Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of California Board of Regents this week will consider a proposal to fire a tenured professor, a rare event in the system, The Los Angeles Times reported. The university, citing privacy rules, says only that the faculty member is at the Riverside campus. But Sarkis Joseph Khoury, who teaches international finance, confirmed to the Times that he is the professor in question. He has clashed with the university over accusations that he received outside funds in inappropriate ways during sabbaticals. Khoury says that he is a victim of a witch hunt, and that the university is angry that he has defended himself in the sabbatical dispute. Further, he charges that he is being punished for a range of other issues, including Republican views, Lebanese heritage, and pushing for the hiring of more minority faculty members.
Scripps College named an art dealer, Frank Lloyd, as co-curator of an exhibit at the college's museum, despite art world ethics codes that generally bar art dealers from organizing exhibits at nonprofit museums, The Los Angeles Times reported. Lloyd is an expert in the pottery highlighted in the exhibit, but is also mounting a show in which 13 of the 24 works for sale are by artists who have other work in the Scripps exhibit. Scripps officials cited Lloyd's expertise as a reason to have him co-curate the exhibit at the college.
The American Museum of Natural History, in New York City, is starting a 15-month master of arts program in teaching to train earth science teachers, The New York Times reported. Tuition will be free and students will receive $30,000 stipends and health insurance.
Education ministers and academics from the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia have formed the Visegrad Group to promote improvements in their higher education systems, The New York Times reported. With increased student mobility in Europe, leading educators in the four countries want to make sure their graduates' credentials are well-respected elsewhere, and that their programs are competitive.
Anonymous e-mail messages sent to faculty members at the University of Illinois came from the laptop of Lisa Troyer, then chief of staff to Michael Hogan, president of the university system, according to an outside investigation released by the university on Friday. Troyer left her position after an inquiry started. Many faculty members were alarmed by the prospect that an administrator was trying to influence governance decisions through anonymous e-mail messages. The outside investigation said that the e-mail messages were sent during a time that Troyer had possession of the laptop, and that there was no evidence of hacking. Troyer sent The Chicago Tribune an e-mail in which she said: "I did not write or send the emails under question.... I had nothing to do with these emails and, although the source and motivation have not yet been uncovered, I believe that in the fullness of time, the truth behind this matter will be revealed."
A South Carolina jury has awarded $1 million to two boys who were forced to play a "choking game" while at a Clemson University summer camp in 2008, The Post and Courier reported. The lawsuit charged that Clemson should not have let the counselor have access to the boys without a background check that would have turned up red flags. A university spokeswoman said that an appeal is planned because "we believe the award is excessive" and "is not supported by the facts in the case."
California leads the nation in unaccredited colleges, The New York Times reported. Nearly 1,000 unaccredited or "questionably accredited" institutions operate in the state, frequently ignoring state regulations. "There are a lot of schools that beg the question 'What exactly is going on in California?' " Eyal Ben Cohen, managing director of Accredibase Limited, a company based in London that monitors diploma mills, told the Times. "California has very weak oversight procedures as far as allowing an institution to operate within its borders. An institution within California can obtain a license very easily."
Washington and Lee University will hold classes today, over the objections of students who wanted classes called off to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, The Washington Post reported. Colleges' practices on calling off classes for the holiday vary. While some colleges observe the day without classes, many colleges hold classes on most federal holidays, not wanting to have fewer sessions held on Mondays than on other days. And many colleges have long January breaks, so that classes wouldn't be held today in any case. At Washington and Lee, the issue is complicated by the university's observance (later this week) of Founders' Day on the birthday of Robert E. Lee, one of those for whom the university is named. On that day, students have a shorter class schedule so that they can attend a convocation. A university spokesman said that the university honors King's memory with programs that show respect for the late civil rights leader's legacy. "We believe that canceling classes is not the only way, or even necessarily the most meaningful way, to demonstrate that respect," the spokesman said.