Higher Education Quick Takes
Parents are encouraging the growth of programs in China that enroll prodigies in universities many years before traditional college age, China Daily reported. Zhang Xinyang currently holds the record for youngest college student. He was 10 when he enrolled and is now, at 16, pursuing a doctorate in mathematics at Beihang University. About 1,400 high school students applied this year for just over 100 slots in a program for gifted youths at Xi'an Jiaotong University. The number of applicants has been increasing by 200 to 300 annually in recent years. The University of Science and Technology of China receives about 3,000 applications for the School of the Gifted Young each year, admitting only about 50 a year.
A plane crash Thursday night killed Kurt Budke, the women's basketball coach at Oklahoma State University, and the assistant women’s basketball coach, Miranda Serna. The crash took place in Arkansas, where they were on a recruiting trip.
The Universities of Cambridge and Toronto have just announced fund-raising records for universities in Europe and Canada, respectively.
Cambridge announced that its fund-raising campaign in honor of the university's 800th anniversary has raised £1.17 (or about $2 billion), more than any European university has ever raised.
Less than two months ago, the University of British Columbia announced a $1.5 billion fund-raising campaign, at the time the largest such effort in Canada. Now the University of Toronto has that record, having launched a $2 billion campaign. Toronto has raised $966 million in the quiet phase of the fund-raising effort.
The best give-aways at the book exhibit of the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association this year -- to judge by how many people were wearing them -- were two buttons distributed by Oxford University Press. The buttons were a reply to Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican who has angered many anthropologists by saying that Florida doesn't need any more of them. One button reads "Florida Anthropologists: We Support You." The other says: "Actually Rick, Florida could use a few more anthropologists."
The Utah Board of Regents on Friday voted to require all public colleges to have systems in place for period post-tenure reviews of faculty members, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The new policy responds to complaints from some legislators who have sought to ban tenure.
Among new developments and articles of note on the Pennsylvania State University scandal:
- Rodney Erickson, who was named interim president last week when Graham Spanier stepped down, is no longer interim. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the board has removed the word "interim" from his title, and no longer plans to conduct a national search for a replacement for Spanier. A spokeswoman said: "Under normal circumstances a national search would be conducted over a period of a year or more, with the help of an executive search committee. Under our current situation, which is obviously unprecedented, the board has taken the action to name the president who they believe will lead us forward."
- Michael Bérubé, the Paterno Family Professor in Literature and director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Penn State, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times about Joe Paterno's contributions to academic advances at the university (including creation of the chair Bérubé holds) and the need for a greater faculty role in decision-making such that "shared governance" becomes meaningful at the institution.
- The National Collegiate Athletic Association told Penn State officials last week that it would investigate whether the sex abuse scandal indicates a failure by the university to exercise "institutional control" over the sports program. While allegations of sexual abuse of children might seem outside the NCAA's normal purview of academic dishonesty and improper payments to players, Mark Emmert, the NCAA's president, noted in a letter to Erickson that the NCAA's rulebook contains a broad prohibition against unethical conduct, and cited a specific provision that campus officials must do more than just "avoid improper conduct or questionable acts." They have an "affirmative" obligation, too, the rulebook states; "[t]heir own moral values must be so certain and positive that those younger and more pliable will be influenced by a fine example."
At least seven additional people are expected to turn themselves in in a Long Island scandal in which some people are accused of paying others to take the SAT or ACT for them, The New York Times reported. An additional round of arrests in September sparked considerable debate about the adequacy of test-taking security.
The University of Missouri is considering a policy under which students at the system's campuses would be required to obtain written permission from professors before taping their classes, the Associated Press reported. The possible rules follow incidents in the spring in which a conservative blogger posted selected excerpts of two faculty members' lectures in a labor program -- and said that those excerpts showed that the instructors were condoning or encouraging violence as a union tactic. (The instructors said that their comments were taken out of context.) Steve Graham, senior associate vice president for academic affairs for the Missouri system, said the proposed policy "protects the sanctity of the classroom for our students so they can freely discuss their thoughts and opinions."
Student leaders in Colombia have called off a month-long boycott of classes, the Associated Press reported. The students agreed to end their protest after the government agreed to withdraw an education reform plan. The government said that the plan was designed to provide public universities with more autonomy, but the students said it was designed to privatize public higher education.