Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 4:25am

A Virginia judge has blocked a bid by the American Tradition Institute to obtain e-mail records created by Michael Mann when he was a faculty member at the University of Virginia, The Washington Post reported. The institute is among the groups that believe that the records will raise questions about the validity of climate change research, even though there is a wide consensus among scientists that climate change is real. Mann, the university, and many academic groups believe that the attempt to obtain e-mail represents an attack on science, with the goal of intimidating researchers and denying them any privacy in their exchanges. The judge ruled that the e-mail is exempt from Virginia's open records laws under specific exemptions for communication among public faculty members while producing research. An appeal is expected.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 3:00am

Federal law enforcement officials and the Education Department's inspector general announced Tuesday that they had indicted 21 people for allegedly defrauding at least 15 colleges in California of at least $770,000 through what department officials have characterized as "fraud rings."  Summaries of the seven alleged schemes, which were aimed at community colleges and for-profit institutions, can be found in the department's news release.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 4:29am

City College of San Francisco is very close to bankruptcy, in part because of its spending and personnel decisions, a state audit has found, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The study found that the college has almost twice the number of tenured faculty members per 1,000 students (24) as comparable community colleges in California. Further, the audit questioned some of the benefits employees receive, such as 23 paid holidays on top of vacation time.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 3:00am

Community colleges and four-year institutions have often been at odds over nursing education in the states, with conflicts over funding and who better serves the market. That tension may be ebbing, however, with the release this week of an agreement between the major nursing organizations and groups representing the community college sector. The statement stresses alignment between the organizations toward a "seamless academic progression of nursing students and nurses," with the common goal of a "well educated, diverse nursing workforce to advance the nation’s health."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Sid McGuirk of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University explains how the air traffic control system is able to track and maintain the safety of thousands of daily flights. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 3:00am

Authorities at Arkansas State University arrested Carlon Walker, a 44-year-old local man, on Tuesday for allegedly making a bomb threat against a women's dormitory. Students were evacuated from the facility (and an adjacent building), but were permitted to return after a room-by-room search of the building found nothing of danger. A spokeswoman for the university said Walker was not known to have any connection to Arkansas State, and that authorities did not believe this threat was linked to four others against colleges and universities in the last week. Those threats have not been linked either, but law enforcement officials are investigating the incidents for possible connections.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 3:00am

Scholars and others are protesting a plan to largely end public access to the Georgia Archives, which includes key documents and collections dating back to the Colonial era, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. State officials say that they don't like the idea, but have no choice due to budget cuts. A petition to keep the archives open has attracted more than 13,000 signatures. James R. Grossman, president of the American Historical Association, released a letter he sent to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, criticizing the planned closure of public access. "The records of any government represent the heritage of its people, and can serve that role only when its citizens have access to consult those records," Grossman wrote. "Closing the doors to the Archives would represent a devastating blow not only to historians, genealogists, and others with an interest in the past, but also the state’s policymakers and leaders who need a solid understanding of the past to help shape Georgia’s future."


Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 4:24am

A faculty member at Brevard Community College has requested and been granted an unpaid leave after she was alleged to have used class time to urge students to vote for President Obama and handed out campaign material on behalf of the Obama campaign and other Democratic candidates for office, Florida Today reported. Sharon Sweet, the faculty member, did not respond to requests for comment. College officials said that a parent of a student complained reported the allegations, setting off an investigation. "We are a nonpartisan, public institution,” a spokesman for the college said. "It is very important that all of our faculty and staff act in that manner at work and while they’re on campus."


Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 4:26am

The economy's impact on giving to higher education isn't always what one might expect, according to a new study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Using a national sample of colleges and universities, the study found a positive correlation between average income and house values in a state and donations by the people who live in that state. However, the study also found an increase in donations -- especially for operating budgets -- when a university suffers a "negative endowment shock." The latter finding appears correlated to increased efforts by fund-raisers during such periods, and suggests that donors respond to such efforts. The study finds that these donations may be a form of "insurance" against endowment declines.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Richard Aronson of the Florida Institute of Technology reveals the connection between coral growth and El Niño. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.



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