Higher Education Quick Takes
University of Oxford officials found themselves in the uncomfortable position of publicly debating with Britain's prime minister over his assertion that the elite institution had enrolled only one black Brit in 2009, BBC News reported. Prime Minister David Cameron made his comment during a public session in answer to a question about the impact of greatly increased fees that British institutions have begun charging as part of a new approach to university financing. Cameron said: "I saw figures the other day that showed that only one black person went to Oxford last year.... I think that is disgraceful. We have got to do better than that."
University officials disputed the statement, the BBC reported, saying that only one British undergraduate from that year's class had self-identified as "black-Caribbean," but that another 26 had identified themselves as either "black-African" or "black-other," among others who characterized themselves as mixed race with some black heritage. In total, in 2009 22% of Oxford University students were from ethnic minorities, the institution said.
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, one of Korea's top universities, has seen four student suicides since January, The Wall Street Journal reported, and a faculty member killed himself over the weekend, prompting more discussion of why so many have taken their own lives.
La Salle University has suspended Jack Rappaport, a statistics professor at its business school, amid an investigation of allegations that he hired strippers to perform lap dances during an extra credit seminar he held on "the application of Platonic and Hegelian ethics to business," The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Students paid $150 to attend the seminar, and the university is refunding the money. Rappaport could not be reached for comment. The incident was first reported by Philadelphia City Paper, which quoted students as saying that three dancers, wearing bikinis and high heels, performed lap dances on Rappaport and on some students. Two students who spoke anonymously to the Inquirer, however, said that while scantily clad dancers attended the class, they did not perform lap dances.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights refused on Friday to reconsider suspending its investigation into discrimination against women in university admissions, voting 4-3 against putting a motion on the agenda that would have reopened the inquiry. The commission voted by the same margin last month to suspend the study, which had subpoenaed data from 19 colleges within a 100-mile radius of Washington, D.C. The goal was to discover whether colleges relaxed standards for men, but not women, in order to achieve gender balance. Commissioners supporting the inquiry argued that a significant amount of data had already been collected and that abandoning the study would be a waste of resources. Its opponents, who last week argued against continuing with incomplete data, said that nothing had changed their minds.
A survey of students at eight colleges and universities in North Carolina found that 17.4 percent are current users of hookahs, water pipes that have grown in popularity in recent years. Researchers at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center who conducted the study say that students seem unaware of health risks associated with the practice.
Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff recently gave a jailhouse interview to The Financial Times in which he said that one of his activities behind bars may soon be advising business schools. The article says: "Several business schools have approached him, he adds, and asked him to work on ethics courses. He likes that idea; Harvard and Northwestern are in his sights." The feelings may not be mutual. A spokeswoman for Northwestern's business school said that the institution is not engaged in any discussions with Madoff. (UPDATE: A spokesman for Harvard's business school said Monday morning that there was "no truth" to the idea that it was having any talks with Madoff.)
Leading Australian universities are creating new positions to recruit and retain indigenous students, The New York Times reported. Indigenous people make up 2.4 percent of the population but 1.25 percent of students entering universities, according to a recent study by the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Melbourne.
Conrad Volz, director of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Healthy Environments and Communities, is leaving his position, saying that the university wants him to focus on teaching and research, and not to be an advocate in environmental debates, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. (He has been a critic of Marcellus shale drilling, and has drawn fire from its supporters.) University officials did not respond to a request for comment.