Twenty-eight universities are today launching a new high-speed computer network that will be available to everyone in their surrounding communities, The New York Times reported. The effort is designed to encourage economic growth in those areas. The project, known as GigU, includes Arizona State, Case Western Reserve, Duke and Howard Universities and the Universities of Chicago, Michigan and Washington.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Florida Governor Rick Scott has started talking to appointees to college and university boards about embracing the controversial ideas being pushed in Texas to reform higher education, WCTV News reported. Governor Scott is a fan of Texas Governor Rick Perry, a fellow Republican whose allies are behind many of the reforms. Many of the Texas changes focus on measuring faculty work, and Governor Scott said that was a priority. "One of the things I really like about what he has in there is the fact that we should be measuring our professors," Scott told the News Service of Florida on Tuesday. "I believe students ought to be measuring the effectiveness of our professors because ultimately, it is the families' money paying for this. We really ought to have a measurement system [that is] student-centered."
Washburn University has agreed to pay $210,000 to settle a lawsuit filed last year by two former senior administrators, who charged that the institution's president had fired them because they had cooperated with a review of his performance by board members. Wanda Hill and Robin Bowen, formerly vice presidents for administration and for academic affairs, respectively, at Washburn, sued the Kansas public institution a few months after they were fired last spring. They alleged that President Jerry B. Farley had dismissed them because he considered them disloyal for having shared information with board members about issues related to controversial spending and other topics. Farley declined to discuss the situation with Inside Higher Ed at the time, but told The Topeka Capital-Journal that he disputed the allegations. In a settlement agreement, published by the local newspaper on Monday, Washburn will pay $130,000 to Bowen and $82,500 to Hill (and to their lawyers), and Farley will write a general letter of recommendation for both women. Washburn admits no wrongdoing in the agreement. Hill is now vice president for finance and CFO at Sierra Nevada College; Bowen is vice president for academic affairs at Fitchburg State University.
An article in The Boston Globe explores how a scholarly idea can take off -- and then come under sustained scrutiny. The idea is that certain traits such as smoking, obesity and loneliness are contagious and spread through social networks. It was promoted in 2007 articles by Nicholas Christakis of Harvard University's medical school and James Fowler, a political scientist at the University of California at San Diego. But while the article captured considerable attention beyond academe at the time, it has come under much questioning of late in a series of scholarly papers. Among the criticisms: that the original work didn't adequately rule out explanations beyond social networks for the spread of these traits.
Four universities in Pennsylvania are among the 10 postsecondary institutions in the United States that bought the most "green power," according to a list published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The University of Pennsylvania topped the list, purchasing about 200 million kilowatt hours -- nearly half of its total electricity -- in the form of solar and wind power. Penn's Philadelphia neighbor, Drexel University, appears fifth on the list, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh is listed third, and Pennsylvania State University is sixth.
The Textile Museum, a free-standing Washington institution, is affiliating with George Washington University and will relocate to the campus, as part of a new museum facility, the institutions announced Tuesday. The Textile Museum was founded in 1925 with a collection of 275 rugs and has grown since into a noted collection, with research and education programs and exhibits.
Students might still prefer their textbooks in print, but that has not stopped the online bookstore operator Akademos, Inc., from building its very own e-reader with an academic audience in mind. The Akademos e-reader, which the company announced on Tuesday, "allows students to create notes, highlight, annotate, and collaborate with fellow students," according to a press release. Additionally, it has struck a partnership with Flat World Knowledge, a textbook publisher that straddles the print-digital divide by offering customers the option of buying its textbooks in print or downloading the PDF versions for free. Through the partnership the free electronic versions of the Flat World titles would be available on the Akademos e-reader. But like Flat World, Akademos is hedging against the stalled uptake of e-books on college campuses: "Students who would also like a print copy of the text," the company wrote in its release, "can easily order one directly through the eReader itself."
California's governor signed legislation on Monday that will let immigrants without legal documentation receive privately funded scholarships to enroll in the state's public colleges, the Los Angeles Times reported. But in discussing the measure, Gov. Jerry Brown declined to commit to signing companion legislation that would let undocumented students get state-financed student aid, saying he viewed it "favorably" but did not want to get out ahead of events, since the bill has not yet reached his desk.