Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 5, 2013

The Connecticut General Assembly has given final approval to a plan to two major spending initiatives for the University of Connecticut. One part would provide $1.5 billion for construction of facilities, including laboratories, equipment and housing. A second part would provide $137 million to hire additional faculty members so that enrollment can be increased in science and technology fields.

 

June 5, 2013

Queen's University in Canada is apologizing for having asked a student to remove his underwear art from an exhibit to be presented to donors, The Toronto Star reported. David Woodward, the student, was among those asked to participate, but organizers asked him to take down his art when they saw it. The work he was to have presented, "All I Am Is What I've Felt," consists of images and words written on white men's briefs. He said that he considers the work to be about gender, sexuality and intimacy. The underwear art (tame in comparison to student art that has caused controversy elsewhere) may be viewed here.

June 5, 2013

Coalitions of librarians and colleges and universities filed friend of the court briefs Tuesday supporting the HathiTrust in a lawsuit in which authors' groups charge that the digital repository is violating their copyright in making some of their works freely available. The briefs were filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which is considering an appeal of a federal judge's ruling last October that sided overwhelmingly with the trust and the universities (Michigan, California and Wisconsin, and Indiana) that created it. In their brief urging the Second Circuit to uphold the lower court, the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries argue that a ruling for the Authors' Guild and the others challenging the HathiTrust would "prevent libraries from performing some of their most basic functions, from film preservation to Internet access." And the brief filed by the American Council on Education, several other major groups of college presidents, and Educause vigorously defends the doctrine of "fair use" that they say the plaintiffs challenging HathiTrust would undermine.

The Authors Guild is scheduled to reply to these briefs within a month.

June 5, 2013

An explosion took place just before noon Tuesday at a building at Nyack College's Rockland County campus. College officials said that five employees and two students were in the building at the time. While there were injuries, there were no fatalities. Authorities are trying to determine the cause of the explosion.

June 4, 2013

Scholars and others are protesting a forthcoming journal, Porn Studies, from Routledge. "While we agree that pornography and porn culture demand and deserve more critical attention, as a group of academics, activists, anti-violence experts, health professionals, and educators, we are deeply concerned about the journal’s intention and focus and about its editorial board, which is uniformly pro-porn," says a petition signed by hundreds. "Routledge is in a position of authority, and framing the editorial 'experts' on porn as pro-porn under the auspices of neutrality (which is what the journal title does) further fosters the normalization of porn and misrepresents the academic, political and ideological debates about the issue."

Times Higher Education asked editors of the journal about their reaction to the criticism, and the editors responded that they had been "especially pleased to have so many messages from academics welcoming the journal" and "delighted that we have been able to include the foremost scholars in this area on our board, and we are continuing to invite others so that we have a really good spread of academics across disciplines."

June 4, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Dorothy Peteet of Columbia University reveals what the Hudson River has to say about the climate of the past. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

June 4, 2013

Gordon Gee, president of Ohio State University, who has been facing criticism over disparaging remarks he made about Roman Catholics and others, has withdrawn from a planned graduation speech at a Catholic high school, The Columbus Dispatch reported. A university spokeswoman said that “it's a very important, very seminal moment for the young people and so he really wanted to ensure that the appropriate focus was kept on the young people who are graduating and their families."

June 4, 2013

Robert Barchi, president of Rutgers University, is facing considerable criticism for appointing an athletics director who was accused, earlier in her career, of being verbally abusive to athletes she was coaching. Now, The New York Times reported that Barchi appointed a chief of staff this year -- in the midst of the university's athletic scandals -- who was sued by four long-time Rutgers employees for age discrimination. Barchi was aware of the lawsuit when he promoted the chief of staff, Gregory S. Jackson. Rutgers, which was also sued, and Jackson have denied the charges in the suit.

June 4, 2013

The State Board of Higher Education in North Dakota voted Monday to buy out the contract of Hamid Shirvani, the system chancellor, The Bismarck Tribune reported. Shirvani has faced a series of conflicts in the state in which various campus and political officials have questioned his managerial style. He has maintained that he was hired to push a reform agenda, knowing that some would disagree. He said that he respected the board's decision, and that he had asked board members to either issue a strong show of support or to “please just buy out my contract and thank you very much."

June 4, 2013

A pilot partnership between San Jose State University and Udacity, the Silicon Valley-based ed tech company, revealed some hidden costs of online education, The Oakland Tribune reports

"I get this call from San Jose State: 'Uh, we have a problem,'" recalled Mark Ryan, superintendent of a charter school in Oakland that was taking part in the project to offer for-credit online classes to students, including high school students. According to the newspaper, "It turned out some of the low-income teens didn't have computers and high-speed Internet connections at home that the online course required. Many needed personal attention to make it through. The final results aren't in yet, but the experiment exposed some challenges to the promise of a low-cost online education. And it showed there is still a divide between technology-driven educators and the low-income, first-generation college hopefuls they are trying to reach."

Udacity just signed a major deal with the Georgia Institute of Technology to offer a low-cost professional master's degree courses to 10,000 students at once.

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