Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 9, 2013

President Obama has named 12 people to receive the National Humanities medal:

  • Edward L. Ayers, president of the University of Richmond and historian of the Civil War era.
  • William G. Bowen, former president of Princeton University, and author of books about higher education.
  • Jill Ker Conway, former president of Smith College.
  • Natalie Zemon Davis, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History Emeritus.
  • Frank Deford, the sports writer.
  • Joan Didion, the essayist and novelist.
  • Robert D. Putnam, professor of government at Harvard University.
  • Marilynne Robinson, the novelist.
  • Kay Ryan, former poet laureate of the United States.
  • Robert B. Silvers, co-founder of The New York Review of Books.
  • Anna Deavere Smith, the actress and playwright.
  • Camilo José Vergara, the photographer.

More details about the honorees may be found here.

 

 

July 9, 2013

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will face a third federal investigation related to its handling of sexual assault complaints, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. The U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights -- which is already investigating complaints alleging that UNC misreported assault statistics and mishandled student complaints – said it will look into whether the university retaliated against Landen Gambill, who was charged by the campus honor court after speaking out about her rape case. OCR said in a recent "Dear Colleague" letter that taking action against students who issue complaints, either on campus or with the federal government, is illegal under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Gambill was also a party to the initial OCR complaint against UNC. An investigation commissioned by the university found no evidence of retaliation, but said UNC's honor court system is flawed and lacks administrative oversight.

July 9, 2013

A new paper in the journal Academic Medicine questions the validity of the rankings by U.S. News & World Report of primary care programs at medical schools. The study noted that while there is some consistency from year to year, the variability among institutions outside of the top 20 "is greater than could be plausibly attributed to actual changes in training quality. These findings raise questions regarding the ranking's validity and usefulness." Robert Morse, who directs the rankings at U.S. News, said he hadn't seen the research and would need to study it before commenting.

July 9, 2013

The embattled Chancellor University will close in August, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Chancellor, a for-profit institution located in Cleveland, enrolled fewer than 250 students earlier this year and planned to drop its regional accreditation in the fall. The university was formed in 2008 when a group of investors, led by Michael Clifford, purchased Myers University, a struggling private nonprofit institution. Chancellor later landed Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric Co., to help run the university's management  school. But Strayer University subsequently purchased the Jack Welch Management Institute.

July 9, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Daniel Ksepka of North Carolina State University describes the common ancestor of today’s swifts and hummingbirds. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

July 8, 2013

Ball State University has hired Guillermo Gonzalez -- a prominent figure in intelligent design -- as assistant professor in the department of physics and astronomy, The Star Press reported. Gonzalez was denied tenure at Iowa State University, where he said that he was being punished for his views, but his faculty colleagues said he was rejected based on traditional tenure criteria. A broad consensus exists among scientists that evolution, not intelligent design, explains the origins of the earth. And many scientists -- while having no problem with intelligent design as a focus in philosophy or religion classes -- object to science departments teaching it. Ball State is currently investigating a complaint that another faculty member in physics and astronomy was inserting religious, creationist views into a science course.

 

July 8, 2013

The University of Massachusetts System has adopted a new reporting mechanism on its progress in meeting state goals, and will replace a long report that few read with a simple brochure, The Boston Globe reported. The brochure will feature 21 broad goals, with a simple indication (not letter grades, but perhaps up and down arrows) of progress or lack thereof. Some campus officials opposed the new system, fearing it would oversimplify. But system officials said that this approach is important to promote transparency about how state funds are used.

 

July 8, 2013

Some alumni and others are questioning a plan by William Peace University to use two-thirds of its $33 million endowment to buy a retail center adjacent to campus, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. University officials said that the center would provide income now and could at some point in the future provide facilities for expanding the university. Others question devoting so much of the university's endowment to the project. Still others have raised questions about the university's refusal to release the names of the trustees who voted on the matter.

 

July 8, 2013

Xia Yeliang, an economics professor at Peking University, has confirmed to The South China Morning Post that his department will be voting on whether to expel him. Xia has written and spoken out critically about Chinese government policies. He is currently a visiting professor at Stanford University but plans to return to Beijing to defend his right to speak out and hold a faculty position at Peking University. "This is not coming from Peking University, this is coming from the central leadership," Xia said. "The state of academic freedom is getting worse and worse. Nowadays, you don't have the right to debate anymore. A university is a place that should be free and open."

July 8, 2013

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  has filed an objection to a unionization bid by faculty members at the University Laboratory High School that the campus runs, The News-Gazette reported. The union organizers say that these faculty members are entitled to collective bargaining. But the university says that these teachers are part of a larger group of non-tenure-track faculty members at Urbana-Champaign, and that any consideration of a union should involve all such instructors, not just those at the high school.

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