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."
Higher Education Quick Takes
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.
A plan to pay Elliot Hirshman, the new president of San Diego State University, $400,000 -- $100,000 more than his predecessor -- has legislators and faculty leaders furious, The Los Angeles Times reported. California State University officials say that system presidents aren't underpaid. But critics say that the proposed salary sends a terrible message and wastes money at a time that the state's public universities are facing deep budget cuts and students are being hit with a new round of tuition increases.
Many law schools are making curricular shifts to focus on practical skills instead of legal theory, The Wall Street Journal reported. The article noted that Indiana University's Maurer School of Law has started teaching project management and that the New York Law School has been adding faculty members to teach negotiation, counseling and investigation. Washington and Lee University's law school moved in this direction in 2008, replacing third-year courses with practical training.
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.
One paper involving a Harvard biologist has been retracted, and another has been withdrawn, The Boston Globe reported. The retracted paper appeared in the journal Blood, and the withdrawn paper appeared in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.
A new report by the Sutton Trust has added to concerns about inequities in Britain's elite universities, Times Higher Education reported. In the period of 2007-9, five schools accounted for 5 percent of all students admitted to the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford. That's the same share of the Cambridge and Oxford populations produced -- in total -- by 2,000 other high schools. The report notes that students at some high schools do much better on tests than do students at other high schools. But the analysis suggests that more than test scores are at play. For instance, the research found two schools with nearly identical scores by students on the national tests of academic performance. One school sent 65 percent of students to Britain's 30 top universities, while the other sent 28 percent.