The American Museum of Natural History, in New York City, is starting a 15-month master of arts program in teaching to train earth science teachers, The New York Times reported. Tuition will be free and students will receive $30,000 stipends and health insurance.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Education ministers and academics from the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia have formed the Visegrad Group to promote improvements in their higher education systems, The New York Times reported. With increased student mobility in Europe, leading educators in the four countries want to make sure their graduates' credentials are well-respected elsewhere, and that their programs are competitive.
Anonymous e-mail messages sent to faculty members at the University of Illinois came from the laptop of Lisa Troyer, then chief of staff to Michael Hogan, president of the university system, according to an outside investigation released by the university on Friday. Troyer left her position after an inquiry started. Many faculty members were alarmed by the prospect that an administrator was trying to influence governance decisions through anonymous e-mail messages. The outside investigation said that the e-mail messages were sent during a time that Troyer had possession of the laptop, and that there was no evidence of hacking. Troyer sent The Chicago Tribune an e-mail in which she said: "I did not write or send the emails under question.... I had nothing to do with these emails and, although the source and motivation have not yet been uncovered, I believe that in the fullness of time, the truth behind this matter will be revealed."
A South Carolina jury has awarded $1 million to two boys who were forced to play a "choking game" while at a Clemson University summer camp in 2008, The Post and Courier reported. The lawsuit charged that Clemson should not have let the counselor have access to the boys without a background check that would have turned up red flags. A university spokeswoman said that an appeal is planned because "we believe the award is excessive" and "is not supported by the facts in the case."
California leads the nation in unaccredited colleges, The New York Times reported. Nearly 1,000 unaccredited or "questionably accredited" institutions operate in the state, frequently ignoring state regulations. "There are a lot of schools that beg the question 'What exactly is going on in California?' " Eyal Ben Cohen, managing director of Accredibase Limited, a company based in London that monitors diploma mills, told the Times. "California has very weak oversight procedures as far as allowing an institution to operate within its borders. An institution within California can obtain a license very easily."
Washington and Lee University will hold classes today, over the objections of students who wanted classes called off to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, The Washington Post reported. Colleges' practices on calling off classes for the holiday vary. While some colleges observe the day without classes, many colleges hold classes on most federal holidays, not wanting to have fewer sessions held on Mondays than on other days. And many colleges have long January breaks, so that classes wouldn't be held today in any case. At Washington and Lee, the issue is complicated by the university's observance (later this week) of Founders' Day on the birthday of Robert E. Lee, one of those for whom the university is named. On that day, students have a shorter class schedule so that they can attend a convocation. A university spokesman said that the university honors King's memory with programs that show respect for the late civil rights leader's legacy. "We believe that canceling classes is not the only way, or even necessarily the most meaningful way, to demonstrate that respect," the spokesman said.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers (the national faculty union in Canada) on Thursday criticized the government for naming Shirley Tilghman, Princeton University's president, as co-chair of the Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) program selection board. The research chairs program has provided funds for Canadian research universities to recruit top professors from all over the world, and Canadian academics have closely watched the work of the panel that has picked winners. The statement from James L. Turk, executive director of the faculty group, did not name Tilghman, and he stressed that the group had no fault with her -- only with her serving while being president of an American university. "We were surprised and disappointed at the announcement today that no Canadian university president or other academic was deemed distinguished enough to be named co-chair," Turk said in the statement. "There is no shortage of Canadian university presidents and other distinguished academics at Canadian universities who could more appropriately have filled the role."
Canadian officials praised Tilghman for agreeing to serve on the panel, noting that she was raised in Winnipeg. A Princeton official confirmed that she remains a Canadian citizen. It appears that Princeton may have a fondness for Canadian leaders. Tilghman has been president since 2001. She succeeded Harold T. Shapiro, a Montreal native with dual Canadian and American citizenship.
Liberty University has just sold $100 million in bonds, bringing its total debt to $228 million, to finance expansion, Bloomberg reported. The Christian university has $225 million in projects planned in the next five years, including a library, a baseball stadium and a school of health sciences.