Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 3:00am

The Colorado branch of the American Association of University Professors has released a report charging that two faculty members who lost their teaching jobs were the victims of political decision-making that violates principles of academic freedom. One of them is Ward Churchill, who was fired as an ethnic studies professor after findings of research misconduct. The state AAUP found his dismissal suspect because the investigation into research misconduct followed an uproar over some of Churchill's controversial writings. The other was Phil Mitchell, who taught in a special residential program, and who the AAUP says was unpopular with some faculty members for his conservative political and religious views. A spokesman for the Boulder campus, where both men taught, said that both cases were about issues other than politics and that appropriate faculty reviews were key to the outcome of both cases.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 3:00am

Jack Conway, Kentucky's attorney general, was easily re-elected Tuesday. Conway, a Democrat who is leading a 22-state joint investigation of for-profit colleges, has become a pariah to some Kentucky for-profits, whose administrators had donated to the campaign of his challenger, Todd P'Pool. Conway received a late endorsement from Howard Dean, and withstood Sarah Palin's recent backing of his opponent. The former Senate candidate has pledged to continue his pursuit of bad actors among for-profits, which includes two active lawsuits, five open investigations and the multi-state group of attorneys general.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 3:00am

The Oregon University System will not fight the state appeals court decision that overturned its system-wide gun ban and in effect legalized concealed carry, the system announced Tuesday. The court ruled in September that the ban, which prohibited guns and other weapons from Oregon’s seven public campuses, was illegal because only the state legislature has the authority to make such a rule. The system had said at the time it would consider an appeal. “While we feel strongly that the court decision is not in the best interests of our students and campus communities, we do not want to go through a long and costly process that may produce the same outcome,” George Pernsteiner, the system’s chancellor, said in a statement Tuesday. “Instead, we have started work on internal processes that are already in place or that we can put in place that will maintain a reasonable and satisfactory level of campus safety and security. ” Those include internal conduct codes, contracts and other policies that could be expanded to “reduce the likelihood of firearms on campus to the extent legally possible,” the statement said. It is still a felony under state law to carry a firearm in a public building or adjacent grounds without a valid concealed weapons permit.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 4:29am

The board of Pennsylvania State University, struggling to respond to a growing sex-abuse scandal, vowed in a statement issued late Tuesday to take "swift, decisive action." The statement also said that trustees are "outraged by the horrifying details" emerging. "We hear those of you who feel betrayed," said the statement, which announced that the board on Friday will appoint a new committee "to determine what failures occurred, who is responsible and what measures are necessary to insure that this never happens at our University again and that those responsible are held fully accountable."

Many are calling for the ouster of everyone -- including the legendary football coach, Joe Paterno -- who knew of possible sex abuse against children and didn't do everything possible to stop it. But on Tuesday, hundreds of students -- with the crowd getting as large as 1,500 -- rallied for Paterno. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the students marched to Paterno's home, shouting "We are Penn State!" and "Hell no Joe won't go."

The Daily Collegian, the student newspaper at Penn State, published video of Paterno from Tuesday night telling the students how proud he is of them, and vowing that "we're always going to be Penn State." (UPDATE: On Wednesday, Paterno announced plans to retire at the end of the current football season.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Outrage is growing at leaders of Pennsylvania State University -- and not only at those who are facing criminal charges over allegations of the sex abuse of young boys, and of university officials lying about it (charges denied by all involved). Petitions have appeared calling for the resignation of Graham Spanier as president of the university. This Wednesday, Spanier and his wife were to be honored at a Penn State fund-raising dinner, and organizers announced Monday that the Spaniers had requested that the event be postponed in light of the events of the last week, StateCollege.com reported.

Even as officials said that Joe Paterno, the legendary football coach, was not a target of a criminal investigation, calls came for his resignation or firing. A photograph sent on Twitter shows a sign -- since removed, according to other reports -- around a statute of Paterno outside the Penn State football stadium. The sign features a line from the Penn State alma mater -- "may no act of ours bring shame."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 4:50pm

In today's Academic Minute, Melissa Libertus of Johns Hopkins University reveals that a student’s math ability may be well established before formal math education ever begins. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Federal officials on Monday froze expansion of the J-1 visa program that allows foreign college students to take summer jobs in the United States, the Associated Press reported. The freeze followed reports by the AP on complaints that many of those who come to the United States through the program have been exploited by employers.

 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Illinois on Monday released the results of an outside investigation it commissioned on false statements made by its law school about applicants' grade-point averages and test scores -- and the university pointed a finger at one person as responsible. Paul Pless, formerly assistant dean for admissions and financial aid at the law school, on the Urbana-Champaign campus, "knowingly and intentionally" miscalculated data, the report found. Pless has been on leave since an inquiry started into the statistics, and he resigned last week. The various changes Pless made in applicants' test scores and grades were designed to give the law school a better U.S. News & World Report ranking. (Pless could not be reached for comment.) The investigation found that changes Pless made took place after applicants had been evaluated, so admissions decisions were based on accurate information.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 3:00am

A medical professor at George Washington University who is alleged not to have taught classes, and simply to have awarded grades of A, has resigned, the Associated Press reported. Students complained to the university provost about the alleged lack of teaching.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 4:20am

South Korean officials announced Monday that the government is shutting down two universities -- Myungshin University and Sungwha College -- that were found to have violated the law through "serious corruption and irregularities," including embezzlement and creating fake documents, The Korea Herald reported. The government will help students current enrolled at the two institutions transfer elsewhere.

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