Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, has started a review of the funding that Syrian authorities provided for a Syrian studies center at the university, The Guardian reported. The ties have attracted attention amid the crackdown by Syria's government on pro-democracy protests in the country. The Guardian noted that the advisory board for the St. Andrews center includes people associated with Syria's government.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Southern California is today announcing a $110 million donation that will be used to provide scholarships to encourage top students to enroll there, the Los Angeles Times reported. Each scholarship will be worth around $47,000, and some will be set aside for graduates of high schools near the university's campus.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of British Columbia announced Tuesday that it will not join the National Collegiate Athletic Association but instead will maintain its membership with Canadian Interuniversity Sport. The university considered moving to the NCAA’s Division II -- which opened up membership to Canadian institutions in 2008 as part of larger efforts to differentiate itself from Divisions I and III -- partially “because of concerns that the CIS was limiting the opportunities available to student athletes.” Though university officials say that “the CIS has not yet resolved these issues,” they say their institution is staying in the CIS to “drive change.” Stephen J. Toope, university president, said in a statement: “I believe that significant reforms within CIS, which must also include enhancing scholarship opportunities, will offer Canadian student athletes the kind of competitive opportunities they need and deserve. [The University of British Columbia’s] consultation process has contributed greatly to preparing the ground for the changes that are required for CIS to become the effective competitive arena that will offer student athletes here at [the University of British Columbia] and across Canada a better future.”

Simon Fraser University, a neighboring institution in British Columbia, announced in 2009 that it was making moves to become the first Canadian institution to join the NCAA, specifically Division II. Simon Fraser is currently in the process of being reviewed for accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and University because the NCAA is mandating that all Canadian institutions seeking membership be accredited in the United States.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - 3:00am

These days, when the Education Department and Census Bureau release various compilations of education statistics, data usually show the relative success of female vs. male students. On Tuesday, the Census Bureau provided the latest factoid in "Educational Attainment in the United States: 2010." Among the population of people aged 25 or older who are working, women are now more likely than men (37 percent vs. 35 percent) to have a bachelor's degree.

The report also contains numerous other figures on a range of issues. Summary data back the contention of many experts that educational attainment in the United States could grow significantly by helping people finish degree programs that they have started and abandoned. Consider the following results:

Educational Attainment of Adults 25 and Older, 2010

No high school diploma 15%
High school diploma 29%
Attended some college, but no degree 17%
Associate degree 9%
Bachelor's degree 15%
Some time in graduate school, but no advanced degree 4%
Advanced degree 11%
Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Pennsylvania has announced that it found no wrongdoing in the use by the fraternity Zeta Psi of a camel at one of its parties, NBC Philadelphia reported. Photographs of the camel, surrounded by women with drinks, led some to question whether the camel was mistreated. But the university found no abuse.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - 3:00am

Donald Trump, who is flirting with running for president, has expanded his demands for records about President Obama's past. Now he not only isn't satisfied with evidence of the president's Hawaii birth, but he wants school and college transcripts. Trump told the Associated Press that he didn't think Obama had the grades to earn admission to Columbia University or Harvard Law School. "I heard he was a terrible student, terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?" Trump said in an interview with the AP. "I'm thinking about it, I'm certainly looking into it. Let him show his records." Some pundits are accusing Trump of "playing the race card," by implying that Obama benefited from affirmative action to win admission. While Obama's college transcripts aren't public record, it is known that he graduated magna cum laude from law school -- and a spokeswoman for the law school confirmed that the honor is awarded strictly on the basis of top grades.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - 3:00am
  • Michael S. Billig, professor of anthropology at Franklin & Marshall College, in Pennsylvania, has been promoted to associate dean of the faculty there.
  • Lisa Brock, chair of the department of humanities, history and social sciences at Columbia College Chicago, has been named academic director of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College.
  • Jerry T. Haag, president of Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, has been chosen as vice president for university development at Baylor University, in Texas.
  • Donald Kaminski, human resource director at Chartiers Valley School District, in Pennsylvania, has been appointed as director of human resources at Wheeling Jesuit University, in West Virginia.
  • Harper Montgomery, professor at Rhode Island School of Design, has been named Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Professor in Latin American Art at the City University of New York's Hunter College.
  • James C. Peterson, R.A. Hope Professor of Theology and Ethics at McMaster University, in Ontario, has been selected as Charles and Helen Schumann Professor of Christian Ethics at Roanoke College, in Virginia.
  • Carrie Thompson, senior director for annual and special gifts at Lipscomb University, in Tennessee, has been promoted to assistant vice president for development and alumni relations there.
  • The appointments above are drawn from The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of upcoming events in higher education. To submit job changes or calendar items, please click here.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - 3:00am

    Portions of recorded class discussions in which two labor professors at the University of Missouri appear to advocate violence as a bargaining tactic have been drawing attention, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune. The edited snippets of class sessions held at the University of Missouri at Kansas City's Institute for Labor Studies appear to have been taken from a lecture capture system -- and have been amplified by several conservative websites.

    Judy Ancel, director of the institute, and Don Giljum, former business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 148, are seen discussing various tactics for organizing and effective bargaining. In the segments of the discussions, they and their students seem to be discussing the virtues of using violence, of hinting in the work place that laborers are planning to sabotage industrial equipment, and of deploying feral cats to short circuit a powerhouse in Peru, where workers were fighting for the right to strike.

    A source knowledgeable about the sessions said the videos were so heavily edited that they misrepresented what actually happened in class. The videos appeared on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government website. Breitbart is known for sharing footage that embarrasses figures who are anathema to some conservatives.

    Ancel has been an outspoken opponent of efforts to make Missouri a "right to work" state.

    The university system's public relations office repeated an earlier statement given to the Tribune that officials at the St. Louis and Kansas City campuses are looking into the situation. "Obviously, the comments on the video do not reflect the position of the University of Missouri," Jennifer Hollingshead, a system spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. The public relations staff did not respond to repeated requests from Inside Higher Ed for further comment, for copies of the full video, or for a description of the larger context in which the conversations took place.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - 3:00am

    Some college students who lack documentation to stay in the United States and who have been targets for deportation are winning reprieves following intervention from Democratic lawmakers, who are pushing for the suspension of deportations in such cases, The New York Times reported. Democratic lawmakers -- who were blocked by Republicans last year from enacting legislation that would have created a path to citizenship for such students -- are now urging the Obama administration to focus enforcement of immigration laws elsewhere, and not on college students. An Associated Press article examines the case of a community college student in Connecticut whose deportation to Mexico was halted.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - 3:00am

    In today’s Academic Minute, the University of West Georgia's Jeannette Diaz-Laplante examines efforts to include mental health care in the continuing recovery efforts in Haiti. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

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