Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 13, 2013

A new Romanian-based website aims to crack down on research misconduct worldwide -- by encouraging scholars to submit work that they think might be flawed and soliciting other academics to review the work, Times Higher Education reported. The site, integru.org, describes itself as an "international collaborative effort working to uphold academic integrity and ethical values," leaning on the expertise of scholars in various fields because there is no international authority to judge academic misconduct.

June 13, 2013

Next week, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is scheduled to release a report -- requested by members of Congress -- on the state of the humanities and social sciences. But as The New York Times noted, the timing is anything but favorable. In the last week, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has seen numerous articles in The Boston Globe and elsewhere noting that the academy had applied for grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities stating that Leslie Berlowitz, the head of the academy, has a doctorate. She does not. The academy is investigating the reports just as it is gearing up for the report's release. Berlowitz was one of the key figures in preparing the report.

June 13, 2013

The University of Toronto is moving ahead with controversial plans to replace real grass on some of its athletics fields with artificial turf. Numerous Canadian luminaries have been rallying against the plan, and some hoped they had found a way to block it: having the fields in question (complete with their real grass) be declared a "heritage landscape." The Globe and Mail reported that the plan didn't work, and that the City Council rejected the designation. The university maintained that artificial turf would help students, since the natural grass frequently becomes muddy. One City Council member criticized the way the issue had become so divisive and political. Denzil Minnan-Wong said the issue demonstrated “that anything good, any great program, policy, anything great in this city that the city touches turns to crap. We’ll turn any good news story into a controversy and a bad news story."

June 13, 2013

Gary Russi, president of Oakland University, announced Wednesday that he is stepping down. The Detroit Free Press noted that the announcement, which was a surprise, came the same day the university fired his wife, Beckie Francis, as women's basketball coach. Any connection between the two events was not immediately clear, the newspaper said.

June 13, 2013

Adjuncts and other part-time employees working for public colleges and universities in Washington State could have their health benefits threatened by pending legislation, The Seattle Times reported. Details are vague, which is part of why many are alarmed. And some view the legislation as a bargaining chip. But the budget bill would eliminate state-funded insurance for part-time employees of public schools and public higher ed. The part-time employees would receive an additional $2 an hour to buy coverage options created by the new federal health care law. Many say that most part-timers would end up either having to pay more themselves to maintain coverage or would lose some coverage. The legislation is notable because Washington State has historically provided more health insurance to adjuncts, who have organized around the issue, than has been the case in many other states.

 

June 13, 2013

The uproar over the "KUboobs" Twitter account is being called a "boobment." The account features photographs that women send in showing their cleavage with University of Kansas T-shirts and other KU accoutrements. Fans of other colleges and universities have started similar accounts. Rumors spread this week that the University of Kansas was trying to have the site -- with which it has no affiliation -- shut down. Online outrage followed, along with new hashtags such as #saveKUboobs and #IloveKUboobs. The university has denied trying to shut down the site, maintaining only that it was seeking to prevent the site's founders from selling merchandise that infringes on university trademarks for KU material. The dispute appears to have drawn more attention to the Twitter account, which now has more than 63,000 followers.

June 13, 2013

Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, was sharply critical of the for-profit sector during a hearing Wednesday of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. The hearing was on the U.S. Department of Defense's tuition assistance program for members of the U.S. military. Durbin, who has tangled with for-profits before, grilled Frederick Vollrath, the assistant secretary of defense for readiness and force management, over the Pentagon's oversight of the program. For-profits received half of the $660 million the federal government spent on military tuition assistance last year. Yet Durbin said only 200 department counselors are on hand to help the 200,000 military students who receive tuition assistance. And he said the department audits only 1 percent of participating colleges each year.

June 12, 2013

Princeton University reopened the campus Tuesday evening after evacuating for eight hours due to a bomb threat. A statement from the university said: "The university received a phone call from someone who said multiple bombs were placed throughout campus at unspecified locations. After determining that the threat was credible, university officials ordered the campus evacuated. Faculty and staff were sent home; students were told to go to public places in the town of Princeton, including the Princeton Public Library, the Princeton Arts Council and the Nassau Inn.... Bomb-sniffing dogs were brought in from law enforcement agencies and searched campus in a coordinated effort with university staff members. No explosive devices were found. The university takes all threats to the safety and well being of its community members and visitors seriously."

The University of New Hampshire also received and investigated a bomb threat Tuesday, but did not evacuate, and determined that the threat was a hoax.

June 12, 2013

The faculty athletics representative at the University of Richmond has circulated an e-mail to colleagues calling for the institution to leave Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and to stop playing intercollegiate football, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. "I have come to the conclusion that it’s hard-to-impossible to consistently make DI-level sports conform and submit to the primary institutional focus on academics, because there’s just too much money and ambition involved," said  the e-mail from Rick Mayes, an associate professor of political science. Noting concerns about the impact of concussions on football players, he asked whether it would not be better -- for the sake of athletes and to prevent future lawsuits -- to drop football. University administrators indicated that Richmond has no intention of taking the advice Mayes offered.DI and DIII in quotes are sic per article -sj

June 12, 2013

The foundation of San Francisco State University has agreed to not invest in companies "with significant production or use of coal and tar sands." Further the foundation will seek to limit investments in fossil fuel companies. Advocates for divestment of fossil fuel companies said that they viewed the move as significant. To date, colleges that have embraced divestment have been small, private colleges in the Northeast, while San Francisco State is the first Western or public institution to take such a stand. The foundation's endowment is in the range of $50 million.

 

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