Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, December 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Two students have sued the University of Delaware in federal court, charging that the university is violating their First Amendment rights by barring them from selling T-shirts that say (similar to a taunt used on opposing athletic teams) "U can suck our D," The News Journal reported. The university maintains that its objection is based on trademark infringement, and not the content of the T-shirt.


Monday, December 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Connecticut, Middlebury and Williams Colleges on Friday announced a new effort to diversify the faculties of liberal arts colleges. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is providing funds for the colleges to work with Columbia University and the University of California at Berkeley to organize an annual event where students at 23 liberal arts colleges will learn about graduate school opportunities at research universities and careers for those who earn doctorates, create research internships at the two universities for under-represented students at the colleges, and create postdoctoral fellowships for new Ph.D.s at the universities to experience life at liberal arts colleges.


Monday, December 17, 2012 - 3:00am

More than 30 years ago, Georgetown, Villanova and a group of other universities with Roman Catholic heritages and high-profile basketball programs reshaped the college sports landscape by banding together to form the Big East Conference, challenging the domination of the traditional powers like the Big Ten, Atlantic Coast, and Pacific-10 Conferences. Saturday, having seen their influence erode as the Big East focused on building its football relevance, seven basketball-playing Catholic universities announced that they would head out on their own, probably forming a new league that could end up bearing the Big East name.

The leaders of the universities (DePaul, Marquette, Providence, St. John's and Seton Hall, in addition to Georgetown and Villanova) had watched with dismay in the middle of the last decade as the Big East expanded far beyond its Northeast base to add institutions (like the University of Miami and Virginia Tech) known far more for their football prowess than their basketball success. But when the latest round of football-driven conference realignment cranked up two years ago, other leagues picked away at Big East powers such as Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh, leaving the Big East significantly vulnerable even as it added football-playing members from as far away as Louisiana and Idaho.

The departure of Georgetown and the others will further diminish the Big East's historical relevance as a basketball league, and could result in the conference needing a new name, as the departing Big East members -- whose new league could include institutions such as Butler and Xavier Universities, according to news reports -- could stake a claim to the Big East name.

Monday, December 17, 2012 - 3:00am

The American Economic Association saw a 2.7 percent rise in the number of job announcements for Ph.D.s during 2012, continuing a pattern of recovery from sharp drops as the economic downturn started in 2008. Economics is a discipline where those with doctorates have long had considerable opportunities in the business and finance world, not just in academe. This year's numbers show a 5.7 percent increase for jobs in academe, and a 3.6 percent drop for nonacademic positions. As has been the case in recent years, the top field of specialization in job postings (by far) was mathematical and quantitative methods. That was followed by (in order) microeconomics, international economics and macroeconomics.

Monday, December 17, 2012 - 4:20am

People marked December 12, 2012 (or 12/12/12) in variety of ways. At 12:12 p.m., Sharik Currimbhoy, an entrepreneur in India, gave $12.12 million to Columbia University, his alma mater.

Monday, December 17, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Michelle Miller of Northern Arizona University explains why some types of information are more easily remembered than others. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Friday, December 14, 2012 - 3:00am

Richard M. Joel, president of Yeshiva University, issued an apology Thursday for the way the institution may have handled allegations during the 1970s of sex abuse of boys at a high school the university runs. An investigation by The Forward found that the university dealt with allegations of sex abuse by high school officials by letting them resign and seek employment elsewhere, without the allegations ever being reported to authorities. Norman Lamm, who was president of the university from 1976 to 2003 and is now chancellor, told the newspaper that it was standard practice to let such employees move on. “If it was an open-and-shut case, I just let [the staff member] go quietly. It was not our intention or position to destroy a person without further inquiry," Lamm said.

The statement issued by Joel, the current president, said that there are many procedures and policies in place now to prevent such incidents. His statement also included a university apology for what happened in the past. "The safety and well-being of our students is Yeshiva University’s highest priority. The inappropriate behavior and abuse alleged by The Forward to have taken place in the past, and described in statements attributed by The Forward to Dr. Lamm, are reprehensible," he said. "The actions described represent heinous and inexcusable acts that are antithetical both to Torah values and to everything that Yeshiva University stands for. They have no place here, in our community, or anywhere at all. The thought that such behavior could have occurred at our boys’ high school, or anywhere at this institution, at any time in its past, is more than sufficient reason to express on behalf of the university, my deepest, most profound apology."


Friday, December 14, 2012 - 3:00am

Hampden-Sydney College has expelled one student and punished three others for their roles in an ugly gathering involving racial epithets after President Obama was re-elected. The students' guilt and punishments were determined by student courts. The student who was expelled was found guilty of violating college rules against disruptive behavior, harassment and lewd behavior. A statement from the college said: "Hampden-Sydney College reflects the diversity which is America.  Each day, we successfully live, work, and play together. However, we continue to make this community ever more open, accepting, and embracing of our increasing diversity. Our faculty is designing programming to encourage critical thinking about diversity. The Office of Student Affairs is working with the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities to revisit our residential life program and freshman orientation to ensure that students receive training on becoming 'upstanders' versus 'bystanders.' Most importantly, our student leaders are engaged in serious, thoughtful dialogue, have pledged to respect differences, and are committed to set the example for other students."


Friday, December 14, 2012 - 3:00am

The admissions office at the University of Chicago has received an unusual package -- addressed to Henry Walton Jones Jr. (Indiana Jones, in other words). The package, as detailed on the admissions office's blog, included a detailed replica of a journal from a character in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The admissions office is still trying to figure out who sent the package, and why, and has posted some theories.


Friday, December 14, 2012 - 3:00am

Twelve British universities have created Futurelearn as a platform for MOOCs (massive open online courses) to be available free to anyone in the world, Times Higher Education reported. Courses will be offered by:

  • Cardiff University
  • King's College, University of London
  • Lancaster University
  • The Open University
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bristol
  • University of East Anglia
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Southampton
  • University of St. Andrews
  • University of Warwick


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