Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, September 17, 2012 - 3:00am

WitsOn (for Women in Technology Sharing Online) will start October 1 as a six-week effort to encourage female undergraduates pursing science and technology degrees. The program will match students who sign up with a mentor for six weeks of online discussions, with the aim of encouraging these students to then find in-person mentors. The program is organized by Harvey Mudd College and Piazza (a social learning platform). While a number of colleges and universities have signed on as institutional participants (meaning they will publicize the effort) students at any college can join.

 

Monday, September 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Three campuses -- the University of Texas at Austin, North Dakota State University and Hiram College -- received bomb threats Friday that were taken seriously enough to lead to mass evacuations, the Associated Press reported. But in all three cases, the threats appeared to be false and students and employees were permitted to return to the campuses.

 

Monday, September 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Cornell University announced Friday that it is severing business ties with Adidas, finding that the company does not live up to what the university considers minimal acceptable standards for treating its workers. Cornell's statement specifically referenced the company's failure to pay severance to workers at a factory that was closed in Indonesia in 2010. If Adidas should change its policies, Cornell would welcome the chance to resume work with the company. Adidas officials did not respond to a request for comment. Cornell's royalties from the company have been modest in recent years, $1,000 to $2,000, according to a spokesman.

 

 

Monday, September 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Close to 1,000 people held a rally at Pennsylvania State University Saturday to call on the institution's Board of Trustees to resign, The Centre Daily Times reported. Attendees were angry that the board fired Joe Paterno as head football coach last year and subsequently largely accepted the analysis of an investigation into the Jerry Sandusky scandal that, among other things, was critical of Paterno (who died before the inquiry concluded). Franco Harris, a college and professional football star (who played at Penn State under Paterno), referred to the night the board fired the coach this way: "It only took one night, just one night for the BOT to lay a path of destruction never before seen on any college campus."

Monday, September 17, 2012 - 3:00am

The National Labor Relations Board, in a 2-to-1 vote, on Friday ordered the counting of ballots in a vote by adjuncts at Duquesne University on whether to unionize. The ballots have been impounded, uncounted, pending consideration of the board of an appeal by Duquesne, which argued that its adjuncts should not be permitted to unionize because the institution is Roman Catholic and a union might infringe on the institution's religious freedom. But the board order said that it made sense to count the ballots because, if the union bid is defeated, there would be no reason to consider the appeal. The decision said that Duquesne's appeal could proceed should the votes favor a union. The effort to unionize was organized with United Steelworkers.

Monday, September 17, 2012 - 3:00am

The board of Brown University's Athletic Hall of Fame has decided not to remove Joe Paterno, the late football coach at Pennsylvania State University, from his place of honor. "Paterno, a member of the Class of 1950 (A.B., English, magna cum laude), was inducted into the Hall of Fame on May 18, 1978. His election to the Hall of Fame recognized Paterno’s outstanding career as a player at Brown, quarterbacking the celebrated varsity football team of 1949, and his contributions to college sports," said a statement from the board. "In choosing not to remove Paterno from the list of Brown’s Hall of Fame athletes, the Board of Directors did not intend to diminish the tragic events that occurred at Penn State toward the end of Coach Paterno’s career. It sought, rather, to acknowledge the recognition of the achievements for which it elected Paterno to the Hall of Fame nearly 35 years ago."

 

Friday, September 14, 2012 - 3:00am

Today Inside Higher Ed introduces a new feature: a monthly contest in which we ask readers to suggest a caption for our higher ed-themed cartoons, drawn by Matthew Henry Hall. The first cartoon is here, as are the rules. We encourage your participation -- there are opportunities not just to propose pithy and clever captions yourself, but to endorse (and eventually vote on) those you like. And the contest winner will receive a signed version of the cartoon and a $100 gift certificate to Amazon.

We welcome your participation -- click here to have at it.

Friday, September 14, 2012 - 3:00am

As participation in higher education worldwide rises and geographic barriers and boundaries fall, collaboration on some postsecondary issues has increased. But most countries and regions still operate independently on many fronts, both purposefully (because countries want to go their own way) and less so, because of inadequate communication and cooperation. That fragmentation can be particularly vexing in areas such as quality assurance, and it is a major reason for a new endeavor announced Thursday by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Through the new CHEA International Quality Group, the council -- which represents American colleges and universities that are accredited by agencies that it recognizes -- aims to bring together colleges, accreditors, quality assurance agencies and associations from around the world to work together on dealing with quality-related issues in higher education. CHEA itself has been active in international matters, setting aside part of its annual meeting for an international forum and working with entities such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and UNESCO on issues such as diploma mills.

But Judith S. Eaton, CHEA's president, said council officials believed that the "growth in worldwide activity of our institutions, through study abroad and branch campuses, and the expanding international activity of U.S. accreditors" -- as well as the explosion of issues such as cross-border education, for-profit higher education, and massive open online courses -- made this a logical time to expand its involvement. The council does not plan either to accredit institutions or to recognize international quality assurance agencies as it does U.S. accreditors.

"We're trying to create a forum in which we and our partners around the world can work together on quality assurance issues," she said. The new entity, which will be part of CHEA, plans to convene discussions, conduct research, share news and best practices, and provide consulting services on quality assurance issues.

Friday, September 14, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Larisa DeSantis of Vanderbilt University explains the evolutionary strategy that allowed mammals to survive multiple shifts in the Earth’s climate. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, September 14, 2012 - 3:00am

Pepperdine University has denied the request of a student for academic credit for an internship with the Marijuana Policy Project, which encourages states to liberalize medical marijuana laws and to decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot. The project issued a press release criticizing the decision and saying that it was inconsistent with Pepperdine's Christian values. "Many prominent religious leaders and organizations support marijuana policy reform, along the spectrum of medical marijuana, decriminalization, and taxation and regulation. Seemingly, the Christian message is, or should be, one of mercy, humanity, and stopping the nation’s failed war on marijuana users," said the statement. A spokesman for Pepperdine said that the student was free on her own time to work with the group, but that the university reviews requests for academic credit to be awarded for internships. In this case, he said, officials "determined that the mission of Pepperdine didn't align well enough with the organization she applied to for the internship."

 

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