Higher Education Quick Takes
The American Public University System, which consists of the Charles Town, W.Va.-based American Public University and American Military University, announced on Thursday it will allow its students to earn academic credit by taking massive open online courses. The 10 science, technology and mathematics courses -- five each from MOOC providers Coursera and Udacity -- have received credit recommendations from the American Council on Education. In a statement, the university said it may expand its offerings and incorporate more MOOC providers in the future.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association this week filed a motion to dismiss O’Bannon v. NCAA, the federal antitrust lawsuit currently seeking class action status. The suit argues that the NCAA and other private businesses profit off the likenesses of athletes who are prohibited from making any money off their own image, and that athletes are entitled to a share of the profits.
Because of lack of precedent, it’s unclear how the O’Bannon case might affect collegiate athletics, but some have speculated it could be huge. The NCAA decided in July to end its football video game contract with Electronic Arts Inc., which is facing a few other lawsuits by former athletes charging that EA profits off their likenesses.
WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress on Thursday honored scientists whose seemingly obscure discoveries -- much like those that are sometimes ridiculed in the Capitol today -- actually ended up making important contributions to society, as part of the second annual Golden Goose Awards. This year's honorees for the award, which is sponsored by a set of higher education and scientific advocacy groups, included two Nobel-winning economists whose theoretical mathematical algorithms helped set the stage for the national kidney exchange, and a medical researcher whose study of the Gila monster's venom led to a drug that protects diabetics from some life-threatening complications.
The University of Oregon’s new faculty union reached its first contract agreement with the institution this week, following 10 months of negotiations.
In addition to an average salary increase of nearly 12 percent spanning the 2-year agreement and the creation of a salary floor for adjuncts, union members said the contract protects both academic freedom and freedom of speech. The union and the administration had clashed over language concerning such protections in negotiations, with the administration wanting to address each protection in separate clauses and include expectations of “civility.” Faculty involved in negotiations said divorcing academic freedom from freedom of speech could leave faculty who spoke out against the university vulnerable to potential punitive action. They also objected to the civility expectation.
The final contract’s statement on speech protections does address free speech and academic freedom separately, but explicitly grants faculty the right to engage in internal criticism -- something an earlier university counterproposal did not. It does not include expectations of civility.
Deborah Olson, a full-time adjunct instructor of special education who served on the bargaining committee for United Academics, which is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, said administrators “moved considerably on those positions from their first proposal, so for the first time at the table we’re very happy.”
Tim Gleason, dean of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication and a member of the institutional bargaining team, said it never tried to limit academic freedom for faculty, and that language in earlier proposals reflected the university’s attempts to protect both robustly. “That’s what we do at Oregon,” he said.
Bill Harbaugh, a professor economics who blogged from negotiations from a faculty perspective, said he felt the final agreement didn’t go far enough. Language proposed last year by the Faculty Senate, which is still being reviewed by senate leaders and administrators and expressly guarantees faculty’s right to engage in internal criticism “without fear of institutional discipline or restraint,” would have been better, he said.
The Yosemite Community College District is investigating why a student at Modesto Junior College was blocked from passing out copies of the Constitution on campus on Tuesday, which was Constitution Day, The Modesto Bee reported. A video of campus security stopping the student has circulated online, provoking criticism. A statement from the college said that passing out copies of the Constitution where the student did so was permitted "as long as they don’t disrupt the orderly operation of the college," and that "n the case of the YouTube video, it did not appear that the student was disrupting the orderly operation of the college."
Jerry C. Lee, who over 24 years at National University built a growing system of nonprofit colleges serving adults, is retiring. Lee was president of National University from 1989 to 2007 and has since 2001 been chancellor of the evolving National University System, which in recent years has added John F. Kennedy University and City University of Seattle to its stable of work-force-oriented institutions.
Harvard University is set to announce a major fund-raising campaign on Saturday, ending years of speculation about when the campaign would go public, and how much it would seek. Bloomberg reported. The figure of $6 billion, about which there was speculation several years ago, would no longer be record-setting, since Stanford University completed a $6.2 billion campaign last year and the University of Southern California is in a $6 billion campaign. A hint of the potential size of the campaign, as reported in Harvard Magazine, is speculation that the goal for the business school alone could reach $1 billion.
Occidental College has settled lawsuits filed by at least 10 current or former students who sued over the institution's handling of complaints they brought about sexual assaults, The Los Angeles Times reported. Details were not available, but reportedly include payments to the plaintiffs and a pledge on their part not to discuss their cases.