Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 2, 2015

Institutional research offices, at the campus and system levels, are facing increased pressure, but are not generally being provided with the resources they need, according to a new study by the National Association of System Heads. The report notes that IR offices were once viewed by many as assuring compliance with various regulations about submission of data. Increasingly, however, these offices are central to institutional and state efforts to track student completion, performance and other education-related metrics.

But the report expresses fears that these offices aren't receiving the full support (financial and otherwise) that they need. The field is "at best unevenly positioned to support change," the report says. Data that could be meaningful are in many cases not collected or not collected in ways that promote analysis, it adds. The overall ability of IR offices to look at data in ways appropriate to the needs of higher education is "nascent at best," the report says.

 

March 2, 2015

Barry Freundel, a Washington rabbi who last month pleaded guilty to voyeurism charges, has agreed to quit a tenured faculty position teaching religion and ethics at Towson University, The Baltimore Sun reported. Freundel pleaded guilty to secretly videotaping dozens of women as they used a Jewish ritual bath. He was suspended from Towson, with pay, after he was arrested in October.

 

March 2, 2015

The National University of Ireland at Galway has agreed to suspend asking new employees a series of health questions that were criticized as sexist by many faculty members, The Connacht Tribune reported. Among the questions: “Do you suffer with any problems with your menstrual periods? Do you suffer any breast problems? Have you ever been treated for gynecological problems?” While there was also a question about prostate conditions, the consensus was that female employees were facing much more personal and unwelcome questions. Since the newspaper reported on the questions, the university has faced considerable criticism -- and has defended the questions, saying that they are being used to promote good health. But officials changed their minds and said that they would stop asking the questions.

 

March 2, 2015

Britain's University of Westminster is facing scrutiny over whether it is a hotbed for Islamic extremism in the wake of reports that the Islamic State's British-accented killer of Western hostages is Mohammed Emwazi, an alumnus of the university. Emwazi has been called "Jihadi John" by the British press for the gruesome videos in which he beheads people ISIS has kidnapped.

The university issued a statement late last week that said: "If the allegations of terrorist activity are true, we are shocked and sickened by the news. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. We have students from 150 countries and their safety is of paramount concern. With other universities in London, we are working to implement the government’s Prevent strategy to tackle extremism."

The university also announced on Twitter that it was calling off for now a lecture called "Who Is Muhammad?" because of "increased sensitivity and security concerns." One of the featured speakers was to be Sheikh Haitham Al-Haddad, and gay and women's groups questioned why the university would host a person who has called for gay sex to be criminalized and who has spoken in favor of female genital mutilation.

March 2, 2015

Wyoming Catholic College announced last week that it will not participate in federal student aid or loan programs. The college, founded in 2005, achieved candidate status for accreditation last year, making it eligible to apply to participate in federal student aid programs. But the college's board voted not to participate, citing concerns about federal regulations that are attached to student aid programs. While many private colleges complain about federal regulations, very few opt out of aid programs. The college said it would step up fund-raising efforts so that it could offer more assistance directly to students. A statement from President Kevin Roberts said: “By abstaining from federal funding programs, we will safeguard our mission from unwarranted federal involvement — an involvement increasingly at odds with our Catholic beliefs, the content of our curriculum, and our institutional practices.”

 

March 2, 2015

In a new edition of "This Week," Inside Higher Ed's free news podcast, Stanford University's Roland Greene and the New Faculty Majority's Maria Maisto join Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik and moderator Casey Green for a conversation about the impact and implications of National Adjunct Walkout Day. And in our other segment, Jim Grossman of the American Historical Association discusses the fight over Advanced Placement U.S. history in Oklahoma and elsewhere. Sign up here to receive notification of new editions of "This Week."

 

March 2, 2015

Canada's three largest funding agencies on Friday released joint guidelines to ensure open-access publication of the research they support. Called the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications, the guidelines will require all peer-reviewed publicly funded research be made available for free online within 12 months of publication. The policy encompasses research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and will go into effect May 1.

March 2, 2015

A referendum to support the boycott of Israeli academic institutions at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, passed with a 73 percent majority. Organizers of the referendum said Friday that 2,056 total votes were cast in the school-wide referendum, which was proposed by the Students' Union and open to students, faculty, nonacademic employees, university governors and outsourced workers, such as cleaning and security staff.

SOAS has ties with Hebrew University of Jerusalem. SOAS’s media relations office did not respond to a request for comment over the weekend.

The SOAS referendum follows a series of votes by scholarly associations to support the academic boycott of Israel, including a Dec. 2013 vote by the American Studies Association. In February, members of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) approved a resolution that, while not taking a position on the merits of the boycott itself, urged the association to “provide platforms for a sustained discussion of the academic boycott and foster careful consideration of an appropriate position for MESA to assume.” 

March 2, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Ritch Savin-Williams, a psychologist at Cornell University, offers a new perspective on the sexuality spectrum. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
 

February 27, 2015

Last year, two athletes at Erskine College, a Christian institution affiliated with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, came out as gay. That news prompted antigay church members to demand that the college take action against gay people at the college. The college's board has now done so, adopting a policy saying that any sexuality that is not based on marriage (defined as between a man and a woman) is banned.

"We believe the Bible teaches that all sexual activity outside the covenant of marriage is sinful and therefore ultimately destructive to the parties involved. As a Christian academic community, and in light of our institutional mission, members of the Erskine community are expected to follow the teachings of Scripture concerning matters of human sexuality, and institutional decisions will be made in light of this position."

Outsports quoted one of the gay athletes as saying of the new policy: "It just made me sad and worried for other gay people who might be struggling with confidence to come out."

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