Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 3:00am

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which does significant work on California's community colleges, open educational resources, and other higher education realms, named a new president on Wednesday. And like his predecessor, Larry Kramer is the dean of Stanford University's law school. Kramer succeeds Paul Brest, its president since 2004. As dean at Stanford, Kramer was credited with creating or expanding law centers dedicated to social justice, public service, and international legal training and prodding law students to expand their study of other disciplines.

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Stacey Robertson of Bradley University explains how many of the tactics used by 19th-century abolitionists have been adapted and employed by those seeking to eradicate modern forms of slavery. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 3:00am

Three coaches of teams in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I men's basketball tournament are earning more than $4 million this year, three more earn more than $3 million, and 16 in all are paid more than $2 million, according to a database of coaches' pay published Wednesday by USA Today. The database, which includes information on most of the 68 teams participating in the tournament (except for those at several universities that declined to release the information), is accompanied by articles exploring the issues raised by the coaches' salaries, including how their institutions afford them and the disadvantage that less-wealthy colleges are at in the competition for top coaches.

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 4:23am

Two band faculty members at Florida A&M University were present during hazing of pledges who wanted to join an honorary band fraternity, several students have told authorities, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The hazing allegedly took place at the home of Diron Holloway, a FAMU professor who is director of the marching band's saxophone section, and involved paddling. Holloway and the other faculty member, Anthony Simons, a music professor, could not be reached for comment. The police report detailing the allegations is the latest development in the investigation of a student death last year that appears to be hazing-related. The university has maintained that it has long had a "no tolerance" approach to hazing, a stance undercut by the report of faculty involvement. The report was released Wednesday and both Holloway and Simmons were then placed on leave by the university, The Tallahassee Democrat reported.

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 4:26am

The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies plan to announce today a major new research program focused on big data computing, The New York Times reported. The agencies will pledge $200 million for the effort.

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 3:00am

UPDATE: After initially backing the cartoonist, Stephanie Eisner, The Daily Texan editorial board apologized Wednesday for a "failure of judgment" in deciding to run the cartoon. The statement said Eisner no longer works for the Texan.

A student cartoonist apologized for a piece about Trayvon Martin's death that prompted allegations of racism when it was published in a campus newspaper. Stephanie Eisner, a junior at the University of Texas at Austin and political cartoonist for The Daily Texan, expressed regret for the cartoon, which said a “big bad white man killed the handsome, sweet, innocent colored boy.” Eisner was referring to the February killing of Martin, 17, by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Martin was black. The shooter, George Zimmerman, has white and Latino parents. Zimmerman hasn't been charged with a crime.

The president of the university's Black Student Alliance called Eisner's cartoon inappropriate. Angry readers flooded the student paper with angry comments and letters to the editor. Eisner said she had good intentions, but failed to constructively comment on news reports about Martin's killing. "I apologize for what was in hindsight an ambiguous cartoon related to the Trayvon Martin shooting," Eisner wrote in a Wednesday e-mail to Inside Higher Ed. "I intended to contribute thoughtful commentary on the media coverage of the incident, however this goal fell flat. I would like to make it explicitly clear that I am not a racist, and that I am personally appalled by the killing of Trayvon Martin. I regret any pain the wording or message of my cartoon may have caused."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Illinois at Chicago and a faculty union seeking to be recognized have been fighting over whether a single unit can represent both tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty (as the union wants) or whether separate unions are needed (as the university wants). The union is now proposing that the university recognize two unions, but that may not happen either -- at least right now. Last week, an Illinois appeals court ruled that state law bars a single union for the faculty groups. Throughout the dispute, the university has said it would not object to two unions, and on Tuesday the union proposed just that. It stated that it would not appeal the court ruling, but asked the university to "voluntarily" negotiate with two faculty unions -- even though the only official filing of petitions has been on behalf of a single union.

"We take this step because, like you, we are concerned about the deteriorating relations between the faculty and the administration. Although the appeal process so far has only worsened those relations, we recognize and applaud the board’s acknowledgement that there is a problem," says the letter from UIC United Faculty, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors. "In urging you to begin negotiations with us as two bargaining units, we are, of course, only asking you to do what you have consistently said you wanted to do..... We ourselves are not convinced that two separate units is the best way to foster a better relationship between the faculty and the administration but, like the administration, we are very eager to make that relationship better....  If you will join us -- on your terms -- at the bargaining table, the turnaround can begin today."

The university indicated, however, that it may insist on the two unions starting from scratch obtaining signatures on petitions. A spokesman said via e-mail: "As a general policy and practice, the university does not voluntarily recognize unions as 'exclusive representatives' for collective bargaining on behalf of groups of employees. Majority interest is determined either by the union prevailing in a secret ballot election, or by investigation and certification by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board that the union has obtained authorization cards signed by a majority of employees in the bargaining unit."

Union leaders said that the university's response raised doubts about its earlier statements about being open to two unions. But the union has collected petitions for two unions and is prepared to go ahead one way or another, they said.

 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, David Clark of Alma College reveals deceptive behavior found in male wolf spiders. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 3:00am

The Asian University for Women was founded in 2008, in Bangladesh, with high hopes of providing a liberal arts education to women from that country and elsewhere in the region. While the university attracted many prominent backers in the United States, it has been hit over the last week by a series of articles in Bangladesh about the departure of senior leaders, delayed fund-raising and the failure to create an independent board, The Wall Street Journal reported. Jack R. Meyer, chair of the board of the university's fund-raising foundation, posted a letter on the university's website, in which he said that much of the criticism was valid, but reflected problems on which the university was working and that it had in many cases solved. He said that the university is making strong progress, and asked for critics to stop sending anonymous letters to donors, discouraging gifts.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 4:24am

A student at Indiana University at Bloomington is receiving rabies shots after a rabid bat bit him while he slept in a dormitory, the Associated Press reported. The student's roommate is also receiving the shots.

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