Robert J. Birgeneau announced Tuesday that he will retire as chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley at the end of 2012. He was appointed in 2004, and said that he originally hoped to lead the campus for seven years, but opted to stay due to the severe budget pressure the university has faced. Birgeneau has faced student criticism over budget cuts, and what many students believe was excessive force in dealing with protests. But he also pushed hard through private fund-raising to protect Berkeley from raids on its faculty talent.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan on Tuesday signed legislation that classifies research assistants at public universities as students who are ineligible for collective bargaining, The Detroit Free Press reported. Republican legislators and the Republican governor enacted the legislation amid a move to unionize research assistants at the University of Michigan. Union supporters and Democrats have blasted the legislation.
A sit-in at the German University in Cairo has entered its third week, Ahram Online reported. Students are demanding protection of their rights to dissent, following the expulsion of two students and the suspension of two others over earlier protests. Those students were protesting actions by Egypt's rulers. The university told them, in advance of the protest, that they could have a silent protest, but punished some students after they shouted their views during the demonstration.
The Education Department will track the number of students completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and release the data to the public, sorted by high school, the department announced Tuesday. The website, which lists the number of students per high school who have completed and submitted the form, is intended to help high school counselors (and others) and uses data from the Education Department's systems, the first time such data has been made available. The numbers will be updated every two weeks.
Advocacy groups, including Campus Progress, US PIRG, Rebuild the Dream and other student groups, delivered 130,000 letters from students to Congress on Wednesday, asking the lawmakers to stop the interest rate on subsidized student loans from doubling to 6.8 percent in July. President Obama has urged Congress to stop the rate increase, and Congressional Democrats have called for the change as well. Keeping the interest rate for subsidized loans at 3.4 percent would cost about $5 billion.
Canadian athletic officials gathered last weekend to discuss what they consider a worrisome trend: Most of the top female hockey players in the country go to colleges and universities in the United States, The Edmonton Journal reported. Many said that Canadian universities have failed to put enough money into their programs, frequently operating with just a head coach, and not the assistant coaches found on teams in the U.S.
Sessions on alien spirituality, ghost hunting equipment and a case study in alien abduction headlined the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Paranormal Symposium, which included 17 hours of “logical, scientific and rational explanations of UFOs and other paranormal phenomenon.” About 20 people, including at least two faculty members, attended the third-annual weekend event, the Omaha World-Herald reported. It wasn’t immediately clear whether any aliens joined in the festivities.
Dave Pares, a professor of geography and meteorology, was among those leading discussions on the presence of life in outer space. "There's been more than one alien civilization that's been here, observing," Pares told the World-Herald. "They are here now, observing."
The extraterrestrial seems to be a popular topic at the college. Nebraska-Omaha has a Paranormal Society, a UFO Study Group and two weekly campus radio shows devoted to alien life.
The Russell Group, an invitation-only organization of British research universities roughly equivalent to the Association of American Universities, announced Monday that it is admitting four new members -- more than have ever been added to the organization since its founding in 1994. The new members are Durham University, Queen Mary University of London, the University of Exeter and the University of York. Prior to Monday's announcement, the Russell Group had 20 members. Times Higher Education noted that the gain for the four universities is a loss to the 1994 Group, which Russell's newest members left, and which represented other institutions not in the more exclusive group.