Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 17, 2013

Chen Guangcheng, the dissident from China who has held a fellowship at New York University for the last year, said that NYU was kicking him out because of concerns that his criticism of China was harming the university's interests there, The New York Times reported. While speculation about Chen's departure has circulated for several days, his statement Sunday was Chen's first on the matter. He and others have noted that NYU has a new campus in Shanghai and that many NYU faculty members need visas to travel back and forth to China. “The work of the Chinese Communists within academic circles in the United States is far greater than what people imagine, and some scholars have no option but to hold themselves back,” Chen said. “Academic independence and academic freedom in the United States are being greatly threatened by a totalitarian regime.”

NYU responded with its own statement, denying that Chinese politics had anything to do with Chen's departure. The issue was simply that his fellowship was over, the university said. “We are very discouraged to learn of Mr. Chen’s statement, which contains a number of speculations about the role of the Chinese government in N.Y.U.’s decision-making that are both false and contradicted by the well-established facts,” said an NYU spokesman.

 

June 17, 2013

The budget bill for California higher education for the coming year will include increased reporting requirements, but not a direct linkage between increased funding and accomplishing certain goals, The Los Angeles Times reported. Governor Jerry Brown had wanted public higher education -- as a condition of more money -- to improve graduation rates, enroll more low income students and freeze tuition. But higher education leaders said that those goals might not be possible given the severity of budget cuts over the last decade. Legislators generally accepted that argument.

 

June 17, 2013

Students who enroll at a Roman Catholic college are more likely to receive a degree within four years than their peers at public or for-profit institutions, and graduation rates at Catholic colleges also exceed the rates at private nonprofit colleges in general, according to a report released Friday by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. The report found higher four-, five- and six-year graduation rates for all entering students at Catholic colleges than the average for the public, for-profit or private nonprofit sectors.

June 14, 2013

Faculty members at St. Cloud State University have noticed an increasing number of instances in where failing or low grades were removed from students' transcripts without the professors being consulted, Minnesota Public Radio reported. Devinder Molhotr, the provost, said that it has become clear that proper protocol -- which would include faculty consultation -- hasn't always been followed. He said that a "very specific protocol" should prevent future problems.

June 14, 2013

Periodic debates break out among historians over whether the field of military history receives sufficient attention. In an effort to promote the field, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation has announced a new $50,000 prize for the best military history book each year. Josiah Bunting III, president of the foundation, said in a statement: "It is our hope that the establishment of this prize will draw public attention to the field's continuing utility as an important staple of education in international politics, diplomacy, and conflict, and to assist in the restoration of military history to an important place in university curricula. If we do not learn from the conflicts of the past, we will be doomed to repeat them. For the sake of all, we cannot allow this area of scholarship and thinking to atrophy in the United States or abroad."

 

June 14, 2013

In a decision that could have ramifications for medical researchers, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that isolated human genes could not be patented, though it said synthetic genes could be eligible for patents. Researchers hailed the decision, saying it brings clarity to a fast-changing area of research and opens that area up to greater investigation.

“The right to control exclusively the use of a patient’s genes could have made it more difficult to access new tests and treatments that rely on novel technologies that can quickly determine the sequence of any of the estimated 20,000 genes in the human genome,” said Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, in a statement. “Such approaches form the cornerstone of the rapidly emerging field of personalized medicine, in which diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive strategies can be tailored to each person’s unique genetic makeup.”

The case attracted attention from the higher education community, with multiple research and law groups weighing in on it at various levels. Groups such as the American Medical Association opposed the right to patent genes. The Association of University Technology Managers, a group that represents technology-transfer officers, supported the right.

June 14, 2013

Three current or former Purdue University students face charges of conspiracy to commit computer tampering and conspiracy to commit burglary to hack into computer networks to change grades, The Indianapolis Star reported. Some of the alleged grade changes were from A to A+ while others were from F to A. The investigation that led to the charges started when an engineering professor noticed that his password had been changed.

 

June 14, 2013

Following the creation of a petition that called for the “immediate removal” of a faculty member who was accused of sexually harassing a student, some students received an e-mail from San Jose State University saying he no longer works at the university.

The petition was in response to an NBC Bay Area news segment that aired in May. A female student, who wished to remain anonymous, told NBC that Jeffry Mathis — a part-time lecturer in the kinesiology department — sexually assaulted her. According to a university report obtained by NBC, Mathis admitted to “kissing and touching the student,” but said it was consensual. After seeing the news segment, San Jose State student Sasha Bassett created the change.org petition with a group of students who called themselves Students for the Accountability of Jeffry Mathis. After receiving 608 signatures on the petition by June 3, Bassett said she, one other member of the group and NBC received this e-mail message from San Jose State President Mo Qayoumi and sent by his chief of staff, Dorothy Poole:

SJSU Students,

We share your concern about the recent NBC 11 story describing an alleged sexual battery case at SJSU involving a lecturer, Jeffry Mathis and a female student. We are writing today to let you know that SJSU cares about and is firmly committed to providing a safe environment for everyone in the campus community. We strive to implement timely and appropriate actions to protect our community members, including promptly, carefully and thoroughly investigating all complaints, followed by appropriate responses and actions.  If there is any reason to believe a crime has occurred or safety is at risk, the University Police Department is contacted, and if appropriate, the matter is referred to the Santa Clara County District Attorney. 

 Regarding the allegations made in the news report, the university conducted a thorough internal investigation in addition to a police investigation immediately after the student filed the complaint. Based on those investigations, the university took appropriate action.  Because this is a personnel matter, the specific details of the actions taken are confidential.  However, Mr. Mathis is no longer employed by SJSU.

Mohammad Qayoumi,

President

Bassett said the group was hoping for more details explaining whether Mathis was removed from or voluntarily left his position at San Jose State.

“Our main goal was transparency within the school, and I think they missed that point,” Bassett said. “It’s not our goal for the school to try and make us go away. We want the school to work with us.”

 

June 14, 2013

The U.S. Postal Service has cut off mail delivery to the Phi Delta Theta fraternity after an incident in which fraternity members mistreated a mail carrier, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. The mail carrier received an order for 79 postal supply boxes, which he had to deliver in six or seven trips. After the last trip, fraternity members told him it was a prank and that he should look at the name on the delivery order -- “Reggin Toggaf" -- and read it backwards. Doing so reveals two slurs. The postal service said it will not deliver mail to the fraternity until an apology is made.

UPDATE: The University of Chicago has issued a statement in which it deplores the treatment of the mail carrier but states that the fraternity members deny being responsible for the incident. The statement also says that the university has "no evidence pointing to individuals who might be responsible."

we had no evidence pointing to individuals who might be responsible - See more at: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2013/06/13/university-chicago-responds-...
we had no evidence pointing to individuals who might be responsible - See more at: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2013/06/13/university-chicago-responds-...
June 14, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Gerald Haeffel of the University of Notre Dame explain why college students might be open to catching depression while away at school. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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