Higher Education Quick Takes
Many medical faculty members at McGill University are protesting plans to shift the medical school curriculum from a research orientation to a focus on family medicine, The Montreal Gazette reported. The government of Quebec is strongly encouraging the shift, and supporters of the plan said that it will produce physicians who are needed by various communities. But professors say that McGill has traditionally played a key role in producing the physicians who also conduct high-level research, and that this mission is being gutted.
Faculty members in Emory University's College of Arts and Sciences have rejected, by a vote of 201 to 133, a vote of no confidence in President James W. Wagner. The arts and sciences professors make up about 20 percent of the university faculty -- and are the only group to hold a vote of no confidence. Over the last year, Emory's decision to end some academic programs frustrated many professors, particularly in the humanities. Opposition grew in February, when Wagner's column in the alumni magazine offered as a model for compromise the three-fifths compromise, in which Northern and Southern politicians creating the U.S. Constitution agreed to count each slave in the South as three-fifths of a person for purposes of taxation and Congressional representation. While Wagner apologized for using the example, many people at Emory were stunned that he could be unaware that many people view the compromise as a particularly ugly and racist moment in U.S. history.
After the vote, the university released a statement from the Board of Trustees saying that "The Emory University Board of Trustees extends its strong and undivided support to President James W. Wagner."
A statement from Wagner said: “I respect the views of all of our faculty and their right to express concern about the leadership and direction of our institution, and I take to heart the significance of this vote. Faculty governance and faculty responsibility for the future of Emory University are essential. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the administration and with the faculty to carry out the mission of this great institution. I have listened closely to constituents from across the university, and I look forward to sharing what I have learned and to working with all members of our community to move Emory forward. Together we have accomplished much, and in partnership with all of our community members, Emory will do much more.”
A new study has found widespread abuse -- psychological, physical and sexual -- of graduate students in biological anthropology when they work in the field. Women are much more likely to report abuse than are men, and those abused are more likely to identify men as those abusing them, but the study also found male victims and female harassers. The findings were presented at the 2013 meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropology.
Hundreds of employees at Bergen Community College apparently overpaid their New Jersey and federal taxes for years, The Bergen Record reported. The overpayments were the result of incorrect calculations about life insurance policies that are covered by the W-2 forms employees receive to do their taxes. The college has issued new W-2 forms and is advising employees that they may want to file amended returns for prior years.
The University of North Carolina board is expected today to name Carol Folt as the next chancellor of the flagship campus at Chapel Hill, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. Folt is currently interim president of Dartmouth College, where she has served as provost. She will succeed Holden Thorp, who is becoming provost at Washington University in St. Louis. Thorp has been well respected as an academic leader at UNC, but is leaving the chancellorship after a series of scandals in athletics.
Authorities have charged that about 20 people become fake students at Contra Costa College, applied for and received Pell Grants, and never attended classes, The Contra Costa Times reported. The ringleaders are alleged to have recruited people to participate, and to have taken a cut of the funds from each participant. The scheme (a problem faced by other colleges) is known as a "Pell runner" scam.
The European University Association has released a new analysis of the state of global university rankings. Various evaluation systems continue to proliferate and existing ones refine their methodologies, the report says. But some things do not change. The study notes "biases and flaws" that favor elite universities. Further, the report says that most rankings -- which tend to focus on research - "still not able to do justice to research carried out in the area of arts, humanities and social sciences."
RMIT University, in Melbourne, is attracting criticism for its decision to reject all applications from Iranian and Syrian students because of government sanctions, The Courier-Mail reported. However, a spokesperson from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said there are no blanket bans that would prevent the admission of students from these countries.