Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 26, 2012

A Texas jury last week ordered H. Scott Norville, the head of Texas Tech University's civil and environmental engineering department, to pay $590,000 for defaming and physically assaulting a former faculty member, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported. Norville declined to comment on the finding. R. Scott Phelan, the former faculty member, had received positive reviews from the department and had been winning outside grants. But he charged that he was denied tenure in retaliation for reporting to the university that he believed Norville was using university time and equipment for a consulting business -- charges Norville disputed.


November 26, 2012

Football coaches' salaries continue to increase, even as raises for most of those who work in higher education remain modest, according to a new analysis from USA Today. The average salary for head coaches at major college football programs is $1.64 million, up nearly 12 percent in a year. Further, the newspaper found this shift: while six years ago, 42 coaches earned at least $1 million, this year 42 coaches earned at least $2 million.


November 26, 2012

Each day, the College Board offers an online "Official SAT Question of the Day" to help students prepare. The question also indicates what percentage of those who tried it answered correctly. The question for Friday shows an unusually low correct answer rate (28 percent). But that may not reflect a weakness in mathematics education. Until some time over the weekend, the College Board's website was telling people who answered correctly that they were wrong, and those who selected one of the incorrect answers that they were correct.

The question: If 24/15 = 4/n, what is the value of 4n

A. 6

B. 10

C. 12

D. 30

E. 60

Michael Paul Goldenberg wrote at the website of Rational Mathematics Education that he answered B (the correct answer) and was told by the website that the correct answer was A. He also noted that the explanation for the incorrect answer (A) actually pointed to B being the real answer.

Michael Pearson, executive director of the Mathematical Association of America, said that the explanations were correct from the start (even when the answer was incorrect), so that "it's clear that someone simply set the wrong answer among the multiple-choice selections."

In an e-mail Sunday, a College Board spokeswoman confirmed that the error was in programming the answer key, and said that "we have resolved the issue and apologize for any confusion this may have caused."



November 21, 2012

Edward Liebow will be the next executive director of the American Anthropological Association. Since 1986, he has worked at the Battelle Memorial Institute, the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization. He also has been a board member of the anthropology association.


November 21, 2012

The Tufts University Board of Trustees has unanimously voted to rescind the honorary degree awarded to Lance Armstrong at commencement in 2006. "While continuing to respect the significant work of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the board concluded that, in the wake of the recent report of the United States Anti-Doping Agency and its acceptance by the International Cycling Union, Mr. Armstrong's actions as an athlete are inconsistent with the values of Tufts University," said a university spokeswoman.


November 21, 2012

Columbia, Cornell and Yale Universities have announced an expansion of a program to teach less commonly taught languages at the three institutions. The universities are using live videoconferencing with small classes (limited to 12 each) out of the belief that these class sizes are best suited to language instruction. The program started with Romanian, elementary Dutch and elementary Nahuatl, the Aztec language, and has since expanded to other languages. A new grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will allow for further expansion. This fall, the universities added courses in Bengali, Indonesian, Modern Greek, Tamil, Yoruba and Zulu. And in the fall of 2013, they plan to add courses in Khmer, Sinhala, Polish and Vietnamese.

November 21, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Daniel Lidar of the University of Southern California explains why diamonds may be the key to quantum computing. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


November 21, 2012

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the American Association of University Professors on Tuesday released a joint statement affirming the importance of academic freedom in higher education, and the role of accrediting in assuring that academic freedom exists and is nurtured. The statement, an advisory to accreditors and others, urges the review of accreditation standards to be sure the role of academic freedom receives appropriate attention. A statement from Judith Eaton, president of CHEA, said that the new document "is a response to concerns that academic freedom is increasingly challenged in today’s environment and that accreditation can play an even more helpful role in meeting this challenge."

November 21, 2012

An animal rights activist, Camille Marino, has pleaded guilty to trespass and unlawful posting of a message with aggravating circumstances, The Detroit Free Press reported. Marino was arrested in May when she chained herself to the doors of the library at Wayne State University. She had been posting messages online in which she said that a Wayne State researcher who works with animals -- whom she named, listing his home and office addresses and phone numbers -- should be tortured. She also sent e-mail to the researcher saying, "I hope you die a slow painful death comparable to those you forced your victims to endure. Please don't interpret this as a threat. It's merely my most fond wishes for you." After a court ordered her not to post the researcher's address again, she did so almost immediately, authorities said.


November 20, 2012

Pitzer College, known for environmental studies, and Robert Redford, the actor known for environmental activism, have teamed up to create a conservancy at the college that will promote study of and conservation of the environment in Southern California, The Los Angeles Times reported. The program will be housed on an old infirmary on 12 acres of land next to the college's campus. The land is a rare coastal sage scrub ecosystem, and students will work on preserving it as part of the program.


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