Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Heidi Newberg discusses how much we have learned about galaxies in the last century, and the mysteries still awaiting discovery. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Castleton State College said Tuesday that it had replaced its head football coach after an investigation into charges that he broke National Collegiate Athletic Association rules by helping a player get $22,000 in student loans. The Vermont public college said that the coach, Rich Alercio, had been accused by the NCAA of arranging for a part-time employee of the college to co-sign or endorse three loans for an unidentified player, which would violate the association's rules against improper benefits for athletes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

The relative roles of and relationships between research universities and state college systems are in the state policy spotlight as governors trot out their 2012 budgets. On Tuesday, as expected, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin called for splitting off the flagship University of Wisconsin at Madison from the statewide public college system. Walker said giving Madison "public authority" status -- which he said could also soon be granted to the university's other major research campus, in Milwaukee -- was necessary to give Madison "the tools it needs to remain a world leader in research and instruction -- while continuing to be a driver of economic development for our state." Walker said he was "open to working with lawmakers from both political parties on expanding this concept to the other campuses throughout the University of Wisconsin system," many of whose leaders have opposed the prospect of separating the system's most visible and prestigious campuses from the rest.

Also Tuesday, legislators in Connecticut challenged a proposal by that state's governor, Dannel P. Malloy, that would create a statewide system, but leave the flagship University of Connecticut on its own, The Connecticut Mirror reported. "I feel the UConn system needs to be in the same umbrella," the newspaper quoted State Representative Toni E. Walker as saying. "I want to see another model, and that model includes the University of Connecticut.... If we're going to do this let's not isolate the other universities." Connecticut's commissioner of higher education, Michael Meotti, said at the legislative hearing that treating the institutions differently made sense, given their different student bodies and missions. "That sets them worlds apart. If you put them together then you run too great a risk that one institution's issues will dominate over another."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

An archaeology professor at Loyola University Chicago was sentenced by a federal judge to one year of probation Tuesday after admitting that he stole artifacts from an excavated site in New Mexico, The Chicago Tribune reported. The professor, Daniel Amick, pledged to return the artifacts. Amick and Loyola declined comment. Amick's lawyer said that he took the items for research purposes and would have been eligible for a research permit to work on the site, but had not obtained one.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

The London School of Economics and Political Science is facing increased criticism over its ties to Mu’ammer Gaddafi, whose son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi earned a Ph.D. at the university and made large donations to it. Times Higher Education reported that students have expressed outrage that these donations led to agreements by the London School of Economics to operate programs in Libya -- since called off. Students took over a building to demand, among other things, that some of the Gaddafi money be used for scholarships. A statement from the university says that it “shares the students’ revulsion at the recent violence and gross violations of human rights in Libya, and much regrets the association of the school’s name with Saif Gaddafi and the actions of the Libyan regime."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

President Obama on Tuesday named the 10 winners of the National Humanities Medal for 2010. They are:

  • Daniel Aaron, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of English and American Literature Emeritus at Harvard University.
  • Bernard Bailyn, Adams University Professor at Harvard University.
  • Jacques Barzun, former dean and provost at Columbia University.
  • Wendell E. Berry, the poet and novelist.
  • Roberto González Echevarría, Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literatures at Yale University.
  • Stanley N. Katz, director of the Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies.
  • Joyce Carol Oates, the author.
  • Arnold Rampersad, biographer and professor and former associate dean at Stanford University.
  • Philip Roth, the novelist.
  • Gordon S. Wood, the Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of the District of Columbia is facing questions about first class air travel by its president, Allen Sessoms, following the release of records on the travel to a Fox 5 reporter. One of the trips (this one business class) was to Egypt, and UDC would provide only limited and redacted records about what he did there, spending a few hours a day visiting a sister university and spending other time on tourist activities and shopping. On the same trip, he stopped in Britain on the way back (spending $1,000 there,) but the university said it had no documentation for why he was there. Sessoms declined to comment.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Japan has been shocked by an Internet cheating scandal on an entrance exam to Kyoto University, one of the country's most prestigious institutions. The New York Times reported that questions from the exam (and replies) were posted on a popular website while the exam was taking place.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

A week after the chancellor of the University System of Ohio resigned to allow the state's new Republican governor to appoint his own higher ed leader, Governor John Kasich announced the appointment of a former attorney general to the job. James Petro, who served as state auditor and attorney general in Republican administrations in Ohio and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006, will replace Eric D. Fingerhut, who was the first chancellor of the statewide system established under Kasich's predecessor, former Governor Ted Strickland. Some state policy experts and Ohio college leaders have expressed concern that the system's governance structure -- in which the chancellor is selected by the governor and closely aligned with him (or her) -- would make Ohio public higher education too susceptible to political turnover and turbulence, and perhaps threaten the new system. When he ran for governor in 2005, Petro reportedly proposed creating two higher education boards, one for four-year and one for two-year colleges. But he told local reporters Monday that he supported the new structure.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

The push by Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin to end collective bargaining rights for public higher education has led one union to push for a quick contract. The adjunct union at Madison Area Technical College has been in a dispute with the institution over assigning courses -- a system that the adjuncts say favors full-time faculty members at their expense. The adjuncts are now offering to drop the issue (including a lawsuit over it) in return for quick ratification of a contract on which other issues have already been resolved, The Wisconsin State Journal reported.

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