Higher Education Quick Takes
Many medical faculty members at McGill University are protesting plans to shift the medical school curriculum from a research orientation to a focus on family medicine, The Montreal Gazette reported. The government of Quebec is strongly encouraging the shift, and supporters of the plan said that it will produce physicians who are needed by various communities. But professors say that McGill has traditionally played a key role in producing the physicians who also conduct high-level research, and that this mission is being gutted.
Faculty members in Emory University's College of Arts and Sciences have rejected, by a vote of 201 to 133, a vote of no confidence in President James W. Wagner. The arts and sciences professors make up about 20 percent of the university faculty -- and are the only group to hold a vote of no confidence. Over the last year, Emory's decision to end some academic programs frustrated many professors, particularly in the humanities. Opposition grew in February, when Wagner's column in the alumni magazine offered as a model for compromise the three-fifths compromise, in which Northern and Southern politicians creating the U.S. Constitution agreed to count each slave in the South as three-fifths of a person for purposes of taxation and Congressional representation. While Wagner apologized for using the example, many people at Emory were stunned that he could be unaware that many people view the compromise as a particularly ugly and racist moment in U.S. history.
After the vote, the university released a statement from the Board of Trustees saying that "The Emory University Board of Trustees extends its strong and undivided support to President James W. Wagner."
A statement from Wagner said: “I respect the views of all of our faculty and their right to express concern about the leadership and direction of our institution, and I take to heart the significance of this vote. Faculty governance and faculty responsibility for the future of Emory University are essential. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the administration and with the faculty to carry out the mission of this great institution. I have listened closely to constituents from across the university, and I look forward to sharing what I have learned and to working with all members of our community to move Emory forward. Together we have accomplished much, and in partnership with all of our community members, Emory will do much more.”
A new study has found widespread abuse -- psychological, physical and sexual -- of graduate students in biological anthropology when they work in the field. Women are much more likely to report abuse than are men, and those abused are more likely to identify men as those abusing them, but the study also found male victims and female harassers. The findings were presented at the 2013 meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropology.
Swiss universities -- with high quality and low tuition rates -- are enrolling larger proportions of foreign students, Swiss Broadcasting Corporation reported. In 1990, foreign enrollments made up 23 percent of the Swiss student body. Today that figure is 38 percent. While educators are proud of the quality of students being attracted, some officials question whether the country can afford to educate so many people from elsewhere.
Authorities have charged Lei Wu, an assistant professor of software engineering at the University of Houston - Clear Lake, with making a "terroristic threat" based on statements he made to a colleague, The Houston Chronicle reported. Wu allegedly told a faculty colleague -- who recorded the conversation -- that there will "be blood" if he is not awarded tenure.
In response to an e-mail from Inside Higher Ed asking about the charges, Wu said: "Truth will come out soon. By then you will see. Justice will prevail."
The European University Association has released a new analysis of the state of global university rankings. Various evaluation systems continue to proliferate and existing ones refine their methodologies, the report says. But some things do not change. The study notes "biases and flaws" that favor elite universities. Further, the report says that most rankings -- which tend to focus on research - "still not able to do justice to research carried out in the area of arts, humanities and social sciences."
RMIT University, in Melbourne, is attracting criticism for its decision to reject all applications from Iranian and Syrian students because of government sanctions, The Courier-Mail reported. However, a spokesperson from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said there are no blanket bans that would prevent the admission of students from these countries.
Benjamin Carson. a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University, has withdrawn as the graduation speaker for the ceremonies this year at the Hopkins School of Medicine and the School of Education. Some students have been pushing for him to be replaced as a speaker because of statements he made about gay people. Asked by Fox News about gay marriage, he said, "Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition."
A statement from the university said that "Dr. Carson's decision to withdraw was his and his alone. He was not asked by either school to do so. He told the deans of the two schools that he was withdrawing to avoid distracting attention from the graduates."