The University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh has taken unspecified "corrective action" against Stephen Richards, a criminal justice professor, for encouraging students to sign a petition to recall a state senator, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Anger over legislation to strip most state employees -- including those at public colleges and universities -- of their collective bargaining rights has led to recall campaigns against a number of legislators. A student recorded Richards and turned over the material to Republican Party officials. Richards isn't returning calls seeking comment. The Oshkosh chancellor, Richard Wells, issued a statement noting that the university respects academic freedom, but "Professor Stephen Richards’ classroom comments of March 7 clearly crossed the line into inappropriate political activity."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Many people were shocked that Osama bin Laden was discovered in a city. But this week's big news was entirely consistent with a project by ecosystem geographers at the University of California at Los Angeles, who published an article in 2009 stating an 89.9 percent chance that bin Laden would be found in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was killed, Science reported. The work was done by two UCLA geographers, Thomas Gillespie and John Agnew, and a class of undergraduates. They published their findings in MIT International Review.
The dispute between Amazon and college bookstores is heating up. Amazon is now seeking a court order declaring that it is not false or misleading for it to claim discounts of 30 percent on new college textbooks and up to 90 percent on used textbooks, Bloomberg reported. The move follows a complaint by the National Association of College Stores, filed with the Better Business Bureau, calling those claims misleading.
The Pacific-10 Conference -- soon to be the Pac-12, with the addition of the Universities of Utah and Colorado at Boulder -- will start its own cable television network next year, according to an article Tuesday in The New York Times. It also notes that, on Wednesday, the conference will announce it has a new agreement with Fox and ESPN worth $3 billion over 12 years to broadcast “most of its marquee football and basketball games.” The television deal is the richest ever for an athletic conference. Unlike some previous agreements, this one will give the Pac-10 complete ownership of its network. The article notes that Fox owns 49 percent of the Big Ten channel and ESPN owns all of the Longhorn Network, a recently announced venture focusing entirely on the University of Texas at Austin.
The Faculty Senate of the College of Charleston held a special meeting Tuesday to vote to condemn George Benson, the president, for reversing a tenure denial, The Post and Courier reported. The professor who was denied tenure before Benson's intervention, and who had started a grievance process, is married to the president's chief of staff. Faculty leaders acknowledged that the president has the right to reverse tenure decisions. But they said that doing so without letting the grievance process run its course or consulting with faculty leaders undermined their role. Benson said that, in the future, he would not reverse a tenure decision before the end of the grievance process.
A new WikiLeaks cable shows that the U.S. Embassy in Canada is worried about "anti-American biases" in Canadian universities, The National Post reported. The cable describes incidents observed by an embassy official taking courses at a university in Ottawa of students and faculty members criticizing U.S. policy.
With the smoke not yet cleared from the U.S. Education Department's last round of negotiated rule making -- which produced a series of new regulations aimed at strengthening the integrity of federal financial aid programs and took special aim at for-profit colleges -- the agency appears ready for more. In a statement Friday, department officials said that they would soon be announcing the creation of "one or more negotiated rule making committees to prepare proposed regulations under the Higher Education Act of 1965," and that the agency would hold three public hearings this month (in Tacoma, Wash., Chicago, and Charleston, S.C.) "at which interested parties may suggest issues" for the committee(s) to consider. The announcement gave no clue about what the department might seek to explore in the new round of rule making, as the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities noted with a bit of trepidation.
Susan Su, the president of Tri-Valley University, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that the institution was a sham university operated as a front to help non-Americans obtain U.S. visas, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Authorities said that Su accepted funds -- allegedly for tuition -- in return for visa assistance, not for education.
A study of student use of the Kindle DX at the University of Washington gave the device decidedly mixed reviews, The Seattle Times reported. The study involved first-year graduate students in computer science and engineering -- students who are presumably comfortable with digital information. But seven months into the study, 60 percent of the students had stopped regularly using their Kindles for academic reading. Although the Kindle has note-taking capability, the study found many students preferred to use paper to take notes on what they read on their Kindles.