Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 4:30am

Stanford University initially turned down an offer from an organization with ties to China's government for $4 million that would have, in part, endowed a professorship in Chinese culture and language because one condition would have barred professors hired with the funds from talking about Tibet, Bloomberg reported. The funds came through the organization sponsoring Confucius Institutes at many American colleges and universities. (Stanford subsequently accepted the funds in another way, supporting programs for which the Tibet issue didn't come up, and so avoiding the question of Tibet.) Officials from many of the colleges that have taken the funds said that the institutes did not have such strings attached to their funds. But some Asian studies scholars see much too close a connection between the funds and various ambitions of China's government. "By peddling a product we want, namely Chinese language study, the Confucius Institutes bring the Chinese government into the American academy in powerful ways," said Jonathan Lipman, a professor of Chinese history at Mount Holyoke College. "The general pattern is very clear. They can say, 'We’ll give you this money, you’ll have a Chinese program, and nobody will talk about Tibet.' In this economy, turning them down has real costs."

 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Bevil Conway explains how the brain creates color and reveals methods artists have used to compensate for the shifting color palette of human perception. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 4:36am

Colorado voters on Tuesday rejected a referendum that would have, for five years, restored certain taxes cut in recent years, and designated the revenue gained to support schools and colleges. The Denver Post reported that, with 61 percent of precincts reporting, the measure was attracting support from only 35 percent of voters.

 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Academics and literary figures are questioning the decision by Delhi University to stop teaching an essay by a respected academic, A.K. Ramanujan, because its references to Rama, a hero-god, are deemed offensive to some nationalist Hindus, Reuters reported. The move by the university is seen as giving in to political pressure and undercutting freedom of expression. On Twitter, Salman Rushdie called the decision "academic censorship."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 3:00am

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Ohio State University is not entitled to tax exemptions on property it owns but leases to others for non-university use, The Dayton Daily News reported. A lower court ruled that the revenue generated by the rentals constituted university use, but the Supreme Court rejected that argument.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Walter M. Kimbrough has attracted considerable attention as president of Philander Smith College, a historically black college, for efforts to improve black male retention rates and for connecting with students through such tools as his Twitter feed, HipHopPrez. On Tuesday, he was named the next president of Dillard University, a historically black institution in New Orleans that was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina, but that has since bounced back.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Many colleges compete every four years to play host to one of the presidential debates. On Monday, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the 2012 events would be held at the University of Denver, Hofstra University and Lynn University -- with the vice presidential debate to be held at Centre College.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Kristen Ghodsee of Bowdoin College explains why after only two decades, many former Eastern Bloc countries are developing a growing nostalgia for communism. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Investigations by Tilburg and Groningen Universities, in the Netherlands, have found that Diederik Stapel faked research data that was used in at least 30 research papers, Dutch News reported. Stapel, a professor of social and behavioral sciences at Tilburg, was suspended in September as inquiries began into some of his work. In a statement Stapel posted on a newspaper site, he said that he has "failed as a researcher and academic," adding that "I realize now that my behavior has stunned and angered my colleagues and put my area of expertise – social psychology – in a bad light."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Republicans have for weeks been attacking Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the Democratic nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, as a liberal academic, citing her career teaching at Harvard University. Warren's academic ties may be helping her out, however, in raising money from fellow professors. The Associated Press reported that nearly $124,000, or 9 percent of Warren's itemized donations, have come from academics, many of them at leading universities.

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