Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 3:00am

Yale University, which recently announced that it is phasing out an institute to study anti-Semitism, is creating a new institute to study the same subject. The soon-to-be-gone center received an unfavorable review from a faculty committee, but some in the pro-Israel blogosphere have suggested that its elimination resulted from its willingness to talk about Muslim anti-Semitism in ways that made some uncomfortable. Others, however, including experts in anti-Semitism, have raised questions about whether the original center mixed advocacy with scholarship in a way that may have been inappropriate. The news that Yale is creating a new center (under direct control of faculty members, unlike the original center) was praised by the Anti-Defamation League, which had criticized the decision to eliminate the first center.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 3:00am

California legislators have affirmed in drafts of the state budget that the University of California may not spend state funds on athletics. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the move followed a request by the university to ease a previous ban. University officials said that they made the request for bookkeeping reasons, and not out of any desire to spend state funds on athletics. But after Brian Barsky, a computer science professor at the Berkeley campus, noticed and criticized the request, lawmakers explicitly banned any state spending on athletics.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 3:00am

The Nassau Community College Academic Senate voted last week to declare its lack of confidence in President Donald P. Astrab. The move followed a decision by the college's trustees to renew Astrab's contract despite faculty objections. Kimberley Reiser, chair of the Academic Senate, said in a statement: "Many of the faculty expressed concern that the president used the current budget crisis as an excuse to impose an autocratic management style, disregard faculty advice in areas of their expertise, seek to diminish academic standards, create a new management structure that was inconsistent and non-communicative, and effect an illusion of consultation."

The college issued statements from the board defending the renewal of the president's contract, and from Astrab. His statement said: "Recognizing the fiscal challenges ahead of us, one of the first things I did upon becoming president was to establish budget task forces that included membership from every campus constituency in order to engage them in the process and solicit their ideas. Since then, my days and weeks at the college have been filled with continuous meetings with the various component parts of the 'academic side of the house.' State law envisions faculty input, and I respect that. But it also makes clear that it is the college’s Board of Trustees that establishes college policy."

Monday, June 20, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Linda Schadler discusses why nanoparticles have the potential to make almost everything better. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, June 20, 2011 - 3:00am

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents on Friday approved a continuation of Salisbury University's policy -- first adopted five years ago as a pilot -- of letting students who graduate from high school with a 3.5 or higher grade point average opt out of submitting an SAT or ACT score. A study done by the university found that students who enrolled without submitting test scores outperformed those who submitted them in course completion and graduation rates, while the two groups were similar in grade-point averages at the university.

Monday, June 20, 2011 - 3:00am

Donations to education increased by 5.2 percent in 2010 (3.5 percent when adjusted for inflation), according to "Giving USA," an annual report released today. The report notes that giving to elementary and secondary schools, and to colleges, rebounded in the late part of the year. The rate of growth for education exceeds that for all charitable giving for the year -- 3.8 percent (or 2.1 percent adjusted for inflation).

Monday, June 20, 2011 - 3:00am

The College Board is today launching a new campaign to promote educational attainment and economic success of young minority males. The effort starts with the release of two reports -- one summarizing statistics and research, and the other featuring interviews with young minority males. A statistic that dramatizes the extent of the problem: Nearly half of young men of color age 15 to 24 who graduate from high school will end up unemployed, incarcerated or dead.

Monday, June 20, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Alberta announced Friday that Philip Baker is stepping down as medical dean (although staying on as a professor). The move follows a dispute over his speech to graduates this month -- a talk that students discovered was nearly identical to one that Atul Gawande, a surgeon, gave to Stanford University medical students last year. Gawande's speech was subsequently republished in The New Yorker, and students said that one of the few changes made by Baker was leaving out a few lines about the U.S. Medicare system. In a statement Friday, Baker said he did not want to detract from the accomplishments of the graduating class. "My hope is that the university and the faculty will be able to put this unfortunate incident behind them, and that this will bring closure for the university, the faculty and my family," he said.

Monday, June 20, 2011 - 3:00am

At a time of scrutiny for Ohio State University athletes, including questions about some athletes' alleged use of free cars, WBNS-10TV News reported that Ohio State's athletics director and director of compliance for athletes both have "courtesy" cars provided by local dealers. While the cars for the sports officials do not violate rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, some observers said it was odd for the university to have officials charged with preventing the use of free cars driving them. Bret Adams, a sports agent, told the station: "I don't understand why -- given the scrutiny that is happening at Ohio State -- why the compliance office would risk this relationship?"

Monday, June 20, 2011 - 3:00am

Senator Dianne Feinstein announced Friday that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which she chairs, would investigate reports that the Bush administration sought to have intelligence officers gather information to discredit a University of Michigan professor, The New York Times reported. The professor, Juan Cole, is an expert on the Middle East with a wide following for his blog, Informed Comment, which was harshly critical of the Bush administration's policies. On his blog, Cole noted his frustration at being a target of the administration and also questioned the idea that the government would spend time tracking a person who shared his views all the time. "How inept do you have to be to enlist intelligence officials in monitoring bloggers? They put up their thoughts for everyone to see every day," he wrote.

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