Humboldt University, Berlin's oldest university, announced Monday that Google is setting up a research institute there, the Associated Press reported. The research center will study the evolution of the Internet and its role in science, politics, economics and other parts of life. Other partners will be the Berlin University of Arts, the Social Science Research Center Berlin and the Hamburg Hans-Bredow-Institute
Higher Education Quick Takes
An American Bar Association panel reviewing standards used to evaluate law schools is leaning toward requiring more job protection for clinical law instructors and others who work full time, but off the tenure track, The National Law Journal reported. Many such instructors currently work on year-to-year or semester-to-semester contracts, providing little job security. The plan gaining support would require law schools to have a system of "presumptively renewable long-term contracts" for such instructors. While that would fall short of tenure, it would represent improvements for many instructors, committee members believe.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals has upheld the right of the University of Minnesota to discipline a student in a mortuary sciences program who posted jokes about a cadaver on a Facebook page, Minnesota Public Radio reported. The student argued that the First Amendment protects the posts, but the appeals court found that the university could take action if it could "reasonably conclude" that the Facebook postings would "materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school."
The University of Texas System has sued Ryan O'Neal, the actor and long-time companion of the late Farrah Fawcett, charging that he has held on to an Andy Warhol portrait of the late actress that belongs in the art museum of the university's Austin campus, The Austin American-Statesman reported. The university argues that Fawcett left all of her art to her alma mater. But a publicist for O'Neal said that Fawcett gave him the portrait in question.
In today’s Academic Minute, Nicholas Leadbeater of the University of Connecticut explains the similarity between molecules and Lego bricks, and reveals how chemists use them to build new and useful compounds. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.
Scientists at the University of Johannesburg, in South Africa, on Friday announced a joint water research agreement involving counterparts at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel; the University of Ghent, in Belgium; and the University of California at Los Angeles. The announcement raised some eyebrows as the Johannesburg faculty voted in March to end ties with Ben-Gurion, saying that the Israeli university was complicit with policies that hurt Palestinians. (Ben-Gurion has maintained that it actually does considerable work with Palestians, and many academic groups have opposed academic boycotts, but the Johannesburg administration followed the faculty vote and allowed to lapse an agreement between the two universities.) While the new agreement has been reported in some publications as an abandonment of the faculty vote, Johannesburg officials say that is not the case. The faculty had the right to bar institutional exchanges, but not those arranged by individual faculty members, the officials said. Ihron Rensburg, vice chancellor at Johannesburg, issued a statement in which he said that the university "upholds academic freedom and the right of its academic staff to develop relationships with whomsoever they wish."
Jason Liptow, an adjunct at Mid Michigan Community College, is charging that he was dismissed shortly after he announced he was going to try to form a union to provide job security for instructors, The Morning Sun reported. College officials said that Liptow violated confidentiality rules by posting a Facebook status update that said "Student emailed me wanting to know how he could pass the class, he hadn’t been there and failed three open-book tests." Liptow said that he did not violate confidentiality since he did not name the student.
Yale University has rejected a call from the Middle East Studies Association for an independent inquiry into the university's decision not to offer a faculty position in 2006 to Juan Cole, a scholar at the University of Michigan who has a wide following for his blog, which is highly critical of U.S. foreign policy. The association called for such an investigation because of recent reports that the Bush administration was trying to undercut Cole's reputation at about the same time that Yale was considering and rejecting him for a position. A letter from Peter Salovey, provost at Yale, to the association, said: "I can assure you in the strongest possible terms that no member of the Bush Administration nor any other government official contacted the president, provost, or two deans involved in overseeing the appointments process in the case of Professor Cole, nor is there any evidence of inappropriate external interference or other impropriety in this appointment matter. We see no reason to compromise the confidentiality of a faculty deliberation on the merits of an appointment by constituting an external faculty committee to conduct an investigation."
California Governor Jerry Brown filed a brief Friday backing a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate the state's referendum banning the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions by the state's public colleges and universities, The Los Angeles Times reported. A federal appeals court recently ruled in a similar case that a Michigan referendum unconstitutionally took away the rights of minority citizens to influence admissions policy. While that decision is being appealed, advocates of affirmative action are hoping for a similar win over California's referendum.
Scientists are increasingly treating addiction as a disease needing treatment. The New York Times noted a consequence of this trend: 10 medical schools have just introduced the first accredited residency programs in addiction medicine.