Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, May 6, 2011 - 3:00am

The Daily Lobo, the student newspaper at the University of New Mexico, has apologized for a cartoon of President Obama. The cartoon, based on a scene from The Lion King, shows the president holding the head of Osama bin Laden, and the image was viewed as racist by many black students.

Friday, May 6, 2011 - 3:00am

Gaither Loewenstein quit as president of Modesto Junior College after song lyrics he wrote, featuring off-color humor he used in a singing career, became public, The Modesto Bee reported. Loewenstein had been in office less than a year when his music website (under his stage name) became known. "When somebody takes the job as the president of a college, they are no longer responsible for just themselves. They're responsible for the students, the faculty, the staff, the board of trustees, the chancellor and the district," Loewenstein told the Bee. "In taking on that responsibility it was incumbent on me to take down that web site, and I did not do that. That responsibility lies with myself."

Friday, May 6, 2011 - 3:00am

Indian students for years have considered the United States, Britain and Australia as the top study abroad destinations. But The Economic Times reported that the "red hot locations" today are new: Continental Europe, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand and China.

Friday, May 6, 2011 - 3:00am

A deaf football fan is suing the University of Kentucky in hopes of forcing it to caption all game-related announcements on scoreboards at Commonwealth Stadium. The complaint, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Lexington, cites the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and argues that Charles Mitchell, a Kentucky football season ticket holder, "does not have equal opportunity to enjoy, benefit from, or participate in home games or athletic events, equal to that of individuals without disabilities." Among other actions demanded, the complaint argues that the university should provide captioning on "Jumbotrons and video monitors" at its football stadium for "all of the plays that just occurred, all of the penalties called, safety and emergency information, and any other announcements made over the public address system." Kentucky officials declined to comment on the suit to the Associated Press Thursday. The AP also reported that the suit against Kentucky resembles suits recently brought against Ohio State University and the NFL’s Washington Redskins. Ohio State settled the matter out of court last year and has agreed to provide captioning; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a decision in March requiring that the Redskins provide captioning.

Friday, May 6, 2011 - 3:00am

A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a lower court's ruling dismissing a whistleblower's lawsuit alleging that three private student loan providers violated the False Claims Act by defrauding the government. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit came in a suit brought by a former loan adviser at Nelnet, who sought to hold the lender liable under the False Claims Act for regulatory violations that resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in federal overpayments to the Nebraska lender. But the appeals panel agreed with the lower court that the former employee had failed to show that Nelnet and two other lenders, JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup, had made false claims to the government, as the law requires.

Thursday, May 5, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Texas at Austin has largely resisted the controversial higher education reforms being pushed by Texas Governor Rick Perry and others close to him, but Texas A&M University -- the governor's alma mater -- has been more open to the ideas. For instance, Texas A&M has published rankings of professors' "productivity." But this week, 22 prominent A&M alumni, all of whom have been been designated as "distinguished alumni" for their contributions to the university, are circulating a letter calling for Texas A&M to oppose the governor's ideas, The Houston Chronicle reported. The letter refers to "an extraordinary level of political intervention in our university" that could hurt the university's standing. In particular, the letter questions "proposals to fundamentally change how research universities in Texas fulfill their educational responsibilities."

Thursday, May 5, 2011 - 3:00am

Two months after the faculty of the Rhode Island School of Design overwhelmingly voted no confidence in the school's president and provost, the provost, Jessie Shefrin, has announced she will step down, according to the Providence Journal.

In early March, three-quarters of the faculty at RISD who cast ballots returned a vote of no confidence in Shefrin and in President John Maeda, due, in part, to concerns over management style and to objections over a new strategic plan. Faculty members argued that the plan would weaken the school's core curriculum and academic standards.

Shefrin became provost at RISD in 2008 after serving as dean of graduate studies since 2005. "I will be taking a long-awaited sabbatical next year as I make the transition to pursue other interests," she said in a statement, according to the paper. Maeda has announced a search for an interim provost who will start in the fall and serve for one year.

Thursday, May 5, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, SUNY Purchase College's Richard Gioioso describes a coming shift in the self identification of Cuban-Americans. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, May 5, 2011 - 3:00am

David Protess, a legendary Northwestern University journalism professor known for his efforts to show the innocence of wrongly accused prisoners, is on leave from the university, amid investigations that he lied to the university about his conduct. But The Chicago Tribune reported that he has both signed an agreement not to return to teaching and that he started teaching an "underground class" to students. According to the Tribune, reports are surfacing that he told students to lie about their identities in some past class investigations -- a tactic he says is justified in some cases, but that others question.

Thursday, May 5, 2011 - 3:00am

Britain should consider giving more financial support for private (read: for-profit) providers of higher education and developing a more consistent regulatory framework to monitor them, according to a study reported on by Times Higher Education. The study, by the Higher Education Policy Institute, suggests that the government consider incentives to private institutions to merge with or take over failing public universities. But it also warns that, if Britain isn't vigilant enough in its oversight, it could end up repeating the mistakes of the U.S. higher education system, where for-profit colleges have come under intense scrutiny.

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