Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 3:00am

Average grades have fallen at King's College of the University of Cambridge, and officials say that's because of the high level of involvement of students in protesting the British government's plans for higher education, Times Higher Education reported. Among Cambridge's colleges, King's fell to 20th from 14th (out of 29) in grades. The provost, Ross Harrison, said that the reason was protest. Undergraduates "flung themselves into resistance," he said. and "some of the most active political performers descended in their results as compared with last year."

 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 3:00am

In Texas and in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Governor Rick Perry has boasted of his administration's efforts to promote job growth. As The Bryan/College Station Eagle reported, one of his largest such efforts was a $50 million grant in 2005 to create a business-university biomedical research center. He promised at the time -- when some questioned the size of the investment -- that the state would benefit from thousands of new jobs as well as life-saving medical breakthroughs. The Eagle examined the project today and found that the business that received more than 70 percent of the funds has since eliminated the jobs of half of its employees, and given up its role in the project. The university partner, the Texas A&M University System, has kept the program alive, and the program currently employs nine people.

 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 3:00am

Lake Superior State University has released its annual list of "Words Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness." This year's list features several from politics and economics ("occupy," "the new normal," "shared sacrifice"), others from pop culture ("man cave," "baby bump") and others misused in all kinds of circumstances ("amazing," "ginormous"). The complete list may be found here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 3:00am

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit last week revived a lawsuit against Carolyn Jones, a University of Iowa law professor who was dean at the time of the incidents in the suit, by a woman who says she was not hired for several faculty jobs because of her political views. The woman who sued, Teresa R. Wagner, is a conservative who has worked with an anti-abortion group. Her suit noted that only 1 of the 50 faculty members at the law school is a registered Republican, and that she was advised not to tell a search committee that she had applied for a job at the Ave Maria School of Law because that institution is seen as conservative. The appeals court did not weigh in on the merits of Wagner's case, but said that there was enough evidence -- when viewed in the ways most favorable to her, as is the legal standard at that stage of a lawsuit -- that a lower court should not have dismissed the case. An Iowa spokesman declined to discuss the case with local reporters, saying that university policy bars discussion of current litigation.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 3:00am

Kevin Gausepohl resigned as a music instructor at Tacoma Community College after being told that officials were investigating charges that he told a student to strip because she could reach lower octaves by singing while naked or performing sexual acts, The News Tribune reported. The student was 17 years old at the time, and enrolled in a dual program with a local high school. Other students told authorities that they received similar requests from the instructor, who cited a study on which he said he was working as the need for the unusual singing arrangement. The other students, unlike the 17-year-old, did not comply. The instructor denies wrongdoing. He is facing seven counts of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and one count of obstructing a law enforcement officer, according to court records.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 3:00am

The "block plan," in which students take one course at a time for a few weeks, rather than four or five courses over a semester, is attracting interest in Canada, The Globe and Mail reported. Quest University has adopted the system and three institutions -- Acadia University,  Algoma University and the University of Northern British Columbia -- have started to explore the use of block schedules. Among the small number of institutions in the United States that use the system are Colorado, Cornell (Iowa) and Tusculum Colleges.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 3:00am

While some mark the New Year by noting words that are annoying, Wayne State University issues a list of words that are "regrettably neglected." This year's list: antediluvian, erstwhile, execrable, frisson, parlous, penultimate, Sisyphean, supercilious, transmogrify and truckle. Details on the words may be found here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Miami has agreed to pay $83,000 to a bankruptcy trustee to cover the costs of gifts made by Nevin Shapiro, a one-time booster of athletic programs who is now in jail over a Ponzi scheme that among other things financed his gifts to various Miami athletes, The Miami Herald reported. The deal states that the trustee will not seek to recover additional funds from the athletes and former athletes, meaning that they will not be forced to publicly discuss the gifts. Those gifts are believed to have included Cadillac Escalades, jewelry, party invites, champagne, lap dances and the services of prostitutes.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 3:00am

Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky has stopped a controversial merger between the University of Louisville's teaching hospital and a Roman Catholic health system. The idea for the merger provoked an uproar in the state last year. Beshear cited loss of public control over the hospital as a main reason for rejecting the merger, which he said had more risks than benefits, The Courier-Journal reported. The merger was controversial because the hospitals would all have had to follow Catholic health directives, including restrictions on abortion and sterilization, and some groups feared they would interfere with medical education at the public institution.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 3:00am

Israel's Academy of Sciences and Humanities organized a meeting last week at which hundreds of Israeli academics living abroad, as well as Jewish academics in other countries considering a move to Israel, met with representatives of Israeli universities, Ynet News reported. The event was part of an expanded effort in Israel to reverse its brain drain problem. More than 2,000 Israeli academics abroad (a majority of them in the United States) have told academy officials that they are interested in returning to Israel. Those who return will be eligible for tax breaks and other benefits.

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