Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 3:00am

In 2009, the Association of Research Libraries urged its members to stop agreeing to nondisclosure agreements on pricing of journal packages, finding that these pacts were undercutting the ability of universities to negotiate fair deals. The Cornell University Library has now taken a public stand consistent with the ARL recommendation. A statement posted on the library website explains: "Occasionally in licenses governing electronic resources, publishers will request that the Cornell University Library (CUL) treat the subscription price as confidential information and not disclose it to third parties. In the past, some libraries have tolerated these clauses in the belief that they might result in a lower cost. This, however, is a position that CUL can no longer accept. It has become apparent to the library community that the anticompetitive conduct engaged in by some publishing firms is in part a result of the inclusion of nondisclosure agreements in contracts."

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

Matthew Cucchiaro, a graduate student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has resigned from his position as diversity director of the student government after the dean of students approached him with concerns about a blog post, The Boulder Daily Camera reported. Officials at the student government confirmed that Cucchiaro was asked to resign and did so. The post, which Cucchiaro said was "clearly satirical," ran on his blog, StupidHumanBeings.com. In the post (currently labeled as satire), he identifies women as that day's "stupid" subject for the blog. Part of the post: "Guys, I don’t need to tell you this: women are not as smart as men. Now before all you chicks look up from your gossip mags and yammer on and on as you do about how that’s sexist, I don’t mean all women – I’m sure there are a couple of heffers in congress or the senate who are about on par with the average male. Also, that Asian character on Grey’s Anatomy knows some big words but she obviously doesn’t count because … well, she’s Asian. In your defense, look at who your options are for role models on TV: Tyra Banks, the cast of Friends, The Hills, Sex and the City, and women on Lifetime."

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

A Texas state representative has filed legislation that would bar public colleges from penalizing students or faculty members based on their research or beliefs that reject evolution, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. It is unclear what impact the bill would have on grading. Anti-evolution groups say that academic freedom should allow people to argue that evolution is not accurate, despite the consensus among scientists.

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

A teaching assistant at Canada's York University has apologized for critical comments she posted on her Facebook page about her students, The Toronto Star reported. The comments, now removed, said: “My student’s papers are making me dumber, so very stupid; by the minute. Please, make them, stop. They are infecting me with there huge and apparent stupidity, and I fear they will start to effect in my opinion the way I myself right papers (sic).”

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

Alexandra Wallace, who made a now notorious video mocking and complaining about Asian students, announced Friday that she is leaving the University of California at Los Angeles, because of death threats and ostracism, the Los Angeles Times reported. She has apologized several times for the video and did so again in announcing her departure. Also on Friday, UCLA announced that while it had denounced the video, it had no plans to take disciplinary action against Wallace because her actions did not violate the campus code of conduct.

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

Significant cuts in Georgia's popular but expensive HOPE scholarships (which primarily help those at public institutions) have some educators and politicians raising questions about why state funding for programs that help private colleges is remaining stable, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Private college officials note that the funds they receive for educating Georgians free up space at public institutions for other students. But that argument isn't going over at a time of big cuts for HOPE. “It is clear the current political leadership in this state tilts toward private education over public education,” said State Senator Nan Orrock.

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, John Mutter of Columbia University’s Earth Institute reveals that in the wake of a natural disaster, the poor often face a unique set of challenges to survival and recovery. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

There's a new online satire of life working at a college -- the fictional Juniper College. Episodes look at gossip, ambition, frustrations and many other situations familiar to all who work at colleges. The stories are told through the perspective of an adjunct. As The Altoona Mirror reported, most of those involved in the project have ties to Juniata College, a real institution with similarities to Juniper. The show, "Office Hours," may be found here.

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

The Education Department's new rules on the credit hour, state authorization of postsecondary institutions, misrepresentation and incentive compensation are being challenged on a range of fronts. But for now, the regulations are set to take effect on July 1, and the department late last week published guidance designed to answer the many questions college officials have about the rules. College leaders were generally unimpressed with the "Dear Colleague" letters, one of which covered the department's move to establish a federal definition of the "credit hour," and the other, regulations that expand state authorization requirements, crack down on misrepresentation of colleges' programs and results, and limit the use of incentive compensation.

"We appreciate that the department finally published" the guidance, said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, which had urged the department to rescind the rules on the credit hour and state authorization and has now asked Congress to delay their implementation. The guidance "clarified some of the things we were concerned about ... but in terms of the fundamental concerns, it doesn't help very much. Schools will find some relief, but not a great deal."

Russell Poulin, deputy director for research and analysis at the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, was even more critical in a detailed analysis of the guidance on state authorization.

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

A state judge in Wisconsin temporarily blocked a controversial state law that would bar faculty unions at the University of Wisconsin System and limit collective bargaining by most public workers in the state, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The judge ruled in a suit backed by critics of the law, but her finding was focused not on the substance of the law, but on lack of required notice given for a key committee vote on the bill. The judge indicated that legislators could take new votes to make the issues in the suit moot, but for now Republicans who pushed the law are vowing to fight her ruling.

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