Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 6, 2014

With the Midwest experiencing record low temperatures (and, in some places, serious snow downfall as well), many colleges are calling off classes for today. For some institutions, students are still on break. But for others, today would have been the start of the quarter or semester, or of a January term. But many students had difficulty traveling on Sunday. A sampling of institutions announcing that they are calling off classes and most activities today: DePaul University, Michigan State University, St. Cloud Technical and Community College, University of Chicago, University of Toledo.

One college that announced it would be open today (but with flexibility for those unable to get to campus): Carleton College.


January 6, 2014

As the Modern Language Association gears up for its annual meeting this week, it is facing considerable scrutiny over a session on the push to boycott Israeli universities. Now the association is being criticized for refusing to grant a press pass to The Daily Caller, a conservative website that wanted to attend the meeting in part because of the boycott controversy. The Daily Caller published an article on the rejection, repeatedly calling the MLA "fascist" (and many other things). Further, the article questioned how the MLA could reject The Daily Caller when it has in the past granted press credentials to "pro-fascist" journalists, and the article used as its lead example Scott McLemee, a columnist for Inside Higher Ed, who has in fact attended the MLA in the past. The article was by Eric Owens, education editor of The Daily Caller.

The article complained that the MLA had not given a reason for rejecting Owens. Via email to Inside Higher Ed, Rosemary Feal, executive director of the MLA, explained the rejection this way: "The MLA provides media credentials to qualified reporters who are employees of or freelancers on assignment to locally or nationally recognized print or broadcast media outlets with a demonstrated history of reporting on academic issues. Based on that policy, we have accredited a range of media outlets with a history of serious reporting on academic issues, including several that have been critical of the MLA. In keeping with that policy we reviewed the archive of Eric Owens, the reporter who requested credentials for the MLA convention from the Daily Caller, but determined that his reporting was not of a caliber that merited free admission to the MLA convention."




January 6, 2014

Ludwig Cancer Research is today announcing six grants, of $90 million each, for cancer research centers created by an earlier gift by the philanthropy, USA Today reported. The grants will go to centers at Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Stanford University and the University of Chicago.


January 3, 2014

Following a vote by the leaders of the sociology department, the University of Colorado at Boulder says that Patricia Adler is clear to return to teaching her popular course on deviance. Adler has been warned last month that she needed to stop teaching the course because of concerns raised by administrators about a classroom exercise in which some assistant teaching assistants dressed as different types of prostitutes. The university gave a series of conflicting reasons for the concern about the course, which had been taught for years, with strong student reviews. Eventually, the university said that if Adler's course was reviewed, she could teach it again, and that review process is now complete. A spokesman for the university said: "Professor Adler is free to teach the course next semester if she so desires."

Adler currently has a lawyer talking to the university. She issued this statement: "Although it is gratifying that the Executive Committee in the Sociology Department has affirmed the Ad Hoc Committee’s decision to permit me to continue teaching a course that for 25 years has been held in high esteem with no reported complaints, the fact that it had to undergo this extraordinary scrutiny to reverse CU’s initial jump to judgment is a sad statement on what is occurring in universities. My case is just a small step in the fight to preserve academic freedom in universities around the globe. Many issues remain to be addressed in my ongoing relationship with the university, so my future is still unclear. I greatly appreciate the support I have received from students, faculty, and outside organizations."


January 3, 2014

China is moving to change the test that is generally the sole factor in university admissions, The Economist reported. Government officials have indicated that they want to add some subjective factors -- such as consideration of extracurricular activities -- to admissions decisions. Some educators are concerned that the current system (and possibly the new one) favor wealthier applicants. In the 1970s, half of students at prestigious Tsinghua University were from poor, rural areas. In 2010, that share was down to 17 percent.


January 3, 2014

A University of Sydney researcher is alleging that he may have lost out on a grant from the Australian Research Council because some government officials were concerned about his support for a boycott of Israeli universities, The Australian reported. According to the newspaper, officials of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade noted that Jake Lynch, who heads Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, vocally supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, and questioned whether giving him a grant would be bad for the agency's image. Later in the year, the government-supported research council rejected a $290,000 grant for the center to study the work of journalists in parts of Africa, and Lynch has asked a faculty union to explore whether his support for the boycott played a role. Officials at the research council said they followed their procedures.

January 3, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Micah Berman of Ohio State University explains the hidden costs an employer can expect to incur when hiring a smoker. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


January 3, 2014

A former University of Delaware student is suing the institution under Title IX and the Fourteenth Amendment after administrators allegedly mishandled her sexual assault complaint, court filings show. On campus for required student activities during an academic break and without university-provided housing, "Jane Doe" says she was pressured to sleep at a sophomore football player's apartment. The athlete raped her in the bed they shared that night, she said, and transmitted an incurable sexually transmitted disease. "We see this all the time with [athletes like John Doe]," she says a university health services employee told her, and the lawsuit notes that the football player had committed the crime multiple times before and after the alleged rape. The woman sought help from Assistant Dean of Students Monique N. Colclough, the suit says, and although Colclough said an assault had occurred, she did not share the student's rights as a victim or offer any protection or required services, nor did she notify police or any other administrators about the incident or pursue an investigation. Instead, she encouraged the student to seek medical leave, which the student eventually took, before transferring to another institution in poor academic standing, according to the suit. The university declined to comment.

January 3, 2014

The Obama administration has rescheduled a White House meeting with college leaders to discuss how to boost the success of low-income students in higher education.

The summit will now take place on Jan. 16, a White House official said Thursday. Leaders from higher education, philanthropy, business and city and state governments are expected to take part in the daylong event. As part of the event, the administration has been seeking voluntary commitments from colleges on how they plan to increase efforts to help low-income students.  

The meeting was supposed to take place last month, but it was postponed at the last minute because of President Obama’s travel to South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.

January 2, 2014

Lake Superior State University celebrates the end of every year by releasing a List of Words to be Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.

Nominations are collected throughout the year and the "winners" are announced on New Year's Eve.

Selfie was the banned word with the most nominations. One nomination of the word said: “People have taken pictures of themselves for almost as long as George Eastman's company made film and cameras. Suddenly, with the advent of smartphones, snapping a ‘pic’ of one's own image has acquired a vastly overused term that seems to pop up on almost every form of social media available to us…. A self-snapped picture need not have a name all its own beyond ‘photograph.’ It may only be a matter of time before photos of one's self and a friend will become ‘dualies.’ LSSU has an almost self-imposed duty to carry out this banishment now.”

Twerk/twerking also had many nominations. "Time to dance this one off the stage," said one nomination letter.

Hashtag also was banished. The university's release says: "We used to call it the pound symbol. Now it is seeping from the Twittersphere into everyday expression. Nearly all who nominated it found a way to use it in their entries, so we wonder if they’re really willing to let go. #goodluckwiththat"

Further, this year's list suggests ending all the words that are created by adding "aggedon" or "pocalypse" to some other word.

Other words and phrases banished by Lake Superior State this year:

  • Twittersphere
  • Mister Mom
  • T-bone
  • ____ on steroids
  • Intellectually/morally bankrupt
  • Adversity (in athletics)
  • Fan base (in athletics)




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