Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Linn State Technical College, in Missouri, is subjecting all students to drug testing, an apparent first for a public college, the Associated Press reported. Linn State officials said that their numerous programs involving heavy and sometimes dangerous equipment -- aircraft maintenance, heavy engine repair and nuclear technology, for example -- necessitate the drug testing. But officials acknowledged that students in general education programs will also now be tested. Civil liberties groups are predicting a legal challenge. "I've never heard of any other adult public educational institution that presumes to drug-test all of its students," said Dan Viets of the Missouri Civil Liberties Association. "They're trying to break some new ground here. I don't think the courts will uphold it."

Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor, and Rick Perry, the current governor of Texas, clashed on science issues in Wednesday night's debate of the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. Huntsman, while declining to name Perry as a candidate who is anti-science, said: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science." But Perry, the current front-runner, repeated his view that there is no consensus on climate change and invoked economic needs and a hero of science to make his point. "The science is -- is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans' economy at -- at -- at jeopardy based on scientific theory that's not settled yet, to me, is just -- is nonsense. I mean, it -- I mean -- and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell." A transcript of the debate may be found here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Faculty members at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus went on strike Wednesday morning, arguing the administration’s new contract offer is unreasonable.

Around noon Wednesday, about 150 faculty members picketed the entrance to the 11,200-student university. The faculty union president Edward Donahue said union members voted overwhelmingly to go on strike after administrators refused to budge on salary levels.

As it stands, the university is asking for a faculty salary freeze for the first year and a combination of lump sum and incremental wage increases over the next four years of the five-year contract, said university spokesman Brian Harmon. Administrators ventured into classrooms Wednesday, explaining the situation to students and leading classes when possible, he said.

Ralph Engelman, a union spokesman, said the problem is with the lack of increases to the base salary levels in the first three years. Lump sum payments during those first three years will not be sufficient, he said. Donahue, who is also a chemistry professor at the university, said the faculty agreed to the one-year salary freeze and to increased costs for the faculty healthcare plan. “We’re only looking for a fair settlement that works out for everybody,” Donahue said. “We’re not asking for the moon.”

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 3:00am

BPP University College, Britain's only for-profit, degree-awarding institution, will have a price advantage over nonprofit competitors. Times Higher Education reported that BPP will charge £5,000 (about $8,000) a year for tuition, compared to the £9,000 (about $14,300) rates being set by most other universities, which are losing much of their government support. The British shifts in higher education policy also allow students to borrow up to £6,000 to attend for-profit institutions, so BPP students will have access to loans that are large enough to cover tuition.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Villanova University recently started a new branding campaign -- Go NOVA. But a few materials were quickly reworked after some faculty members spotted an unfortunate appearance in the online versions of some images. The original version of this page featured the "Go NOVA" letters in blue on a white background. Inside the blue O was an image of several white spires of a church on campus, with some windows in the spires. To some professors, the image looked like members of the Ku Klux Klan. The image was prepared for a print publication (and Villanova officials said that the Klan image didn't occur to anyone who saw the print version). The image has since been removed from the online materials.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Carnegie Mellon University is today announcing a pledge by William S. Dietrich II, a trustee, of a $265 million gift, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Dietrich, who is also on the board of the University of Pittsburgh, is also expected to make a very large gift to that institution. At Carnegie Mellon, the funds -- equal to about a fourth of the university's endowment -- will be used for global initiatives and for programs linking study of the arts and technology.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Craig Rustici of Hofstra University examines the myth of Pope Joan and explains how efforts to suppress the legend may have solidified Joan's status. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 3:00am

The average medical student spends just five hours in medical school focused on health-care needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals, according to a new Stanford University study that will be published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study is based on a survey of medical school deans. It found that about a third of medical schools devote no time to the issue. However, in what the researchers considered a positive sign, almost all medical students these days are taught, when taking sexual histories of patients, to ask whether they "have sex with men, women or both."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 3:00am

A state auditor has found that Northwest Missouri State University has violated state law by extending some contracts for food services, facilities management and other functions without competitive bids, in exchange for gifts for stadium renovations, The Kansas City Star reported. University officials said that they were trying to move forward to correct any problems.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 3:00am

The board of Southern University on Tuesday deadlocked and failed to adopt a resolution allowing the Baton Rouge campus to declare financial exigency, the Associated Press reported. Some university leaders have said that such a declaration is needed to impose cuts, but faculty leaders have argued that sufficient spending shifts could be made without declaring exigency. A declaration of exigency could lead to cuts of tenured faculty positions.

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