Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, October 28, 2011 - 3:00am

Trustees at Shorter University, a Baptist institution in Georgia, have voted to add a formal faith statement for the first time, as well as a "personal lifestyle statement" for all university employees that requires them to be members of a local church and and reject all sexual activity "not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality."

Such requirements are not uncommon at Christian colleges, and have been a policy at Shorter for many years, vice president for public relations Dawn Tolbert wrote in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed. Still, the written statements are a first for Shorter, which also added a document on "the integration of faith and learning" that requires faculty and staff members to submit annual plans on how they will integrate their faith with their working life, as well as a philosophy on Christian education. They are part of an effort to brand the college as a more "intentionally Christian university," Tolbert said.

Friday, October 28, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Idaho on Thursday revealed that it had received multiple complaints about Ernesto Bustamante, the psychology professor who killed himself this year shortly after killing a graduate student with whom he had a relationship, the Associated Press reported. The university on Thursday released extensive documents about Bustamante and also announced it was reviewing its policies on relationships between faculty members and students. Bustamante told the university he was bipolar shortly after he was hired, but he also indicated that he was receiving appropriate treatment and medication. Duane Nellis, the university president, said at a press briefing that the university cannot dismiss people for being bipolar. "We, as an institution when we hire people, we’re not allowed to ask for medical conditions, or anything like that," Nellis said. "Bipolar is something that’s certainly treatable."

Friday, October 28, 2011 - 4:23am

A year after two female students at Marquette University said that they were sexually assaulted by athletes there, one of them gave an interview to The Chicago Tribune to discuss how the incident -- and her decision to report it -- have changed her life. In the last year, five Marquette athletes were accused of sexual assault by three female incidents, and while all have been punished in various ways by the university, they have all been permitted to continue to play on their teams. The various incidents -- in particular the one reported by the woman interviewed by the Tribune -- led to increased scrutiny of the way the university handled allegations athletes, and pledges of reforms. The woman talked about the experience of having her name leaked, of having athletes pressure her to take back her allegations and of losing many friends. "It was a traumatizing experience that I would not wish on my worst enemy," she said. "I realize that the majority of people this happens to don't do anything about it because they're scared.… But I wanted to do something so that maybe it would happen to one less girl and to let these guys know that they're not invincible."

Friday, October 28, 2011 - 3:00am

More than 7,000 people have signed a petition calling for Florida lawmakers to defend the liberal arts. The campaign started after Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, questioned the value of educating more people in fields such as anthropology. The governor suggested that the state needs to focus on science and technology fields. But the petition states that bashing other disciplines will not promote STEM education. "Innovation and scientific discovery do not happen in a vacuum. To create the problem-solvers of tomorrow we need to maintain a well-rounded curriculum. The issue with low graduation rates in STEM programs need to be addressed at the K-12 level, not through attacks on higher education," says the petition. "Florida universities are not vocational schools. Their task is to teach students to think critically and to provide a well-rounded education, which absolutely involves the liberal arts. No government has the right to tell an individual what their chosen career should be nor does it have the right to qualify one discipline as superior to another."

Friday, October 28, 2011 - 4:26am

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on Thursday approved the elimination of undergraduate programs in physics at Prairie View A&M University and Texas Southern University, rejecting appeals from the historically black institutions, The Houston Chronicle reported. The board has identified hundreds of programs for elimination, based on low enrollment. But advocates for those two physics programs questioned why the state would be cutting off opportunities to produce more black scientists at a time that many experts say that the only way the United States will achieve its goals in science education is with more participation from all racial and ethnic groups.

 

Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 3:00am

A federal judge on Wednesday extended a restraining order barring Linn State Technical College from going ahead with its plan to test all new students for illegal drugs, the Associated Press reported. Judge Nanette Laughrey, while not issuing a final ruling on the legality of the plan, suggested it will run into trouble. Students, backed by civil liberties groups, are challenging the drug-testing plan.

Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 3:00am

Israel is experiencing a growth in private master's programs -- which receive no government support -- at otherwise government-funded universities, Haaretz reported. In the last six years, the number of such programs has increased from 26 to 51. The programs charge much higher tuition than the rest of the universities that house them, and proponents say that these offerings help provide funds for the rest of higher education. But critics say the growth of these programs is creating a two-tiered system, where those who can afford to pay more get better access to high-demand programs than do other students.

 

Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 4:32am

A federal judge has rejected a conservative student group's suit against the University of Wisconsin at Madison over student fees, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. The conservative students noted that a similar liberal group had received funds, but the judge noted that subsequent to the suit being filed, the liberal group's funding was ended. If there is evidence in the future of viewpoint discrimination, the judge said, the conservative group could sue again.

 

Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 4:37am

Southern University at Baton Rouge is ending Friday classes next semester, condensing the course schedule to a four-day week, The Advocate reported. The move is expected to save money on utility costs in classroom buildings, while freeing up more time for student advising and faculty office hours on Friday. Employees will all still be required to work on Fridays.

Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 4:40am

In the year since a student at the University of Notre Dame died when the aerial lift on which he was making videos of practices for the football team fell, many colleges and universities have changed their policies on the use of such lifts, the Associated Press reported. Some universities -- including Notre Dame -- have stopped using the lifts, which were designed for construction sites, not football fields. Others have continued their use but have issued new policies, such as barring their use on particularly windy days.

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