Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 20, 2014

A historian in Thailand is facing lèse-majesté charges, brought by "ultra-royalists," Khaosod English reported. Such charges can lead to serious punishments in Thailand. Sulak Sivaraksa, the historian, faces the charges over comments he made at an academic forum at Thammasat University in which he questioned whether there was evidence behind the story of King Naresuan winning an elephant battle against a Burmese general 400 years ago. The event is much commemorated in Thai society, as in the illustration below, from Wikipedia.

 

October 17, 2014

Syracuse University has withdrawn an invitation for a campus visit to a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo journalist over fears he might transmit Ebola, even though he has been away from Ebola areas for more than 21 days, symptom-free, News Photographer magazine reported. The photograph is Michel du Cille of The Washington Post, who returned from Liberia 21 days ago. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that those who are symptom-free for 21 days can be considered not to have Ebola. "I just got off the phone with the dean [Lorraine Branham, of the journalism school], and I am pissed off," du Cille said. "I am disappointed in the level of journalism at Syracuse, and I am angry that they missed a great teaching opportunity. Instead they have decided to jump in with the mass hysteria."

Branham told the magazine that the university was responding to student concerns. "He was disinvited because of concerns that were generated by some students that led me to believe that it would lead to even more concerns," Branham said. "So it was in the best interest of the students for me to withdraw the invitation." Added the dean: "It's my responsibility to protect the students. Twenty-one days is the CDC's standard, but there have been questions raised about whether the incubation period is longer. I knew that parents would be upset. And at the end of the day my concern is about the students."

October 17, 2014

A New York court has found that Donald Trump is liable for operating a for-profit institution without proper licensing, Reuters reported. A New York State Supreme Court justice ruled that the real estate entrepreneur had ignored notifications from state officials in 2005 that he needed to register his investment "school" -- known until 2010 as Trump University -- with state officials. A lawyer for Trump said the ruling was mistaken but predicted Trump would ultimately be required to pay little in the way of damages.

 

October 17, 2014

Blackboard will stop supporting the learning management system Angel, which the company acquired in 2009, on Oct. 15, 2016, according to Pennsylvania State University. Blackboard had plans to drop support for Angel in October 2014, but chose in early 2012 to extend support indefinitely. The move means many of the colleges and universities that put plans to upgrade their learning management systems on ice will likely be looking for a new provider. George Kroner, who tracks LMS usage on the Edutechnica blog, estimated about 180 institutions still use Angel.

October 17, 2014

Two American journalism professors were briefly detained in Russia on Thursday for allegedly lacking the proper visas to conduct educational workshops, according to reports on the Boston University and New England Center for Investigative Reporting websites.

Joe Bergantino, a clinical professor of journalism at BU and director of the BU-based investigative reporting center, and Randy Covington, a journalism professor at the University of South Carolina, were conducting a training with 14 Russian journalists in St. Petersburg before being detained and taken to district court, where a judge found them guilty of visa violations. The professors were in Russia through a U.S. Department of State media training grant and reportedly were using the type of visa recommended by the State Department for this type of work. They are not allowed to continue teaching but can return to the United States as scheduled.

October 17, 2014

A new study in Anatomical Sciences Education finds that cadavers are more effective than computer simulations in teaching anatomy. The study divided the 233 students in an undergraduate anatomy course into groups in which some learned on a cadaver and others through computer simulation. Those using the cadaver scored higher on tests both of identification of body parts and explaining how those parts work. The latter finding is particularly significant as simulation advocates have suggested that approach may be superior for using how parts work.

 

October 17, 2014

The North Dakota University System has placed Williston State College President Raymond Nadolny on administrative leave while state officials investigate allegations of misconduct involving alcohol, InForum reported. In a letter Wednesday, the news service reported, System Chancellor Larry Skogen said he had hired an independent investigator to explore charges of misconduct, and warned that the inquiry could lead to Nadolny's dismissal.

 

 

October 17, 2014

Negotiators for California State University and its faculty union said Thursday night that they had reached tentative agreement on a three-year contract extension. Under the terms of the deal between Cal State and the California Faculty Association, the compensation pool for union members -- who include librarians, coaches, and counselors as well as professors -- would rise by 3 percent this year, resulting in a 1.6 across-the-board increase and pay raises of up to 4.6 percent for certain groups of instructors.

October 17, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Neal Hall, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, discusses research on the way flies perceive sound, which is helping engineers improve microphone technology. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

October 16, 2014

The relationship between federal policy and the skills gap is misunderstood, according to a new report from the New America Foundation. The paper looks at five "policy gaps" in the Higher Education Act, the law governing federal student aid programs, that could be closed to build stronger connections between learning and work. Those gaps include an excessive focus on institutional and internal indicators of quality; a lack of attention to student employment outcomes; and aid eligibility requirements that fall short of the needs of adult learners, according to the report, which was authored by Mary Alice McCarthy, a senior policy analyst at the foundation who previously worked for the U.S. Department of Labor and the Education Department.

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