Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 1, 2013

Cherian George, an associate professor of journalism at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, has lost his appeal of the decision to deny him tenure, Yahoo! Singapore reported. George, who researches press freedoms and state power in Singapore, was denied tenure for a second time in February despite rave reviews from international colleagues and current and former students.  Karin Wahl-Jorgensen, a journalism professor at Cardiff University and an external reviewer of George’s tenure application, told Inside Higher Ed that George’s teaching and research records are “stellar… so much so that he could easily get a full professorship elsewhere in my estimation.” Theodore L. Glasser, a professor in the Department of Communication at Stanford University and George’s dissertation adviser, wrote in a letter that George’s “studies of journalism in Singapore set an agenda – for himself and for others – for research that extends far beyond Singapore.”

“Finally, I want to be unambiguously clear about what I think is at stake here," Glasser's letter concludes. "Cherian George’s career is on the line, and that’s obviously very important to him and to his friends and colleagues. But just as important is NTU’s reputation as a university of international standing. Many of us view this case as a measure of not only NTU’s commitment to academic freedom but its commitment to apply its promotion and tenure standards fairly and equitably.” Although George was promoted to associate professor in 2009, the promotion was de-coupled from the awarding of tenure.

George did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. A spokesman for NTU declined to comment on George's case, "as it is NTU's policy to keep all employment matters confidential."

May 1, 2013

Alumni of the University of Texas at Austin have launched a new video criticizing the way regents appointed by Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, have put pressure on the university. The alumni (in a view shared by many faculty members) argue that the regents are endangering the university's quality and have politicized discussions of higher education. The video, "Wake Up Longhorns," appeals to the pride of alumni by quoting from the fight song of Texas A&M University, Governor Perry's alma mater. Ray Sullivan, Perry's former chief of staff, told The Texas Tribune by e-mail: "I've long thought that the small but vocal status quo/anti-reform forces at UT-Austin were motivated by profound elitism and deep paranoia and hatred of Aggies. Especially against the state's top elected Aggie who has worked hard to improve the infrastructure, effectiveness and economic impact of UT. This proves it."

Here is the video:

 

 

 

May 1, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Joseph Nagyvary of Texas A&M University demonstrates the different vowel tones possessed by many high-end violins. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 1, 2013

Roman Catholic leaders in Pittsburgh are demanding that Carnegie Mellon University take some action over a parade by art students, one of whom mocked the pope, KDKA News reported. The female student dressed as the pope from the waist up, was naked from the waist down, shaved her pubic hair in the shape of a cross, and passed out condoms on the parade route. A statement from the university said, "We are continuing our review of the incident. If our community standards or laws were violated, we will take appropriate action."

May 1, 2013

Students at the state of Washington's 34 community and technical colleges will save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year because of low-cost textbooks produced by the state's Open Course Library, the college system said this week. The library, which received funding from the state legislature and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, spent $1.8 million to develop low-cost course material, including textbooks of no more than $30, for 81 common courses. The effort has already saved students $5.5 million since fall 2011, according to an analysis by The Student Public Interest Research Groups, an advocacy organization.

“Students are clearly the winners in the open courseware library model,” said Marty Brown, the executive director of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, in a conference call with reporters.

Nicole Allen, a textbook advocate for the student group, said Washington's materials are used outside the state, including by a math department in Arizona. Policymakers in California and British Columbia have created similar projects, she said.

April 30, 2013

President Obama used a speech Monday at the 150th anniversary meeting of the National Academy of Sciences to pledge that he would continue to push for research funding. "[A]s long as I’m president, we’re going to continue to be committed to investing in the promising ideas that are generated from you and your institutions, because they lead to innovative products, they help boost our economy, but also because that’s who we are.  I’m committed to it because that’s what makes us special and ultimately what makes life worth living," he said.

Further, at a time that Republicans in Congress are questioning the validity of peer review decisions, Obama expressed strong support for peer review. "[W]e’ve got to protect our rigorous peer review system and ensure that we only fund proposals that promise the biggest bang for taxpayer dollars.  And I will keep working to make sure that our scientific research does not fall victim to political maneuvers or agendas that in some ways would impact on the integrity of the scientific process.  That’s what’s going to maintain our standards of scientific excellence for years to come," the president said.

While a number of presidents have addressed the annual gathering of the academy, President Obama is the first to speak more than once at these meetings. He previously addressed the scientists in 2009.

 

April 30, 2013

The Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation has donated $15 million to the City University of New York's New Community College, which will be renamed in honor of the Guttmans. The new college is based on a number of curricular innovations designed to promote high completion and transfer rates. The foundation also gave CUNY another $10 million for other community college efforts.

There is some dispute over the largest gift to a community college, but by some measures CUNY's newest community college may now have a claim, and it certainly has one of the largest of such donations.

April 30, 2013

Dominican University of California announced last week that it had for many years misreported admissions data to the Education Department as well as to U.S. News & World Report and other groups that rank colleges. At Dominican, the problem was in calculating the number of applications. Contrary to established procedures, Dominican counted incomplete applications in determining the total number of applications. As a result, the college's admission rate appeared more competitive than it really is. For the class that entered in the fall of 2011, Dominican had reported a 53.7 percent admission rate. The real rate was 72.6 percent.

 

April 30, 2013

Many colleges and universities are setting new limits on adjunct hours, seeking to keep the part-time faculty members from being covered by the new federal health-care law. On Monday, the adjunct union at Kalamazoo Valley Community College challenged such a limit, filing a grievance with Michigan officials saying that the new policy violated the union's contract, MLive reported. The union called the limit a "unilateral change" in its contract, and said that the college had an obligation to negotiate over that type of change. A college vice president declined to comment on the complaint, saying that administrators had not yet had time to review it.

 

April 30, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Heath Brown of Seton Hall University explores how some minority-serving organizations work to encourage voting. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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