Séverine Autesserre, a Barnard College political scientist, was today named winner of the 2012 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. She was honored for her new book, The Trouble with the Congo: Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding (Cambridge University Press). In the book, she argues that international peacekeeping works better when close attention is paid to local conflicts.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Monday was a day of protest at University of California campuses, with students objecting to the way the university system is managed and to recent incidents at the Berkeley and Davis campuses in which many say the right of peaceful protest was denied by campus police officers:
- The University of California Board of Regents was attempting a teleconference, with regents meeting on several campuses, but the regents were forced to move to other rooms when students at several locations started chanting protest slogans, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. After the regents left the rooms (and finished their official business elsewhere), students took over the room and declared that they would act as "people's regents."
- Several hundred students held a "general strike" at the university's Davis campus, but many other students appeared to be going to class as usual, The Sacramento Bee reported.
- At the University of California at Santa Cruz, several hundred students occupied the student services building, The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.
- The Occupy California movement has posted accounts of many other protests.
- At the University of California at Merced, a young campus without much history of protests, Chancellor Dorothy Leland issued a statement to praise the students for taking a stand, and doing so peacefully. "Thanks to the mutually respectful and collaborative atmosphere — which is a hallmark of our campus — academic, research and administrative activities of the university were carried out as they would be on any other day. I appreciate everyone's commitment to our campus' Principles of Community, as well as the time and effort students and others took to convey their dissatisfaction with rising cost of tuition and detrimental cuts to the university’s budget," she said.
The Modern Language Association and the Middle East Studies Association have both issued statements condemning the way the University of California has handled recent protests.
The MLA's Executive Council distributed an e-mail to members Monday in which it said: "Many of us have viewed with revulsion the images of campus police in riot gear pepper-spraying a nonviolent circle of protesters at the University of California, Davis, seated with arms linked, participating in a classic act of civil disobedience. We have seen other videos from the University of California, Berkeley, showing campus police brutalizing protesters. The use of force deployed by the police against protesters is deeply troubling.... Teaching and learning can flourish only where free and open discussion is guaranteed. Education depends on respect for all members of the community. The MLA therefore insists on the importance of the right to free speech, including lawful protest, as vital to colleges and universities and exhorts higher education administrators everywhere to safeguard that right."
The Middle East Studies Association sent a letter to the University of California calling for a fully independent inquiry into the police actions and for assurances that the university will "respect, and will protect, the rights of members of the university campus to engage in peaceful protest on campus."
Oregon's Board of Higher Education voted unanimously to cut short the presidency of Richard Lariviere at the University of Oregon, despite impassioned pleas from faculty and staff members and students at a highly contentious board meeting Monday. The vote came after a week in which it became clear that the board that governs the Oregon University System had reached informal agreement not to renew Lariviere's contract when it expires next June, citing the president's perceived failure to work collaboratively with board members and the system's other colleges. Board members listened as a parade of Lariviere's supporters described his contributions to the university and criticized the board's decision; they then voted, one by one, to endorse Chancellor George Pernsteiner's recommendation that Lariviere be dismissed without cause in 30 days.
Last week, when a City University of New York board hearing was held at Baruch College, student protests of a possible tuition hike led to 15 arrests. With the board planning to meet later today, Baruch announced on Saturday that classes that were to meet in the same facility will be postponed until December 2, and that only access to the building will be granted only to those with "an urgent and legitimate need to be in the building." A message from Mitchel Wallerstein, president of the college said that "we are determined to avoid any repetition of the regrettable events that occurred" at last week's board hearing.
Rochester Institute of Technology announced Wednesday that the president of RIT Dubai, Mustafa Abushagur, is taking an eight-month leave to serve as deputy prime minister in his native Libya. Abushagur has been in exile for decades because of his opposition to the deposed government there, and was on the "most wanted" list there until the recent revolution. After helping out Libya, he plans to return to his position at RIT Dubai.
"Violin Concertom," a piece by Finnish composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen was Sunday named the 2012 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. Salonen is principal conductor and artistic advisor for the Philharmonia Orchestra of London.
The three American students who were arrested last week during protests in Egypt are now back in the United States, the Associated Press reported. Egyptian authorities accused the students of throwing firebombs from the roofs of buildings. But the students said that they never were on any rooftops, never threw anything and never harmed anyone. The three Americans were in study abroad programs at American University in Cairo. "I was not sure I was going to live," said Derrik Sweeney, a Georgetown University student, after arriving back in the United States.
The University of Georgia has found that Paul Roman, a sociologist at the university, violated anti-harassment policies, and ordered him to abide by specific rules, The Athens Banner-Herald reported. The university found that Roman made many comments of a sexual nature that made women uncomfortable in his presence, and that he retaliated against a female employee who filed a complaint against him. Roman has been ordered to hold meetings with staff members only when scheduled and with an agenda distributed in advance, barred from sending employees e-mail messages that are not strictly professional in nature, and barred from making personnel decisions on his own about employees he supervises. Roman has denied the charges, and appealed the findings, but his appeal was denied by the university's president.
Roman's title is Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology, and this year he was also named a Regents Professor, which is one of the University System of Georgia’s highest honors, and which came with a $10,000 raise.
An Illinois appeals court last week granted a stay to the University of Illinois at Chicago of the certification of a new faculty union at the institution. The university is challenging the right of the union -- which is affiliated with both the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors -- to represent both adjuncts and tenure-track faculty members. In October, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board rejected the university's argument and certified the union, but the university appealed and also asked for both a stay of union certification and expedited review of the case. University officials said that they expected a ruling on the case in the spring.