Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, April 9, 2012 - 3:00am

Jorge Gilbert, who formerly taught South American history and politics at Evergreen State College, was fined nearly $120,000 last year by the Washington State Executive Ethics Board for failing to account for $50,000 in student payments he received from student for a study abroad program in Chile. With that debt looming, the state attorney general's office reported last week that Gilbert has disappeared, The Olympian reported.

 

Monday, April 9, 2012 - 3:00am

Student journalists might not be as funny as they think. The latest mea culpa, from the University of Missouri at Columbia's campus newspaper editor, centers around the retitling of The Maneater's April Fool's edition as The Carpeteater.

In a lengthy statement released Friday, Editor Abby Spudich explains that she "truly did not know that 'carpet eater' is a derogatory term used for a lesbian." She also apologized for other April Fool's jokes that fell on deaf ears, including a series of vulgar references to women. The paper won't publish an April Fool's edition next year, Spudich wrote. "Our April Fool’s issue serves as a cautionary warning about the consequences of ignorance," she writes, "but I hope the actions we will take in the near future will serve as an example of how to take steps forward to promote an inclusive campus for all."

If only there had been a cautionary tale available a couple weeks ago. It's been a tough month for America's student press, as an April Fool's edition at Boston University that made light of rape led to an editor's resignation.

Monday, April 9, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Thomas Park of the University of Illinois at Chicago explains the hardy nature of the naked mole-rat and how an understanding of the odd creature could improve medical outcomes in humans. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Monday, April 9, 2012 - 3:00am

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has issued guidelines to help countries promote open access to research findings. While the guidelines are not binding on member nations, they suggest that countries take a consistent and broad approach to assuring free access to research findings. The report with the guidelines also rejects the idea that because partial access is available or even full access to some work in some countries, that these issues have been resolved. "There is a problem of accessibility to scientific information everywhere," the report says. "Levels of open access vary by discipline, and some disciplines lag behind considerably, making the effort to achieve open access even more urgent. Access problems are accentuated in developing, emerging and transition countries. There are some schemes to alleviate access problems in the poorest countries but although these provide access, they do not provide open access: they are not permanent, they provide access only to a proportion of the literature, and they do not make the literature open to all but only to specific institutions."

 

Monday, April 9, 2012 - 3:00am

Chicago State University on Friday dropped a controversial policy that required faculty members to have prior approval before talking to the press, engaging in social media or engaging in most forms of public communication, The Chicago Tribune reported. The policy -- viewed by faculty members as inappropriate and illegal -- was abandoned after the Tribune reported on it. An e-mail message sent to faculty members by the university said that the policy "had not received proper review and approval through legal counsel prior to being distributed," and so was being pulled.

 

 

Monday, April 9, 2012 - 3:00am

The law school of the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa is well respected, but generally isn't seen in the same league as some elite private law schools in places like Cambridge and New Haven. So how is it, the Associated Press asked, that every sitting Supreme Court justice has either already visited to give a talk or has agreed to do so? Based on interviews and open records requests, the AP reported that Alabama is very resourceful at identifying people to lobby on its behalf, and identifying the right kind of honoraria offers (which are typically paid to charities favored by the individual justices). Unique Alabama experiences are also part of the effort. Justice Anthony Kennedy had heard about a rib place he wanted to visit, and that was part of his trip. Justice Clarence Thomas, a big sports fan, attended an Alabama football game. And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg received an autographed copy of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Monday, April 9, 2012 - 3:00am

The Cornish College of Arts announced Friday that it was withdrawing invitations to Mike Daisey to give the commencement address and receive an honorary degree, The Seattle Times reported. Daisey, a playwright, has admitted that parts of his play about Steve Jobs, as performed on "This American Life," were inaccurate. Nancy Uscher, president of the college, issued a statement explaining the decision. "Mr. Daisey has acknowledged that he personally did not witness all the events that he said he did, and he exaggerated the level of his own experiences to journalists," she said. "Since its founding by Nellie Cornish in 1914, Cornish College of the Arts has educated and prepared students to contribute to society as artists, citizens, and innovators. One essential principle of that education is the importance of professional integrity. Because of that foundational value, Cornish will not award an honorary degree to Mr. Daisey. Cornish and Mr. Daisey have mutually agreed he will withdraw from commencement."

Friday, April 6, 2012 - 3:00am

While Mitt Romney appears to have a commanding lead in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination, Rick Santorum had been besting him in the category of higher ed-bashing. Perhaps hoping to go after Santorum fans, Romney yesterday attacked President Obama for ... having spent time at Harvard University. One possible problem is that Romney has two Harvard degrees himself (law and business) while Obama has only one (law).

 

 

 

 

Friday, April 6, 2012 - 3:00am

Although negotiated rule-making on teacher preparation programs isn't yet complete, the Education Department plans to announce another round soon on distance education fraud. Department officials said at negotiations Thursday that plans for more rule-making are underway, and higher education lobbyists said it will focus on financial aid fraud rings. The rings  use "straw students" who enroll with no intention of attending classes, usually in online courses at open-access institutions. They then apply for federal aid and split the proceeds. The fraud rings have become a growing problem as online education has boomed, but some worry that a crackdown could endanger legitimate students' access to federal aid.

Friday, April 6, 2012 - 4:24am

The board of Santa Monica College has scheduled an emergency board meeting for today to consider the fate of the college's controversial two-tiered tuition plan, The Los Angeles Times reported. The plan would charge more for some high-demand courses, and has set off student protests and concern from educators nationwide. The chancellor of the California community college system this week asked Santa Monica to hold off on the plan.

 

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