Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 3:00am

A former employee at Thomas Jefferson School of Law alleges she falsified data on graduate employment at the request of the school’s administration, according to court documents published by Law School Transparency. In a sworn statement filed as part of a lawsuit against the school for supposedly misrepresenting its job placement rates, former career services assistant director Karen Grant says she was told to record students as “employed” if they had held a job at any point after graduating; American Bar Association and standards hold that graduates can only be counted as “employed” if they have a job as of Feb. 15 following graduation.

Thomas Jefferson Dean Rudy Hasl maintains that there is no truth to Grant’s claims, and says the school will present a “vigorous denial of the allegations” to the court. He notes that Grant worked at the school for less than a year, and suggested that her departure was not voluntary, and thus “she may have other reasons for making these assertions.” Thomas Jefferson will present its case at a hearing Nov. 9 in response to a motion filed by the plaintiff in the lawsuit seeking sanctions against Thomas Jefferson for allegedly destroying and concealing evidence.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 3:00am

Fifteen British universities have joined other science and charitable organizations in pledging to be more open about the use of animals in research and to promote public discussion of the ethical issues involved, Times Higher Education reported. The pledge follows concern by some scientists and others that support in Britain is dropping for the use of animals in research.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 3:00am

Six Italian scientists and a former government official were convicted of manslaughter on Monday for playing down the risk of a 6.3-magnitude earthquake that killed 309 people in L’Aquila in 2009. The scientists were sentenced to six years in prison, and must also pay $10.2 million in court costs and damages, The New York Times reported. The scientists -- seismologists and geologists -- plan to appeal.

Academics around the world have condemned the prosecution of the Italian scientists as not only unfair but also unfounded, scientifically speaking. Earthquake prediction is a famously inexact science, with increases in risk measured in thousandths or hundredths of a percent. Although a series of tremors preceding the L’Aquila tragedy indicated increased hazard, the risk of a major earthquake remained very low, on the order of 1 percent, explained Tom Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center and a professor of earth sciences at the University of Southern California. Jordan wrote a report commissioned by the Italian government in which he offered recommendations for how scientists could more effectively communicate the risks of seismic events to policymakers and the public.

The verdict, he said, could derail efforts to improve communication. “People are worried that this verdict could throw a lot of cold water on the relationships that scientists have with the public,” Jordan said in an interview with Inside Higher Ed

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Amy Sliva of Northeastern University explains how advances in computing power are allowing for an artificially intelligent approach to cyber security. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 3:00am

Louisiana State University on Monday apologized for its recent action to remove crosses from a photograph of a group of LSU football fans who paint their bodies in various ways, including the placement of crosses above their hearts. The university used Photoshop to remove the crosses from a photo of the Painted Posse before using the photograph in a newsletter. (This article on WGNO's website includes the actual photograph and a version in which the crosses were removed.) Facing growing criticism, the university posted this statement on its Facebook page: "LSU sent out a promotional message on October 15 to its sports fans asking for feedback on their experience at the LSU-South Carolina game on October 13. In messages to sports fans we attempt to convey no religious or political messaging. We did not intend to offend anyone by the editing of this photograph and in the future we will use another photo rather than make a similar edit. We erred in our judgment and we have communicated our apologies to the group of young men represented in the photo whose school spirit is second to none."

 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 3:00am

Both male and female scientists believe that gender discrimination is one reason why some women avoid careers in science, and why some who opt for science careers pursue biology as opposed to physics, according to a new report published in the journal Gender and Society. The authors say that they want to understand why women are making certain choices, and how those choices are perceived. In interviews, male scientists tended to refer to past discrimination as a factor while women were more likely to cite current discrimination as a factor.

 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 4:18am

"College 101" courses -- in which students learn how to be effective students -- have strong campus support, but need to improve if they are to have a long-term positive impact on students, says a new report by the Community College Research Center of Teachers College of Columbia University. While the information the courses provide is "valuable," the courses typically "did not offer sufficient opportunities for in-depth exploration and skill-building practice," the report says. The analysis was based on an investigation of the courses at three community colleges in Virginia.

 

 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 3:00am

A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit by Hebrew University of Jerusalem against GM for the auto company's use of an Albert Einstein image pasted onto a muscled physique, The Detroit News reported. Hebrew University said that Einstein's will gave it rights to the use of his image. In this case GM used the image in an ad that ran in People magazine with the tag line "Ideas are sexy too." Judge Howard Matz ruled that GM was within its rights. "[Einstein] did become the symbol and embodiment of genius. His persona has become thoroughly ingrained in our cultural heritage. Now, nearly 60 years after his death, that persona should be freely available to those who seek to appropriate it as part of their own expression, even in tasteless ads," he ruled.

Monday, October 22, 2012 - 3:00am

Iranian students enrolled at universities outside Iran are struggling with the impact of the collapse of the value of their country's currency, Reuters reported. As Western nations have strengthened sanctions against Iran, the Iranian currency lost one-third of its value compared to the dollar in just 10 days this fall. For some students abroad, they suddenly lacked enough money to pay tuition. Iran's government estimates that it has 35,000 students enrolled in other countries.

Monday, October 22, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Terry Gates of Ohio University reveals how shifting geographic features contributed to the creation of two distinct groups of North American dinosaurs. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

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