Academic institutions produced more startup companies as they commercialized their researchers' work in 2010 than they did in 2009, although some other forms of licensing activity decreased slightly, according to the preliminary results of an annual survey of the Association of University Technology Managers. The number of new U.S. patent applications filed by the institutions in the AUTM survey soared to 12,281 in in 2010, from 8,364 in 2009; the number of patents issued also rose, and licensed technologies and inventions at the surveyed institutions produced 651 startup companies in 2010, up from 596 in 2009. But the number of commercial products created stayed flat (657 vs. 658 in 2009) and the number of licenses executed dipped.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The American Association of University Professors has written to the University of Virginia to urge it to more forcefully resist requests for certain e-mail and other records from professors involved in the study of climate change, and from other scientists. While the university has resisted some requests, its recent agreement to one such inquiry has the AAUP concerned that professors' privacy and right to engage in controversial research is being damaged. A university spokeswoman said that the institution would respond to the AAUP, but has not done so yet.
Eight Native American students on Thursday sued the University of North Dakota and state officials over a new state law requiring the institution to maintain its "Fighting Sioux" name for athletic teams, The Bismarck Tribune reported. The university defended the name -- opposed by many Native Americans and the National Collegiate Athletic Association -- for years, but was on the verge of ending the name's use when legislators intervened. The lawsuit charges that the state is violating the students' rights by interfering in a decision that should not be made by political leaders. Further, the suit charges that the use of the name is harmful to Native American students.
Cooking is the leading cause of university housing fires, accounting for 88 percent of them, according to an analysis released Thursday by the U.S. Fire Administration. An average of 3,800 university housing fires occur each year, causing 25 injuries and $9 million in damage on average annually.
The Christian Legal Society has settled a lawsuit against the University of Montana's law school over the latter's refusal to recognize the former as an official student organization. Under the settlement, the law school agreed not to consider factors such as the relative popularity of student organizations in deciding whether they can be recognized. The society had argued that this practice would amount to illegal viewpoint discrimination. But the society agreed not to sue the university should it be denied recognition over law school rules requiring student organizations to be open to all students. The Christian group maintains that it meets this requirement because its activities are open, but the law school in the past has disagreed because the society requires members and leaders to share its beliefs.
Ohio higher education officials on Wednesday released details of a plan to turn public universities into "charter universities," in which they could give up some state funds in return for more freedom from regulations, The Dayton Daily News reported. The first part of the plan would let all 14 state universities meet internal auditors in private. Further, Bowling Green State, Kent State, Miami, Ohio and Ohio State Universities would be freed of enrollment caps. Universities could then trade more freedom for less money. So some institutions could opt to get less money and be allowed to self-insure for workers' compensation coverage, and to set tuition by academic program. Faculty groups in Ohio have been viewing with skepticism the push away from a traditional state higher education system.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded a $600,000 grant to Indiana University and the University of Michigan to develop an infrastructure for facilitating research involving the digitized works held in the HathiTrust Digital Library, according to an Indiana press release. The goal will be to develop reliable ways for scholars to analyze huge swaths of text in the HathiTrust's holdings using computer algorithms. Google has already opened up its own vault of digitized works to computational analysis by scholars, even coining the term "culturenomics" to describe research that applies quantitative analysis to digitized literature. The HathiTrust, a consortium of more than 50 universities, does not have as many works in its digital vault as Google Books, but has taken steps to emulate that project in hope of building a more academe-oriented alternative.
Hundreds of Chicago State University students received state financial aid even though they lacked the grades needed to remain enrolled, The Chicago Tribune reported. The Tribune reported last month about Chicago State failing to enforce its rules about suspending those who fail to meet minimal grade requirements, but the information about state financial aid emerged Wednesday at a state hearing.