Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 21, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Jayanth Banavar, dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland at College Park, discusses how geometry plays a significant role in development and evolution. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

April 21, 2014

Bryant University has told graduating seniors that they should refrain from taking selfies during commencement, USA Today reported. The president of Bryant, Ronald Machtley, is a social media fan and regularly participates in selfies with students. But officials worry that if many graduates stop for a selfie, the length of the ceremony could get too long.

 

April 21, 2014

Graduate assistants at the University of Connecticut, who have organized in affiliation with the United Auto Workers, won union recognition last week from the State Board of Labor Relations. The board verified that a super majority of graduate employees signed cards authorizing the Graduate Employee Union, or GEU-UAW, to represent them in collective bargaining. The unit is made up of 2,135 students, and bargaining will focus on work place issues, not academic ones. Stephanie Reitz, a university spokeswoman, said via email: “The university has been, and will continue to be, neutral with regard to this effort. Individual graduate students are free to make their own decisions.”

April 21, 2014

University of Illinois officials fear a massive wave of retirements across all three system campuses due to a glitch in a recently adopted pension reform law. A wording change -- apparently not intended -- in the law could give people much larger retirement benefits if they leave by the end of June than after that. Officials are working on a fix with the state, and warning that the system could be seriously disrupted by retirements if a solution cannot be found to the problem.

 

April 21, 2014

The University of Louisville has agreed to pay $346,844 to Angela Koshewa, who is retiring as the institution's top lawyer, The Courier-Journal reported. Details on why this agreement would be needed were unavailable, but both signed a deal stating that the money reflects a "desire to settle … any and all possible claims and differences among them." The move follows other large payments to departing senior officials.

 

April 21, 2014

A rejected black applicant to the University of Michigan participated in protests last week, charging that the university could increase its black enrollment by admitting students like her, The Detroit Free Press reported. In going public with her story, supporters of affirmative action said that they were trying to focus (as critics of affirmative action have done) on the compelling stories of those turned away. In this case, the rejected applicant is Brooke Kimbrough, who has a 3.6 grade-point average and an ACT score of 23. While supporters said that she could succeed at Michigan, critics said that the university was correct to turn her down, given that her academic record wasn't superior to those getting in. According to the university, the average high school G.P.A. is 3.85 and the 50th percentile of admitted students have ACT composite scores of 29-33.

 

April 18, 2014

Faculty members at University of Maine campuses, coping with (and protesting) deep budget cuts throughout the system, were frustrated to learn this week of a $40,000 raise for a top financial official of the system, The Bangor Daily News reported. The salary of Rebecca Wyke, vice chancellor for administration and finance, went to $205,000 recently, up from $165,000 -- even as layoffs and other cuts have been instituted. System Chancellor James Page, said "Is it a lot of money? Yes." But he said Wyke was a finalist for a position elsewhere that would have paid her more. And he said that the system would have been hurt by her departure, adding that "you do need to have the right people in place to get the job done.”

 

April 18, 2014

The Women's Law Project has filed a complaint with the U.S. Education Department, charging that universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education are violating gender equity laws by failing to provide enough opportunities for women, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The complaint cited Clarion University as an example, stating that women make up 60 percent of the undergraduate student body, but only 47 percent of varsity athletes. Systemwide, the complaint says, there are 900 slots needed to bring women to an appropriate share. A system spokesman denied any violations.

 

April 18, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Jessica Remedios, assistant professor of psychology at Tufts University, examines the perplexing issue of prejudice by taking a look at the variables present in nearly all social interactions. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

April 18, 2014

A former assistant professor of medicine and anatomy and cell biology at Wayne State University is accusing the university of fraudulently obtaining more than $169 million in federal grant dollars in a whistleblower lawsuit, the Detroit Free Press reported. Christian Kreipke says the university falsely reported research costs, such as grossly exaggerating the cost of lab rats ($235,000 for 300) or lab technicians' salaries. Kreipke says he reported the alleged fraud, and was later fired in retaliation for being a whistleblower. He filed the complaint in 2012 and it only recently was unsealed in a U.S. District Court.

Wayne State has not been charged with any crime, although federal investigators are familiar with the case and in court documents have expressed an interest in following the lawsuit, according to the report. In a statement, Wayne State officials said: "“The author of the litigation — an individual who was terminated from his employment for research-related misconduct — has attempted to challenge his termination multiple times using several approaches. Without exception, every such attempt has failed decisively. Should Wayne State be served with this latest claim, we will defend aggressively, and we are confident that it will result in dismissal, as have all of his earlier attempts.”

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