Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 25, 2013

Israel's High Court of Justice on Tuesday upheld the decision of government authorities to upgrade a higher education campus on the West Bank to full status as an Israeli university, The Jerusalem Post reported. The presidents of the nation's other universities objected to the procedures used to upgrade Ariel University, as the institution is known, and the court rejected those arguments, saying that proper procedures had been followed. A major objection the university leaders (but not the focus of the legal fight) is their view that the country does not have enough money to support a new university. Ariel has been championed by those who support Israeli settlements on the West Bank. Many Israeli academics have opposed the granting of university status, saying that it is wrong to build up Israeli institutions on the West Bank, and that doing so will likely encourage the movement in other countries to boycott Israeli academe.

 

December 25, 2013

The arrest of a university vice president in China was announced Wednesday in the latest sign that higher education has become a new target of the government's anti-corruption campaign, Reuters reported. The official arrested was Chu Jian, vice president of Zhejiang University. He was charged with "suspected economic problems," which Reuters said is a term used for corruption. He could not be reached for comment. A week ago, an investigation was announced into the work of a vice president of Sichuan University, and officials have also said that they are investigating the official in charge of admissions at Renmin University.

 

December 24, 2013

The University of North Florida has decided not to appeal a Florida appeals court ruling that said public universities could not ban guns from cars parked on campus, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The decision came in a suit challenging North Florida's rules against guns in parked cars on campus, but the decision also raised questions about the legal right of public colleges and universities in the state to regulate guns in many cases. The University of North Florida, in saying that it would not appeal the decision, said it would drop its rule on guns in cars on campus. Florida Carry, a gun-rights group, announced that it would sue any public university that does not make similar changes.

 

December 24, 2013

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that it had found that Dong-Pyou Han, until recently an assistant professor at Iowa State University, falsified results of research he was conducting on a vaccine that could be used to prevent the spread of HIV. The agency found him to have engaged in "intentional spiking" of lab samples, and concluded that the results of these samples prompted considerable interest in the research involved -- including the awarding of more research grants. Han apparently added human blood to samples that were supposed to be rabbit blood, and the additional blood skewed the results, The Des Moines Register reported. HHS said that Han had admitted his actions. The Register reported that he had resigned from Iowa State and that he could not be reached for comment.

December 23, 2013

New projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics predict that 30 professions will be the fastest growing from 2012 to 2022 -- and two of the professions are in higher education. They are health specialties instructors (projected to increase by 36.1 percent) and nursing instructors (projected to increase by 35.4 percent). Among all professions, the number of jobs is expected to increase by 10.8 percent. Many colleges and universities already struggle to fill nursing professor jobs.

 

 

December 23, 2013

A third university has announced it will withdraw from the American Studies Association in the aftermath of a vote by the organization to back a boycott of Israeli universities. A growing number of presidents have condemned the boycott, but Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie went a step further and said the university would immediately contact the ASA to withdraw as an institutional member

"Boycotts such as these have a profound chilling effect on academic freedom, and universities must be clear and unequivocal in rejecting them," McRobbie said in a statement.

Higher education organizations that have condemned the boycott include the Association of American Universities, the Association for Jewish Studies and the American Association of University Professors. Two other universities, Brandeis University and Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg, have also announced plans to end their institutional membership in the ASA. 

December 23, 2013

Adjunct faculty members at Whittier College have voted to unionize and to be represented by the Service Employees International Union. SEIU is currently trying to organize adjuncts in various regions, and Whittier's vote comes as the union has drives going on at such Southern California institutions as Loyola Marymount University and the University of La Verne. The union has pledged to see better wages, benefits and job security for the adjuncts. Sharon Herzberger, president of Whittier, issued this statement: "We appreciate the contribution that our adjunct faculty makes to our institution. Upon request, Whittier College will meet with SEIU and attempt to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that meets the needs of both Whittier College and its adjunct faculty."

December 20, 2013

Leaders of the Association of American Universities and the Association for Jewish Studies on Friday condemned academic boycotts -- a topic in the news due to the vote by the American Studies Association to boycott Israeli universities.

"The Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities strongly opposes a boycott of Israeli academic institutions," said a statement from the AAU. "Three U.S. scholarly organizations have now expressed support for such a boycott.  Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general." The statement continued: "Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom.  Restrictions imposed on the ability of scholars of any particular country to work with their fellow academics in other countries, participate in meetings and organizations, or otherwise carry out their scholarly activities violate academic freedom.  The boycott of Israeli academic institutions therefore clearly violates the academic freedom not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with it.  We urge American scholars and scholars around the world who believe in academic freedom to oppose this and other such academic boycotts."

The board of the Association for Jewish Studies released a resolution it adopted that said in part: "In view of the association’s longstanding commitment to the free exchange of ideas, we oppose academic boycotts. On the same grounds, we recommend that other academic associations oppose academic boycotts. We urge that they seek alternative means, less inimical to the principle of academic freedom, to pursue their concerns. We especially oppose selective academic boycotts that entail an ideological litmus test. We understand that such selective boycotts may be intended to preserve academic exchange with those more open to the views of boycott proponents, but we cannot endorse the use of political or religious views as a test of eligibility for participation in the academic community."

 

December 20, 2013

The London School of Economics and Political Science has apologized to two students who, at an event for new students, were told that they had to cover up their T-shirts depicting Mohammed and Jesus, Times Higher Education reported. At the time, the students were staffing a table of the Atheist Secularist and Humanist Society at the university, and officials said that their attire could be seen as harassment of Muslims. Now, however, officials say that they realize that the T-shirts did not violate any university rules and so the students should not have been told to cover up what they were wearing.

 

December 20, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Sujay Kaushal of the University of Maryland reveals how acid rain has made rivers and streams less acidic. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

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