart's two chambers. The appeals panel upheld a lower court's decision declaring summary judgment for the company.
Syracuse University announced Monday that it will bring its 20 students in Istanbul, scheduled to return on Sunday, back on Wednesday instead, in light of the unrest in Turkey. Other universities preparing for summer programs in Istanbul have been monitoring the situation there.
The Hürriyet Daily News, meanwhile, reported that some universities in Turkey are postponing final exams because of the protests.
Scholars and others are protesting a forthcoming journal, Porn Studies, from Routledge. "While we agree that pornography and porn culture demand and deserve more critical attention, as a group of academics, activists, anti-violence experts, health professionals, and educators, we are deeply concerned about the journal’s intention and focus and about its editorial board, which is uniformly pro-porn," says a petition signed by hundreds. "Routledge is in a position of authority, and framing the editorial 'experts' on porn as pro-porn under the auspices of neutrality (which is what the journal title does) further fosters the normalization of porn and misrepresents the academic, political and ideological debates about the issue."
Times Higher Education asked editors of the journal about their reaction to the criticism, and the editors responded that they had been "especially pleased to have so many messages from academics welcoming the journal" and "delighted that we have been able to include the foremost scholars in this area on our board, and we are continuing to invite others so that we have a really good spread of academics across disciplines."
Gordon Gee, president of Ohio State University, who has been facing criticism over disparaging remarks he made about Roman Catholics and others, has withdrawn from a planned graduation speech at a Catholic high school, The Columbus Dispatch reported. A university spokeswoman said that “it's a very important, very seminal moment for the young people and so he really wanted to ensure that the appropriate focus was kept on the young people who are graduating and their families."
Saint Paul's College, a historically black institution in Virginia founded in 1888, will close at the end of this month. While college officials did not respond to reports over the weekend of an imminent closure, the Associated Press reported that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools confirmed that it had been formally notified by the college of plans to close. The college has been in danger of closure since SACS announced a year ago that it was stripping the college of accreditation, making its students ineligible for federal aid. There had been some hope that the college would be rescued by merging with Saint Augustine's College, a historically black college in North Carolina. Both institutions were Both founded by the Episcopal Church. But last month, Saint Augustine's announced that it did not consider that plan viable.
Tenure-track faculty members at the City University of New York have voted overwhelmingly that they have no confidence in Pathways, a controversial curricular shift in the CUNY system designed to make it easier for students at its community colleges to transfer to four-year colleges and in two additional years earn bachelor's degrees. More than 60 percent of eligible voters participated in the no confidence vote, and 92 percent of those voted no confidence. While the goal of smooth transfer from community colleges to four-year colleges is one that is generally endorsed by faculty members and administrators alike, many professors have spoken out against the way this is being done. Some have complained about specific changes in requirements, while others have questioned whether too much control of curricular matters has shifted away from department and college faculties. "It should be clear now, if it was not before, that CUNY should not move forward with Pathways. A 92 percent vote of no confidence is a mandate for change," said a statement issued Saturday by Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress, the faculty union, which organized the vote.
CUNY officials have defended Pathways as a needed reform to help more students earn bachelor's degrees. The system maintains a webpage with information about the program here.
While a number of adjunct leaders at CUNY have spoken out against Pathways, some have also criticized the vote of no confidence for excluding their participation.