Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, August 31, 2012 - 4:23am

A T-shirt produced for Ohio State University football fans -- with a reference to arch-rival the University of Michigan and the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Pennsylvania State University -- is causing much outrage, USA Today reported. The shirt says: "I'd rather shower at Penn State than cheer for the Wolverines." Similar T-shirts have appeared with other university rivalries referenced. Karen Days, president of the Center for Family Safety and Healing,in Columbus, Ohio said: "I was so encouraged by the support of victims and outcry. We get so far ahead, and then something like this happens. It's almost one of those times when you think, 'When are we really ever going to change the culture?'"

Friday, August 31, 2012 - 3:00am

Harvard University is investigating about 125 students -- nearly 2 percent of all undergraduates -- who are suspected of cheating on a take-home final during the spring semester, The Boston Globe reported Thursday. The students, who will appear before the college’s disciplinary board over the coming weeks, seem to have copied each other’s work, the dean of undergraduate education said. Those found guilty could face up to a one-year suspension. The dean would not comment on whether students who had already graduated would have their degrees revoked but he did tell the Globe, “this is something we take really, really seriously.” Harvard administrators said they are considering new ways to educate students about cheating and academic ethics. While the university has no honor code, the Globe noted, its official handbook says students should “assume that collaboration in the completion of assignments is prohibited unless explicitly permitted by the instructor.”

Friday, August 31, 2012 - 3:00am

Richard C. Levin announced Thursday that he will step down as president of Yale University at the end of the current academic year, at which point he will have served in that role for 20 years. He is the longest serving president in the Ivy League and in the Association of American Universities. His tenure saw significant fund-raising gains, major renovations and expansions to Yale's campus and a much improved relationship with New Haven (which had seen considerable tensions prior to Levin's presidency). The Yale announcement details these and other accomplishments.

Under Levin, Yale stuck to its policy of opposing graduate student unions, and the administration faced criticism from union advocates. Levin also strongly backed a new Yale effort to open, together with the National University of Singapore, a liberal arts college in Singapore. Many faculty members have criticized the idea (which is going forward), raising questions about human rights in Singapore and whether faculty members at Yale were given an appropriate role in deciding whether to go ahead with the project.

Friday, August 31, 2012 - 3:00am

The advanced education minister in British Columbia has sent a notice to universities, urging them to be vigilant that strip clubs may be trying to recruit students, Maclean's reported. "Students, who often feel new stresses due to new living environments and managing their own affairs for the first time, may be tempted by these monetary inducements," said the letter from the minister, Naomi Yamamoto. Her concern follows reports from Windsor, Ontario about strip club owners there offering to pay tuition for female students willing to strip -- and to maintain a B average in the courses.


Friday, August 31, 2012 - 3:00am

British authorities have barred London Metropolitan University from enrolling foreign students, leaving currently enrolled students in a quandary and setting off concern among many British universities, Times Higher Education reported. Government investigators found that many foreign students at the university did not have authorization to be there, and that many of those who did lacked sufficient English language skills to benefit. The 2,600 students from outside Britain who are enrolled at London Metropolitan have 60 days to enroll at another university or to leave the country. Leaders from other universities in Britain said that they are worried that the incident will reflect on their institutions, and some questioned whether the government could have worked to find other ways to resolve concerns about London Metropolitan.


Friday, August 31, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Catherine Haslam of the University of Exeter reveals how our attitudes about our age can influence our performance on mental tasks. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Texas at Austin announced Wednesday that it has it has closed an inquiry into allegations of scientific misconduct against one of its faculty members, Mark Regnerus, over a paper he wrote that found children are generally better off if they have a married mother and father. The paper, which appeared in the journal Social Science Research, has been highly controversial. Many scholars have said that his sampling techniques resulted in a pool of research subjects that resulted in unfairly negative assessments about the children of same-sex couples -- and one writer on the issue filed a complaint of scholarly misconduct. Critics of same-sex marriage have showered praise on the study.

Under Texas rules, all such complaints are evaluated to determine whether a full-scale investigation is needed, which in this case the university said was not needed. The university said that there was no evidence of scientific misconduct, even that scholarly disagreement could not be considered misconduct.

A memo released by the university outlined the reasons for dropping the matter: "Whether the research ... possessed significant limitations or was even perhaps seriously flawed is a determination that should be left to debates that are currently underway in the academy and future research that validates or invalidates his findings. Professor Regnerus has stated that the data on which the research at issue was based will soon be made publicly available. At that time scholars can examine the data themselves and arrive at their own conclusions."


Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 3:00am

A new survey of parents by Fidelity has found that only 31 percent with college-bound children are considering "the total cost" of college, defined as including graduating with debt, and the impact of college attended and program completed on earnings potential. Of families looking broadly at those issues, a majority are changing their plans due in part to concerns about student loan debt. More than a third are opting for less expensive colleges than they might have considered earlier.

Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 3:00am

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, the Big Easy found itself once again pummeled by a powerful storm. While it lacks the force of its notorious predecessor, Hurricane Isaac has brought powerful winds and many inches of rain to the storm-weary Gulf Coast, leaving hundreds of thousands without power in New Orleans and elsewhere in Louisiana. Among the many people and places that have lost electricity: Dillard University, one of the institutions hardest-hit by Katrina.

While no campus wants to find itself in the path of a hurricane, Dillard's new president, Walter Kimbrough, said that he expects the university will come through the storm relatively unscathed, suffering only from downed power lines, fallen tree limbs, and perhaps some roof damage.

A key difference between Isaac and Katrina: "Last time, that levee [next to Dillard] broke -- it poured right into the back of campus," Kimbrough said. Now, Dillard is safeguarded by a whole new flood protection system -- which Kimbrough, in a prescient move, personally toured just a few weeks earlier. As a result, Kimbrough believes, flooding is "not an issue for us."

Dillard students were sent to Centenary College, in Shreveport, safely out of the way of the storm; Kimbrough remains at his home in New Orleans, waiting for the winds to die down enough that he can get out and inspect the damage to his campus. But he is confident that Dillard, along with the rest of New Orleans, is much better-prepared this time around: "I think now people understand the new realities of this region, [that] based on the things that are happening to the topography, we're more susceptible [to hurricanes]."

Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Mark Bertness of Brown University reveals how sport fishing is damaging marshes along Cape Cod. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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