Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 4, 2019

University College London will close its campus in Qatar in 2020, when its contract with the Qatar Foundation ends. A spokesman said the decision was agreed upon jointly with the Qatar Foundation in 2016.

“For UCL, this forms part of implementing its UCL 2034 strategy, which from 2020 will see the university delivering all academic programs from its London Bloomsbury campus, and in future also from its new UCL East campus,” a spokesman said.

UCL said that as part of this 2016 decision, the university also adjusted its academic offerings at the campus in Doha “to meet the emerging educational needs of the State of Qatar’s 2030 Vision."

“UCL Qatar’s revised academic offering therefore focuses on two M.A. programs -- Museum and Gallery Practice and in Library and Information Studies -- and on completing its doctoral program," the spokesman said. “The decision resulted in the discontinuation of its masters-level programs in archeology and conservation sciences. A small number of staff were directly affected by this and either retired or moved to new employment prior to their contract termination.”

January 4, 2019

Kelly Jordan, former associate chair of the University of Florida’s nuclear engineering reactor, is suing the institution for breaching a confidentiality agreement about his departure, The Gainesville Sun reported. Jordan was found by Florida to have had a sexual relationship with a female graduate student before breaking up with her over fears that administrators would find out. He says he resigned in 2017 with assurances that that the university would drop a related investigation against him and recommend him for other jobs.

Instead, he says, Florida completed the investigation, which listed him as terminated and was later obtained by the Sun via an open records request. Jordan also alleges that the university tried to sabotage his hunt for a new job. The university declined comment on the lawsuit. But a spokesperson said Florida prohibits relationships between faculty members and other supervisors and their subordinate employees or students, according to the Sun.

January 4, 2019

Six public affairs schools will launch a Public Affairs Diversity Alliance, they announced Thursday. Their goal is to “encourage and sustain a pipeline” of candidates for faculty positions in criminal justice, policy and public administration. American University’s School of Public Affairs will chair the Public Affairs Diversity Alliance for a two-year term. The five other inaugural members are the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, the Price School at the University of Southern California, and the Evans School at the University of Washington. Each member institution will hire up to two alliance postdoctoral fellows or visiting scholars annually and will appoint one internal and one external mentor to promote networking and professional development. Other programs will be offered to graduate students to advance their success as future faculty members.

January 4, 2019

Today on the Academic Minute, part of "Best of" Week, Jennifer LeMesurier, professor of writing and rhetoric at Colgate University and recipient of the Best Political Science Segment Award, examined using knitting as a form of protest. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

January 3, 2019

Tony Bland, a former assistant basketball coach at the University of Southern California, on Wednesday pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, the Associated Press reported. Bland was one of the former college officials facing charges coming out of a major federal investigation of men's basketball programs. He admitted to taking $4,100 in cash to encourage players to use various financial advisers and business managers.

January 3, 2019

A merger between two institutions in New Hampshire will follow a two-step process that will begin with New England College operating the smaller New Hampshire Institute of Art as a subsidiary, they said Wednesday.

The two institutions announced merger plans in May, casting the move as a way to improve academic programs and administrative services. At the time, they offered relatively few details on the deal's structure.

Now, they expect a two-step process starting with the subsidiary arrangement, which will allow for planning and program integration. They will then move into a second phase in which art institute students will be enrolled as students at New England College.

The fully merged institution will keep the New England College name and operate the art institute as the Institute of Art and Design at New England College. The New Hampshire Institute of Art campus in Manchester is expected to remain open, with students from both campuses able to study there or at New England College's campus in Henniker, a small town about 30 miles away by car.

New Hampshire Institute of Art discussed merging into Southern New Hampshire University in 2014, but that deal ultimately died. At 350 students, mostly in undergraduate art and design programs, the art institute is much smaller than New England College, which totals almost 2,800 students in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs.

January 3, 2019

Two scientists have used economic theory to suggest that the current system of awarding federal research grants is fundamentally broken. The scientists argue in an article in PLOS Biology that the rates at which scientists win grants from federal science agencies is now so low that it may no longer make economic sense for scholars to put in the effort to write the best possible application. They argue that a better system might be a lottery of all applications that make it over a certain bar. This would relieve some of the pressure on scientists to focus on grant writing. They article also endorses the contest approach, where a grant goes to a team that achieves a certain breakthrough. The authors are Carl Bergstrom, a professor of biology at the University of Washington, and Kevin Gross, a professor of statistics at North Carolina State University.

January 3, 2019

Lake Superior State University marks the end of each year by providing a list of words and phrases to banish in the new year.

Wayne State University takes a different approach with its "word warriors" project, which seeks to encourage greater use of words that convey meaning and would promote good communication.

This year's list includes “lickpenny” (something that uses up money), “logorrhea” (excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness) and “slonk” (to swallow greedily). View the full list here.

January 3, 2019

Today on the Academic Minute, as "Best of" Week continues, Sebastian Deffner, an assistant professor of physics at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and winner of the Best Science Segment Award, explores quantum supremacy. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

January 2, 2019

Hundreds of graduate students are calling on the American Economic Association and individual economics departments to adopt reforms amid a scandal over a prominent economist, Roland Fryer of Harvard University. Fryer resigned from the executive committee of the association amid reports of harassment allegations he faces at Harvard (he has declined to comment on them). The association said it was unaware of the allegations when he was named to the committee.

An open letter, issued in response to the reports on Fryer, says in part, "This is a painful moment for our discipline. Abuses of power, bullying, and harassment damage peoples’ health and happiness, ruin careers, and reduce the quality of scholarship in economics. Moreover, it is well documented that these abuses of power disproportionately harm women, minorities, and queer individuals. These frustrating realities have pushed us to ask how economics can address the power imbalances that drive out talented individuals, prevent the inclusion of underrepresented groups, and collectively damage our discipline."

The letter calls on leaders in the profession to "listen to us" about the problems faced by graduate students and others, for each department to "create, communicate, and enforce department-level standards of conduct" and for the association to "Implement a discipline-wide reporting system to document bad behavior."

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