Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 2, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Michele Markstein, a biologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, explores the use of fruit flies in improving chemotherapy treatment in the hope of fighting cancer. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

January 30, 2015

The head of the University of Wisconsin System defended faculty from state Governor Scott Walker's suggestion that professors should teach more classes to save money as part of a Walker-backed $300 million budget cut.

Faculty are like state lawmakers, system President Ray Cross said in a radio interview, "if all we think they do is what we see them do when both chambers are in session. They only work a few months at best a year. That's not any different than faculty. Faculty on average are working 50 to 60 hours a week."

Cross said he's "frustrated over" Walker's comments. "We need to appreciate [faculty] more because it's on the backs of the best and the brightest that we're going to solve some of the problems we have in this country and in this state," Cross said.

Cross released a statement this week supporting the newfound independence Walker is offering the system to go along with the cuts, which are likely to result in faculty and staff layoffs. Cross also suggested this week that universities can cope with the proposed cuts by raising tuition on students.

January 30, 2015

Chinese authorities are vowing to eliminate textbooks with "Western values" from universities, AFP reported. "Never let textbooks promoting Western values appear in our classes," Education Minister Yuan Guiren told the official Xinhua news agency. He added that "remarks that slander the leadership of the Communist Party of China" and "smear socialism" must never be permitted in classrooms.


January 30, 2015

An apparent norovirus has hit about 300 students at Hampden-Sydney College, forcing the college to shut down classes Thursday and today, and to call off a basketball game scheduled for Saturday, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Classes are scheduled to resume Monday. The college has 1,052 students so a significant share of students have been afflicted. While the virus passes relatively quickly, it can be extremely uncomfortable and students can become severely dehydrated.


January 30, 2015

Portions of the University of Washington's Web site were hacked Thursday, replaced with a photo of a memorial to soldiers and a threat against Americans serving in Iraq, The Seattle Times reported. University officials are investigating the incident.


January 30, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, David Zweig, an associate professor of organizational behavior at the University of Toronto at Scarborough, discusses his work on the effects of knowledge hiding. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


January 29, 2015

Governor Scott Walker, a Wisconsin Republican, wants faculty members at University of Wisconsin campuses to teach more. Walker spoke to reporters Wednesday, the day after formally proposing $300 million in cuts to the university system, in exchange for autonomy that university leaders won't lead to saving anywhere near large enough to make up for the cuts. The Wisconsin State Journal reported that the governor told reporters Wednesday that his plan for the universities would “make them do things that they have not traditionally done.” The governor explained: “They might be able to make savings just by asking faculty and staff to consider teaching one more class per semester.... Things like that could have a tremendous impact on making sure that we preserve an affordable education for all of our UW campuses, and at the same time we maintain a high-quality education.”

University officials questioned whether this is feasible. Vince Sweeney, vice chancellor for university relations at the UW flagship at Madison, said that survey data show most faculty members work 50 to 70 hours a week on teaching, research and other activities. He noted that the research efforts of professors "bring in millions of dollars in grant funding that is a direct boost to the Wisconsin economy."



January 29, 2015

The board of the College of DuPage on Wednesday voted for the second time in a week to approve a $763,000 severance package for President Robert Breuder, The Chicago Tribune reported. Many critics, some of whom packed the board room, said that Breuder should be dismissed, and many called on board members to quit. Trustees noted that Breuder had a valid contract that the college was buying out. The second vote came after criticism that the first one did not follow proper procedure because there was not a vote to end debate before the board took a vote on the package. While college leaders expressed doubt about the criticism, they said that they wanted to take a second vote to be sure that everything was done properly.


January 29, 2015

A Norfolk State University student was hospitalized Sunday after she was attacked by a Norfolk Police dog while leaving a party near campus. London Colvin, who is a junior at Norfolk State and a private in the Army Reserve, received 40 stitches after the encounter and will require plastic surgery to close a gaping gash on her leg, according to the Potomac Local. Colvin was attacked by the dog while being arrested during a large fight outside the party.

The student's cousin told the newspaper that Colvin was not involved in the fight, but that she was being loud and disorderly while walking away from the scene. "We can understand her getting arrested, because she was being disorderly, however, she didn’t have a weapon," the cousin said. "She can’t put her hands up, or remove her hands from anywhere, or do anything because she’s being restrained by two police officers. So to allow the dog [to attack] is the only thing that we have a problem with."

Daniel Hudson, a spokesman for the Norfolk police, said officers often use canine units during incidents involving large crowds and that the fight involved about 35 people. “There was an officer that was attempting to place the woman in custody for disorderly conduct," Hudson said. "When [the officer] tried to place her in custody, she became combative against the officer. Another officer attempted to restrain her, but again, there were multiple people around, so the canine officer deployed the dog to restrain the woman so nobody would get hurt."

January 29, 2015

Virgin America, not to be outdone by fellow low-cost carrier JetBlue, will offer its own educational content for travelers to consume while in flight. The airline, which is perhaps best known for a video shown to passengers before takeoff, has partnered with The Teaching Company, which produces the audio and video series known as The Great Courses. Beginning in February, passengers will have access to more than 530 courses, including such titles as "Not All Carbs Are Created Equal" and "Um, Well, Like, You Know," the company said in a press release.PS: "Making Flying Good Again" is Virgin America's motto -CS


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