Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, January 21, 2013 - 3:00am

Ghostwriting of term papers is so common in Russia that those who do the work openly advertise their services, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty reported. A woman based in Tatarstan told the news service: "Theses start from 5,000 rubles [$165]. But it depends on how much the person can pay; the price is agreed individually. I don't copy anything from the Internet and I do my research in libraries. I care about my professional reputation; I don't want to lose clients."

 

Monday, January 21, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Darla Zelenitsky of the University of Calgary reveals a find that is a first for North American paleontology. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Monday, January 21, 2013 - 4:14am

Governor Jerry Brown, a California Democrat, is proposing to expand various reforms to assure speedier completion of programs at California community colleges, The Los Angeles Times reported. Brown wants students who exceed 90 credits of work to pay for the full cost of instruction, arguing that this would free up space in the crowded system. But some students say that this would punish those with double majors or who don't immediately find the field that they want to pursue.

 

Monday, January 21, 2013 - 3:00am

Bowling Green State University announced Friday that it will cut the size of its faculty by 11 percent, eliminating 100 full-time faculty jobs, The Toledo Blade reported. The reduction will be made by not filling positions of those who resign or retire, and also by not renewing many one-year teaching contracts. Officials said that more than $5 million would be saved, and that the funds would be invested in other priorities. In addition, administrators said that there would be no impact on the quality of instruction students receive.

David Jackson, president of the faculty union, said faculty members were not told of the plan in advance. He also said that the quality of instruction would be hurt, and that the student-to-faculty ratio would go up. "These are not aimless cuts that will not have an effect on students," he said. "It is unconceivable that this will not have a negative effect on the quality of education here at BGSU."

 

Monday, January 21, 2013 - 3:00am

Representative Walter B. Jones, a North Carolina Republican, is attacking a grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities to Craven Community College, in North Carolina. The grant is quite modest -- 25 books and a DVD -- but Jones objects to the subject matter. The materials are about Muslim cultures (and similar grants are being given to other colleges for their libraries). In a statement, Jones said: "It is appalling to me that a federal agency like NEH is wasting taxpayer money on programs like this. It makes zero sense for the U.S. government to borrow money from China in order to promote the culture of Islamic civilizations." (The grant announcement does not state that it is "promoting" Islamic cultures, only encouraging more understanding of them.)

Jones also called for the community college to assure "balance" if it accepts the grant by adding materials on "Christianity and America’s rich Judeo-Christian heritage." The Craven-Pamlico Christian Coalition then issued a statement that it "would be pleased to provide a series of materials about the history of Christianity to the Craven Community College. However, in light of the government’s role in keeping God out of the public square and the obstacles that Christians face when it comes to prayer and the ability to publicly proclaim our faith, it just seems more than odd that the federal government will provide a package of 'Muslim Journeys' to a number of colleges nationwide. It’s even more perplexing knowing the fiscal problems facing our nation."

A local newspaper, The New Bern Sun Journal, ran an editorial stating that Jones was being unfair in his criticism of the grant. "The materials funded by the NEH grant are intended to teach about Islamic culture, something that would be useful in a community where many residents find themselves deployed to Islamic nations."

Monday, January 21, 2013 - 3:00am

The retirement package for John Sperling, the recently retired founder of the Apollo Group (parent company of the University of Phoenix) "likely won’t do the company any favors on the PR front," The Wall Street Journal reported. Sperling will receive $5 million in a "special retirement bonus," an annuity of $70,833.33 a month, ownership of two Apollo vehicles he used while he was chairman and "reasonable out-of-pocket” medical- and dental-care coverage.

Monday, January 21, 2013 - 3:00am

A group of students and a former dean filed a complaint last week with the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights, alleging that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill violated a series of federal laws protecting the rights of sexual assault survivors, The Huffington Post and The Daily Tar Heel student newspaper reported. Melinda Manning, the former associate dean of students who reportedly resigned over the institution's handling of sexual assault cases, said the individuals who run the campus judicial system did not receive adequate training for the job and mistreated victims, asking inappropriate questions and blaming victims. The complaint says upper-level administrators pressured Manning to underreport sexual assault statistics to the federal government and discouraged her from approaching Chancellor Holden Thorp about her concerns.

The complaint, filed on behalf of 64 assault victims, says UNC violated the Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights, the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Monday, January 21, 2013 - 3:00am

An online petition campaign organized by Avaaz.org draws attention to the plight of Syrian students who are unable to pay tuition fees, including government-sponsored students whose tuition payments have been stopped. A statement released Friday by the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, asked universities and funding agencies to exercise discretion over tuition and to use hardship funds to support students when possible. The statement notes that all institutions that enroll Syrian students through the Syrian Higher Education Capacity Building Project have agreed to waive or defer fees.

Monday, January 21, 2013 - 3:00am

Dixie State College's board has voted to request a name change to Dixie State University, but not to abandon the "Dixie" portion of its name. The institution is located in a part of Utah settled by immigrants from the South who embraced the Dixie name and Confederate imagery. As the college debating becoming a university, some affiliated with the university said that it would be a good time to change its name entirely, and to end associations that some saw as exclusionary.

Steven G. Caplin, the board chair, issued a statement: "As with stakeholders at large, the trustees saw the merits of several different naming options, and the majority preferred 'Dixie State University.' In the end the board chose to unite as one body. We unanimously stand behind the Dixie State University name and encourage all stakeholders to do the same. This is the time to combine our resources, make our best contributions, and rally around this great institution."

Roi Wilkins, a senior at the college who is African-American, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the college was ignoring the extent to which its name is associated with oppression. "I feel like they’re still trying to sweep it under the rug," he said.

Friday, January 18, 2013 - 3:00am

Michael Barera has been named Wikipedian in residence at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library at the University of Michigan -- the first such position at a presidential library. Barera will focus on expanding the availability of information about President Ford and the library's holdings on Wikipedia through the Gerald Ford WikiProject.

 

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