Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 3:00am

Lady Gaga on Wednesday announced that she is creating the Born This Way Foundation to focus on youth issues such as preventing bullying and promoting self-confidence in young people. While only a few details have been released, one key player in creating the foundation will be the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, at Harvard University. John Palfrey, faculty co-director of the center, released this statement: "It seems Hollywood launches foundations all the time, but I can't recall an artist of Lady Gaga's reach or caliber who has done the months of due-diligence and behind-the-scenes meetings with the experts before they've launched such a foundation."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Academics and literary figures are questioning the decision by Delhi University to stop teaching an essay by a respected academic, A.K. Ramanujan, because its references to Rama, a hero-god, are deemed offensive to some nationalist Hindus, Reuters reported. The move by the university is seen as giving in to political pressure and undercutting freedom of expression. On Twitter, Salman Rushdie called the decision "academic censorship."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 3:00am

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Ohio State University is not entitled to tax exemptions on property it owns but leases to others for non-university use, The Dayton Daily News reported. A lower court ruled that the revenue generated by the rentals constituted university use, but the Supreme Court rejected that argument.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Walter M. Kimbrough has attracted considerable attention as president of Philander Smith College, a historically black college, for efforts to improve black male retention rates and for connecting with students through such tools as his Twitter feed, HipHopPrez. On Tuesday, he was named the next president of Dillard University, a historically black institution in New Orleans that was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina, but that has since bounced back.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 4:24am

Pearson, the e-learning company, is teaming up with the adaptive software developer Knewton to improve its popular line of e-tutoring products. In a release on Tuesday, the company announced that "Knewton’s engine will power Pearson’s digital content, including its popular MyLab and Mastering series." That "engine" is Knewton's learning platform, which uses algorithms "identifies each student’s strengths, weaknesses and unique learning style" and adapts accordingly as he work through problem sets. Pearson and Knewton have both been on the front edge of a trend in e-learning software that emphasizes "personalized" learning experiences, especially for students in developmental programs.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 3:00am

A recent nationwide study found that the shared student experience of the "freshman 15" is nothing more than a myth. In reality, women gain 2.4 pounds and men gain 3.4 pounds on average,  according to the study. The study, conducted by Jay Zagorsky, an Ohio State University researcher, and Patricia Smith, a professor of economics at the University of Michigan at Dearborn, pulled data from National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, which cataloged statistics, including weight, of more than 7,000 people age 13 to 17. The participants have been interviewed every year since 1997. The study results showed that college students gain weight slowly throughout college, and no more than 10 percent of all college freshman actually gained 15 pounds or more.

"Repeated use of the phrase “the Freshman 15,” even if it is being used just as a catchy alliterative figure of speech, may contribute to the misperception of being overweight, especially among young women," the study states.

 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 4:30am

Stanford University initially turned down an offer from an organization with ties to China's government for $4 million that would have, in part, endowed a professorship in Chinese culture and language because one condition would have barred professors hired with the funds from talking about Tibet, Bloomberg reported. The funds came through the organization sponsoring Confucius Institutes at many American colleges and universities. (Stanford subsequently accepted the funds in another way, supporting programs for which the Tibet issue didn't come up, and so avoiding the question of Tibet.) Officials from many of the colleges that have taken the funds said that the institutes did not have such strings attached to their funds. But some Asian studies scholars see much too close a connection between the funds and various ambitions of China's government. "By peddling a product we want, namely Chinese language study, the Confucius Institutes bring the Chinese government into the American academy in powerful ways," said Jonathan Lipman, a professor of Chinese history at Mount Holyoke College. "The general pattern is very clear. They can say, 'We’ll give you this money, you’ll have a Chinese program, and nobody will talk about Tibet.' In this economy, turning them down has real costs."

 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Bevil Conway explains how the brain creates color and reveals methods artists have used to compensate for the shifting color palette of human perception. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 4:36am

Colorado voters on Tuesday rejected a referendum that would have, for five years, restored certain taxes cut in recent years, and designated the revenue gained to support schools and colleges. The Denver Post reported that, with 61 percent of precincts reporting, the measure was attracting support from only 35 percent of voters.

 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Investigations by Tilburg and Groningen Universities, in the Netherlands, have found that Diederik Stapel faked research data that was used in at least 30 research papers, Dutch News reported. Stapel, a professor of social and behavioral sciences at Tilburg, was suspended in September as inquiries began into some of his work. In a statement Stapel posted on a newspaper site, he said that he has "failed as a researcher and academic," adding that "I realize now that my behavior has stunned and angered my colleagues and put my area of expertise – social psychology – in a bad light."

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