Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 28, 2014

A New York State elementary school has called off the traditional kindergarten show held at the end of the academic year. The reason, The Washington Post reported, was that officials said that they needed the time to help make their young charges "college and career ready."

April 28, 2014

Faculty members at the University of Michigan have issued an open letter arguing that administrators' salaries have skyrocketed in recent years, while pay for professors has increased only modestly, MLive reported. The letter calls for a full investigation of the issue. A spokesman for the university said officials would investigate.

 

April 28, 2014

Students at Illinois State University are protesting a $480,418 payout to Timothy Flanagan, who served as president for seven months before agreeing with board members that he should leave, The Chicago Tribune reported. He left amid an investigation of a confrontation with a grounds worker, although board members and Flanagan have (by mutual agreement) been silent over the reasons for his departure. Critics are questioning why, if it was appropriate for him to leave, he should get so much money. Students have carried signs at protests saying "Would you pay me to drop out?" and "Flanagan check = 10 full rides."

April 25, 2014

Lehigh University has expelled a student who vandalized a multicultural residence hall, The Express-Times reported. The student's name was not released but the university said that he was drunk at the time and took eggs and tomatoes from a fraternity to throw them at the residence hall.

 

April 25, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Anne Murphy, associate professor of neuroscience at Georgia State University, observes the relationship between pain felt as an infant and the related long-term effects. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

April 25, 2014

Two Seton Hill University field hockey players alleged in a lawsuit that they were psychologically and physically abused by three coaches, and that administrators failed to stop it, the Tribune-Review reported. The suit, which targets the coaches and several administrators, says the players were forced to practice in the dark, called "losers" and ridiculed in public, and mocked for their athletic performance. In one instance, the suit says, Head Coach Whitney Harness threw a water bottle at a player. The athletes' attorney says she spoke with administrators about the problems last fall, but no action was taken and the coaches remain at the the Division II university.

In a statement, a Seton Hill spokeswoman disputed that administrators ignored the abuse, and said the university did investigate the matter. "As a result of that investigation, measures were taken to address the unprofessional and ineffective conduct," the statement says. "While the investigation was closed, the administration continues to monitor the situation and work closely with the coaches and student-athletes involved."

This is the latest in a string of public allegations of bullying or abuse by female coaches.

April 25, 2014

Three dozen students picketed the admissions office at Smith College Thursday to demand a change in the institution's policy with regard to transgender students, The Republican reported. Smith does not discriminate against transgender students once they are enrolled, but the college only admits women. The protest called for Smith to admit those who may be listed as male on their high school transcripts but have been living as women. Here is how Smith explains its admissions policy with regard to transgender applicants: "An application from a transgender student is treated no differently from other applications: every application Smith receives is considered on a case-by-case basis. Like most women’s colleges, Smith expects that, to be eligible for review, a student’s application and supporting documentation (transcripts, recommendations, etc.) will reflect her status as a woman."

 

April 25, 2014

Authorities arrested 18 students Wednesday who refused to leave the area of the president's office at the University of Texas at Austin, The Austin American-Statesman reported. The protest was over a "shared services" plan in which certain functions that have been performed at the departmental level will instead be centralized. The plan is expected to save a lot of money, and also to eliminate many jobs. The university released this summary of the plan and its rationale, noting that it has not been finalized.

 

April 25, 2014

Federal agencies don't often bite the hands that finance them. But the National Science Board, which sets the agenda for the National Science Foundation, on Thursday criticized Congressional legislation that would slash funding for social and political science research and, it argues, limit the agency's autonomy and ultimately its effectiveness. The Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act, as the measure is called, is sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith, chair of the House science committee, and it was motivated by questions from Smith and other lawmakers about the legitimacy and relevance of certain grants.

The measure has generated concern from many scientists and higher education groups. In its statement Thursday, the science board, which is made up of many academic leaders, said the bill would impose burdens on scientists and, by dictating how the agency does and does not spend its money, "significantly impede NSF's flexibility to deploy its funds to support the best ideas."

April 24, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Nicholas Leadbeater, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Connecticut, details the wide application of this chemical element and explains why its days of filling party balloons may be coming to an end. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

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