A tenured art professor at the University of Georgia has been terminated for allegedly having sex in a public place with a student on a study abroad program he was leading in Costa Rica, the Augusta Chronicle reported. A faculty panel had split on the appropriate sanctions for James Barsness, with two recommending revocation of tenure and three arguing for less serious sanctions, citing Barsness's strong record of teaching and research, undisclosed medical issues, and his evident remorse. But former UGA President Michael Adams overrode the panel's recommendation, writing in a May 13 letter to Barsness that “Upon review I have determined that public sex with a student under one’s direction and control in a UGA program merits termination. It is my judgment that the charges were sustained and that your employment relationship with UGA, including tenure, should be terminated as of this date.” The Board of Regents upheld Adams’s judgment at its meeting on Wednesday. Barsness could not immediately be reached for comment.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Kasetsart University has abandoned the use of hats -- in which pieces of paper attached to the head prevent students' eyes from wandering -- designed to prevent cheating, The Bangkok Post reported. Students designed the hats, but officials said that they abandoned the idea after widespread discussion of them on social media.
An Associated Press inquiry into e-mail messages by Mitch Daniels when he was governor of Indiana have revealed he was not a fan of the late historian Howard Zinn, and talked of trying to block his book from being used in schools or in teacher preparation programs. A new AP article on Sunday, based on additional e-mail messages obtained under open records laws, reveals that Daniels (now president of Purdue University) had another history book that he wanted in Indiana's schools. That book is America: The Last Best Hope, by William J. Bennett, a historian who was education secretary in the Reagan administration. E-mail messages show Daniels pushing to get the book distributed and praising it.
Courtesy of Amazon, here's the Publishers Weekly review: "Bennett, a secretary of education under President Reagan and author of The Book of Virtues, offers a new, improved history of America, one, he says, that will respark hope and a 'conviction about American greatness and purpose' in readers. He believes current offerings do not 'give Americans an opportunity to enjoy the story of their country, to take pleasure and pride in what we have done and become.' To this end, Bennett methodically hits the expected patriotic high points (Lewis & Clark, the Gettysburg Address) and even, to its credit, a few low ones (Woodrow Wilson's racism, Teddy Roosevelt's unjust dismissal of black soldiers in the Brownsville judgment). America is best suited for a high school or home-schooled audience searching for a general, conservative-minded textbook. More discerning adult readers will find that the lack of originality and the over-reliance on a restricted number of dated sources (Samuel Eliot Morison, Daniel Boorstin, Henry Steele Commager) make the book a retread of previous popular histories (such as Boorstin's The Americans). This is history put to use as inspiration rather than serving to enlighten or explain, but Bennett does succeed in shaping the material into a coherent, readable narrative."
As part of its orientation events, Ball State University picked a freshman at random and gave him the chance -- by hitting a half-court basketball shot -- of winning a semester's free tuition. Markus Burden stunned his fellow students by hitting the shot. And since he's from out of state, the free semester's tuition is worth $11,084. The Indianapolis Star has the details.
A new study by HSBC compares what international students pay, in U.S. dollar equivalents, at the largest institutions in various countries. Using this method, Australia is the most expensive, with an average cost (including living expenses) of $38,516. The U.S. is the second most expensive, at $35,705, followed by Britain at $30,325. Of the countries examined, Germany was the least expensive, at $6,285.
Under pressure from officials at historically black colleges and other institutions that serve large numbers of students from low-income backgrounds, the U.S. Education Department has announced that it will weigh appeals that may allow more families to qualify for federal loans for parents, the Associated Press reported. Changes made in 2011 to the underwriting standards for PLUS loans led to a spike in denials for families that had taken on debt because of the economic downturn, and the changes disproportionately affected students at HBCUs. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), had urged the Education Department to reconsider the underwriting standards.
In a letter sent to the Fudge on Tuesday, department officials said they would review their definitions in negotiations over federal rules for loan programs set to begin next spring, and would in the short term consider appeals from those who had been denied PLUS loans.
The presidents of 165 universities in July issued a joint letter calling on President Obama and Congress to adopt policies to promote research and to deal with an "innovation deficit" created by inadequate support for investments in science and technology. The letter -- organized by the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities -- was part of an effort by those organizations and many universities to encourage more support for federal research and technology programs. Some faculty members at Purdue University, which is strong in science and technology and where many programs rely on federal support, noticed that their president didn't sign the letter, The Journal and Courier reported. Mitch Daniels, the president, released a statement to the newspaper explaining why he didn't sign: "I have been and will continue to be an advocate of major federal investments in research, particularly basic research," Daniels said. "I will say nothing negative about this letter, but, like many other presidents, I abstained from signing it, in my case, because of its complete omission of any recognition of the severe fiscal condition in which the nation finds itself."
A Minnesota jury has ordered Globe University, a for-profit institution, to pay $400,000 to Heidi Weber, who said she was fired for accusing the institution of using false and misleading job placement statistics, The Star Tribune reported. Weber sued under a Minnesota law designed to protect whistle-blowers. Globe said that she was dismissed for legitimate reasons.
Pennsylvania's Clarion University, citing state budget cuts, on Thursday announced plans to dismantle the College of Education and to eliminate 40 jobs, 22 of them faculty positions, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Some of the education programs will be relocated and some of the savings will be used to strengthen departments such as nursing. Elizabeth MacDaniel, chair of the English department and president of the campus chapter of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, predicted this campus reaction: "People are going to be angry. It's going to be horrible."