Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 5, 2013

Queen's University in Canada is apologizing for having asked a student to remove his underwear art from an exhibit to be presented to donors, The Toronto Star reported. David Woodward, the student, was among those asked to participate, but organizers asked him to take down his art when they saw it. The work he was to have presented, "All I Am Is What I've Felt," consists of images and words written on white men's briefs. He said that he considers the work to be about gender, sexuality and intimacy. The underwear art (tame in comparison to student art that has caused controversy elsewhere) may be viewed here.

June 5, 2013

Coalitions of librarians and colleges and universities filed friend of the court briefs Tuesday supporting the HathiTrust in a lawsuit in which authors' groups charge that the digital repository is violating their copyright in making some of their works freely available. The briefs were filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which is considering an appeal of a federal judge's ruling last October that sided overwhelmingly with the trust and the universities (Michigan, California and Wisconsin, and Indiana) that created it. In their brief urging the Second Circuit to uphold the lower court, the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries argue that a ruling for the Authors' Guild and the others challenging the HathiTrust would "prevent libraries from performing some of their most basic functions, from film preservation to Internet access." And the brief filed by the American Council on Education, several other major groups of college presidents, and Educause vigorously defends the doctrine of "fair use" that they say the plaintiffs challenging HathiTrust would undermine.

The Authors Guild is scheduled to reply to these briefs within a month.

June 5, 2013

An explosion took place just before noon Tuesday at a building at Nyack College's Rockland County campus. College officials said that five employees and two students were in the building at the time. While there were injuries, there were no fatalities. Authorities are trying to determine the cause of the explosion.

June 5, 2013

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday says that Lone Star College's system for electing its Board of Trustees discriminates against minority citizens, The Houston Chronicle reported. Lone Star has at-large elections where the entire community college district's area is used to elect all board members for the community college system. The suit argues that no Hispanic trustees and very few black trustees have ever been elected, even though 30 percent of the district population is Latino and 16 percent is black. Subdividing the system district into areas would probably result in a more diverse board, the suit says. Lone Star officials said that they had not been formally served with papers, and could not comment on the suit.

 

June 4, 2013

Robert Barchi, president of Rutgers University, is facing considerable criticism for appointing an athletics director who was accused, earlier in her career, of being verbally abusive to athletes she was coaching. Now, The New York Times reported that Barchi appointed a chief of staff this year -- in the midst of the university's athletic scandals -- who was sued by four long-time Rutgers employees for age discrimination. Barchi was aware of the lawsuit when he promoted the chief of staff, Gregory S. Jackson. Rutgers, which was also sued, and Jackson have denied the charges in the suit.

June 4, 2013

The State Board of Higher Education in North Dakota voted Monday to buy out the contract of Hamid Shirvani, the system chancellor, The Bismarck Tribune reported. Shirvani has faced a series of conflicts in the state in which various campus and political officials have questioned his managerial style. He has maintained that he was hired to push a reform agenda, knowing that some would disagree. He said that he respected the board's decision, and that he had asked board members to either issue a strong show of support or to “please just buy out my contract and thank you very much."

June 4, 2013

A pilot partnership between San Jose State University and Udacity, the Silicon Valley-based ed tech company, revealed some hidden costs of online education, The Oakland Tribune reports

"I get this call from San Jose State: 'Uh, we have a problem,'" recalled Mark Ryan, superintendent of a charter school in Oakland that was taking part in the project to offer for-credit online classes to students, including high school students. According to the newspaper, "It turned out some of the low-income teens didn't have computers and high-speed Internet connections at home that the online course required. Many needed personal attention to make it through. The final results aren't in yet, but the experiment exposed some challenges to the promise of a low-cost online education. And it showed there is still a divide between technology-driven educators and the low-income, first-generation college hopefuls they are trying to reach."

Udacity just signed a major deal with the Georgia Institute of Technology to offer a low-cost professional master's degree courses to 10,000 students at once.

June 4, 2013

Gordon Gee announced Tuesday afternoon that he is retiring as president of Ohio State University. His announcement did not reference the recent uproar over his comments about Roman Catholics, other universities and the Big 10. But he is leaving quickly -- retiring on July 1.

In a statement, Gee said: "I recently returned from a vacation with my family, during which time I had a chance to consider the university’s phenomenal achievements and the road that lies ahead for it. Ohio State now has a richness of new opportunities that would be the envy of most universities. During my days away, I also spent some time in self-reflection. And after much deliberation, I have decided it is now time for me to turn over the reins of leadership to allow the seeds that we have planted to grow. It is also time for me to reenergize and refocus myself."

Gee has been president twice at Ohio State -- from 1990-97 and from 2007 until now. In between those presidencies, he was president of Brown University and chancellor of Vanderbilt University. Prior to his first Ohio State presidency, he was president of West Virginia University and the University of Colorado.

 

 

June 4, 2013

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a lower court's decision siding with a medical corporation in a patent fight with the University of Minnesota over ownership of medical devices for fixing heart defects. In its ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected claims by the university that AGA Medical Corp. had infringed on patents owned by Minnesota researchers for septal occluders, devices used to block holes in the wall separating the heart's two chambers. The appeals panel upheld a lower court's decision declaring summary judgment for the company.

June 4, 2013

Syracuse University announced Monday that it will bring its 20 students in Istanbul, scheduled to return on Sunday, back on Wednesday instead, in light of the unrest in Turkey. Other universities preparing for summer programs in Istanbul have been monitoring the situation there.

The Hürriyet Daily News, meanwhile, reported that some universities in Turkey are postponing final exams because of the protests.

 

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