Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, March 25, 2011 - 3:00am

Bakersfield College, a two-year institution in California, on Thursday announced a gift of nearly $14 million, most of which will support scholarships. The announcement said the gift was the largest ever to any community college, topping the previous record of $10 million (to Santa Monica City College). Officials of the Council for Resource Development, a group of community college development officials, said that they did not have a definitive list of the largest gifts to community colleges. But at least one community college, Clark College in Washington State, reports that its foundation received gifts that should be counted as the previous top gift at the very least. In the 1990s, Clark received a gift of $12 million and a bequest shortly after of $13 million (from the same donor), and the two donations were so close together that the college has considered them a single gift. But Lisa Gibert, who heads the foundation at Clark, said that they were technically two gifts, so Bakersfield has a claim on the top spot among community college gifts.

Friday, March 25, 2011 - 3:00am

Ralph Nader has a new target: athletic scholarships. Nader is planning to seek support for the campaign from college presidents, Congress and the Education Department, the Associated Press reported. "As we near the exciting conclusion of 'March Madness' — which would more accurately be described as the 2011 NCAA Professional Basketball Championships — it's time we step back and finally address the myth of amateurism surrounding big-time college football and basketball in this country," said Nader. A spokesman for the National Collegiate Athletic Association told the AP that it was unfair for Nader to call college athletes professionals. "They are students, just like any other student on campus who receives a merit-based scholarship," he said.

Friday, March 25, 2011 - 3:00am

The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors has issued a statement decrying the development of a video game that lets the player take on the role of a student who, a la Columbine or Virginia Tech, shoots up classrooms and campuses before killing him- or herself. The game, "School Shooter: North American Tour 2012" is being developed as a modification of Source, a 3D game environment, and its pending development has been gaining notoriety among campus student affairs and legal officials, though they have debated whether drawing attention to the product might lend it credence. The statement from the counseling directors group calls on the makers of the game to stop its production. "As campus mental health professionals who first hand experience the tragedy and devastation that occurs in the aftermath of campus violence," it says, "AUCCCD believes the production of such products is most deplorable and unfortunate."

Friday, March 25, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jennifer Hoyer of the University of Arkansas examines the work of German poet Rainer Maria Rilke and his 21st-century devotee, Lady Gaga. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, March 25, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Thursday revived a bias suit by Fred U. Andes against New Jersey City University. The suit by Andes charges that he was passed over for promotion to full professor because he is Asian. The appeals court's ruling does not address the substance of the allegations, finding only that a lower court was too quick to dismiss the case, and that the lower court should let Andes have a chance to present his case.

Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 3:00am

Ohio University's president has turned down a journalism professor's appeal of an ethics finding against him, even though a Faculty Senate committee found "troubling irregularities" in the work of a campus committee that initially reported the ethics finding. The decision by President Roderick McDavis is the latest development in the convoluted case of Bill Reader, with whom McDavis sided last year in a bitter dispute over Reader's tenure case. That battle spawned an ethics inquiry into whether Reader engaged in nonviolent threats of retaliation following the tenure vote, and the communications college's ethics panel recommended that he be reprimanded. Last month, though, the Faculty Senate's Professional Relations Committee voted 6-0, with one abstention, to dismiss the ethics violations against Reader, citing procedural problems in the ethics panel's work. In a terse statement Monday, McDavis rejected the faculty panel's conclusions and backed the ethics committee's findings.

Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 3:00am

The Organization of American Historians has adopted new standards for the employment of non-tenure-track faculty members, calling for departments to provide them with "clearly stated evaluation procedures," seniority benefits in hiring and pay, health insurance and other benefits, including access to funds for conference travel. On adjunct e-mail lists on Wednesday, the new standards were praised by some, but criticized by others as being too weak and not addressing larger inequities between those on and off the tenure track.

Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Department of Justice has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit in which for-profit colleges challenged the legality of three rules the Education Department has promulgated to tighten regulation of federal student aid. The lawsuit, filed in January by the Association for Private Sector Colleges and Universities, asks the courts to invalidate three of the dozen-plus new rules that the Education Department issued in October; the disputed regulations relate to state authorization of colleges, incentive compensation for recruiters, and misrepresentation of colleges' programs and results. In their brief asking for dismissal of the lawsuit, government lawyers argued that the Education Department was well within its legal authority under the Higher Education Act in promulgating all three rules. The New America Foundation's Higher Ed Watch blog first reported the government's response.

Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Buffalo State College's Dwight Hennessy reveals that while cultures around the globe may be drastically different, the psychology of driving often transcends cultural divides. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 3:00am

Kent State University, facing deep budget cuts, has limited enrollments in American Sign Language courses to those students who need the language for their majors or minors, The Ravenna Record Courier reported. Students say that the limits are discriminatory because non-majors are still permitted in introductory Spanish and other languages. But officials say that sections of those languages have been cut as well, and that there is no money for more ASL sections.

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