Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor, and Rick Perry, the current governor of Texas, clashed on science issues in Wednesday night's debate of the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. Huntsman, while declining to name Perry as a candidate who is anti-science, said: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science." But Perry, the current front-runner, repeated his view that there is no consensus on climate change and invoked economic needs and a hero of science to make his point. "The science is -- is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans' economy at -- at -- at jeopardy based on scientific theory that's not settled yet, to me, is just -- is nonsense. I mean, it -- I mean -- and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell." A transcript of the debate may be found here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Faculty members at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus went on strike Wednesday morning, arguing the administration’s new contract offer is unreasonable.

Around noon Wednesday, about 150 faculty members picketed the entrance to the 11,200-student university. The faculty union president Edward Donahue said union members voted overwhelmingly to go on strike after administrators refused to budge on salary levels.

As it stands, the university is asking for a faculty salary freeze for the first year and a combination of lump sum and incremental wage increases over the next four years of the five-year contract, said university spokesman Brian Harmon. Administrators ventured into classrooms Wednesday, explaining the situation to students and leading classes when possible, he said.

Ralph Engelman, a union spokesman, said the problem is with the lack of increases to the base salary levels in the first three years. Lump sum payments during those first three years will not be sufficient, he said. Donahue, who is also a chemistry professor at the university, said the faculty agreed to the one-year salary freeze and to increased costs for the faculty healthcare plan. “We’re only looking for a fair settlement that works out for everybody,” Donahue said. “We’re not asking for the moon.”

Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Nicholas Leadbeater of the University of Connecticut explains how slight differences in molecules can have significant and possibly devastating consequences. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Many students say that they avoid early morning classes so they can get enough sleep to do well. But a study by psychology professors at St. Lawrence University, of students there, finds that the assumption of those who favor sleeping in is only partly correct. The study found that those with later classes indeed get more sleep. But those who get more sleep appear to use their rest to go out more and to abuse alcohol more than do other students. So it is the slightly more tired students who are in the early classes who earn higher grade-point averages, the professors found.

Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 3:00am

The training that new doctors receive during their residencies needs to be updated to make it more relevant to the needs of current patients and more closely linked to when students achieve outcomes than to how long they spend on tasks, says a new report on reforming graduate medical education. The report, released today by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, follows the May release of a report by the Macy Foundation and other groups on transforming medical education to focus on competencies.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Craig Rustici of Hofstra University examines the myth of Pope Joan and explains how efforts to suppress the legend may have solidified Joan's status. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 3:00am

The average medical student spends just five hours in medical school focused on health-care needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals, according to a new Stanford University study that will be published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study is based on a survey of medical school deans. It found that about a third of medical schools devote no time to the issue. However, in what the researchers considered a positive sign, almost all medical students these days are taught, when taking sexual histories of patients, to ask whether they "have sex with men, women or both."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 3:00am

A state auditor has found that Northwest Missouri State University has violated state law by extending some contracts for food services, facilities management and other functions without competitive bids, in exchange for gifts for stadium renovations, The Kansas City Star reported. University officials said that they were trying to move forward to correct any problems.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 3:00am

The board of Southern University on Tuesday deadlocked and failed to adopt a resolution allowing the Baton Rouge campus to declare financial exigency, the Associated Press reported. Some university leaders have said that such a declaration is needed to impose cuts, but faculty leaders have argued that sufficient spending shifts could be made without declaring exigency. A declaration of exigency could lead to cuts of tenured faculty positions.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are trying to promote discussion of a statue of a Confederate soldier on the campus, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. Many students say that the statue -- dedicated in 1913 and known as "Silent Sam" -- is a symbol of white supremacy. Some students want it taken down, while others argue for moving it, changing its plaque, adding another statue or simply promoting more discussion of what the symbolism is. Last week, students taped a temporary notice to the statue that reads: "This memorial to Confederate soldiers who left the university perpetuates an incomplete and inaccurate history - one that intentionally neglects the vast number of North Carolinians who opposed secession and the Confederacy. The original supporters of this monument, both town and university leaders, were motivated by racism and were colluders in a statewide campaign to establish white dominance."

More information about the student movement is available on its Facebook page. Many other Southern colleges have debated Confederate symbols on their campuses.

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