Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, October 1, 2012 - 3:00am

A report Friday from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy explores changes in the payments colleges, universities and other tax-exempt institutions make to municipalities in lieu of taxes, finding that they are concentrated in the Northeast and focus primarily on higher education institutions, which account for two-thirds of all payments in lieu of taxes. In recent years, as municipalities have struggled with revenue constraints, they have turned to asking local higher education institutions to contribute to the municipal budgets, a request that has sometimes led to confrontations between city leaders and higher education institutions, particularly in Pittsburgh and Providence.

Notable among the report's findings is that the majority of all money given to municipalities through PILOT agreements comes from just 10 institutions, eight of which are universities or academic medical centers: kevin -- ok to add this, since technically mass general and b&w aren't universities? dl Harvard University, Yale University, Stanford University, Brown University, Boston University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Princeton University. The list suggests that municipalities target wealthy institutions, rather than those that are the biggest municipal burden or own the most land.

Monday, October 1, 2012 - 4:29am

The announcement last month by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology that it was making an indefinite loan of 24 artifacts from ancient Troy to Turkey is one of the Turkish victories in the country's controversial campaign to recover antiquities, The New York Times reported. In the deal with Penn, Turkey promised future loans and collaboration on other projects. Many museums in the United States and Europe have faced demands in recent years that they return art taken from Greece, Turkey and other nations under questionable circumstances in eras before current ethical standards for excavations were in place. The Times article noted, however, that some museum directors question Turkey's approach to the issue, Critics have charged that Turkish museums have art taken from lands ruled in the Ottoman period that are now independent nations. "The Turks are engaging in polemics and nasty politics," said Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. "They should be careful about making moral claims when their museums are full of looted treasures."


Monday, October 1, 2012 - 3:00am

Eugene Genovese -- a historian revered for his studies of American slavery and activist known for his political evolution -- died last week. An obituary prepared by his family, as well, as some of the commentary on his death, can be found here. His many books, the best known of which is Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made, are considered to have redefined understanding of master-slave relations. His long teaching career included positions at Rutgers University, the University of Rochester and Emory University. At a Vietnam War teach-in at Rutgers, Genovese set off a huge political uproar when he said he would not mind a Viet Cong victory. Early in his career, he was a Marxist and was known as the first such thinker to become president of the Organization of American Historians, a position to which he was elected in 1978. But over time Genovese -- as well as his late wife Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, also a historian and women's studies scholar and co-author of some of his work -- migrated politically and became associated with conservative thinking, becoming heroes to some who once criticized them (and criticized by some who once were fans).

His obituary in The New York Times may be found here. Thoughts on his passing also have appeared in Dissent and Reason.

Monday, October 1, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Vernon Scarborough of the University of Cincinnati explores the complex infrastructure that supplied the largest Mayan city with water. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Monday, October 1, 2012 - 3:00am

An article in The Irish Times explores the reasons why experts periodically propose (as happened last week in a government-requested report) that Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin be merged, and why just about everyone associated with the two institutions hates the idea. The idea of a merger is that a combined institution would be stronger (especially in international rankings). Historically, religion and class might have divided the two institutions, since Trinity was founded for the Protestant elite under English royal rule, UCD was founded by Roman Catholics to serve those excluded from Trinity. Today such ethnic divides are less evident, although the universities prefer to be rivals who sometimes cooperate than to shed their institutional identities, the article said.


Monday, October 1, 2012 - 3:00am

Governor Jerry Brown has signed into California law a measure that will require universities that receive more than $10 million in media revenue related to athletics to cover insurance deductibles and pay health care premiums for low-income athletics, and to give academic scholarships to students who lose their athletic scholarships after becoming injured while playing their sport, the Associated Press reported. The legislation also requires universities to pay future medical costs for on-the-field injuries. The four universities covered by the law are Stanford University, and the Universities of California at Berkeley, California at Los Angeles and Southern California. San Diego State University may eventually cross the $10 million threshold and become covered as well. Stanford objected to the bill, saying that it was unfair to only impose the requirements on some colleges and universities.


Monday, October 1, 2012 - 3:00am

James Holmes, who is charged in the Colorado movie theater killings, threatened a psychiatrist he was seeing at the University of Colorado at Denver, according to court documents released Friday, The Denver Post reported. Holmes, who left a graduate program at the university, was reported by the psychiatrist as a danger and she ended the professional relationship with Holmes, the documents indicate. The documents do not indicate -- as many have reported -- that the university banned Holmes from campus.

Monday, October 1, 2012 - 4:23am

The University of Mississippi has held a series of events in recent weeks to mark the 50th anniversary of its desegregation. But as The New York Times noted, some have questioned whether the emphasis is on the wrong time period. Much discussion has noted the progress of the last 50 years to the point where the president of the student body is a black woman. But Charles W. Eagles, a history professor and the author of The Price of Defiance: James Meredith and the Integration of Ole Miss, has prompted campus discussion with a talk in which he said that the university was celebrating its progress and not talking about the realities that came before integration. "The doors were open for 50 years yes, but they’d been closed for a century,” he said. “We don’t want to talk about that do we?"

Monday, October 1, 2012 - 4:25am

Southern Methodist University -- facing criticism over its handling of sexual assault reports -- has announced a new task force to study the issue, The Dallas Morning News reported. In the last month, two SMU students have been arrested on sexual assault charges. In one of the cases, the district attorney's office was not informed of the allegations until eight months after they had been made. In that case, a campus disciplinary body found the accused guilty of misconduct over an allegation that he raped another student. An appeals panel overturned that ruling and it was only then that information was sent to the district attorney, who convened a grand jury, which indicted the accused. "We want to make sure victims get their day in court. And eight months is too long. Eight months is way too long," said a spokeswoman for the district attorney.


Monday, October 1, 2012 - 3:00am

Kaplan's higher education division announced Friday that it will close nine campuses, The Washington Post (which owns Kaplan) reported. The company did not say why the campuses were being closed, but did recently disclose that an accreditor had recently warned that three campuses might lose recognition. Students currently enrolled in the campuses being closed will be permitted to finish their courses, but new students will not be enrolled.



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