Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 17, 2014

The University of Saskatchewan has told David Williams, an associate professor in the business school, to remove posters with profanity and blow-up dolls in business attire from his office, CTV Saskatoon reported.  Daphne Taras, the business dean said of the nontraditional nature of his office: “It’s not a little bit. It’s a lot. The entire thing crosses a line from sort of edgy to creepy. An office provided on public funds that is part of an employment setting should not be such that students, faculty or staff should be offended when they walk in.” Williams has filed a grievance asking for permission to keep his office decorated as he sees fit.

 

February 17, 2014

The National Labor Relations Board late last week halted an adjunct union vote at Loyola Marymount University, due to reports of university interference in the organizing process. The election, slated to have begun Friday, won't go forward until the board investigates an unfair labor practice complaint lodged by Loyola Marymount union organizers. The complaint says the university had "interfered with, restrained and coerced" adjuncts by "soliciting employee grievances and expressly or impliedly [sic]sic on that word? -********cf okj promising favorable resolution of these grievances." A university spokeswoman said Friday that the university was not aware of any activity supporting the allegations. Adjuncts at Loyola Marymount are attempting to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union, which is attempting to organize adjuncts across Los Angeles and several other metro areas, including Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., as part of its Adjunct Action campaign. SEIU alleges that Loyola Marymount has held mandatory, small-group meetings for adjuncts, during which administrators have asked them to vote down the union.

February 17, 2014

Portland State University has agreed to pay $160,000 and to change some policies to settle a lawsuit filed by a deaf student, and another settlement -- that one with the U.S. Justice Department - is pending in the case, The Oregonian reported. The student's complaint said that the university barred her from dormitories with carpeting and biology labs because she uses a service dog. Further, she said that the university failed to intervene when she suffered harassment in the dormitory when people would knock on her door in the middle of the night, knowing that do so would prompt her service dog to wake her up. A statement from the university said: "While we deny the allegations of the complaint, we acknowledge that Ms. Leland's experience was difficult and wish her success as she continues her studies."

 

February 17, 2014

The board of Pennsylvania State University is expected today to name Eric Barron as the institution's next president, The Centre Daily Times reported. Barron, a former dean at Penn State, has been president of Florida State University since 2010. The Penn State search has been difficult, as the university continues to recover from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and as an earlier leading candidate pulled out of contention amid reports he had been padding his salary without authorization from his board.

February 17, 2014

The nearly 3,800 academic libraries in the United States had nearly one electronic book for every four paper documents in their collections and nearly 86,000 full-time-equivalent employees in 2012, and 223 of them had more than 1 million books in their collections, about the same number as in 2008, the National Center for Education Statistics said in an annual report released last week.

The report, "Academic Libraries: 2012," provides an array of statistics about the status of academic libraries. Comparing the data for 2012 to those from a comparable report in 2008 reveals some trends about the shape of their collections and staffs, among other things. Among them:

  • The 3,793 academic libraries had just under 1.099 billion books in their collections, compared to 1.052 billion held by the 3,827 academic libraries in 2008. In 2008, the libraries had 102 million ebooks, less than 10 percent the size of their paper collections. In 2012, they had 250 million ebooks, almost 25 percent the size of their paper collections.
  • The libraries had 93,438 FTE staff in 2008, including 27,000 librarians, about 7,500 full-time-equivalent professional staff, and about 24,000 student assistants. Those numbers had dropped by 2012, to 85,752 full-time-equivalent employees, about 26,000 librarians, and about 20,500 student assistants.
February 17, 2014

Oregon State University announced Friday that the engineering dean and the head of the electrical engineering and computer science program were both being removed from their positions immediately, although they remain on the faculty, The Oregonian reported. The dean, Sandra Woods, had earlier moved to dismiss the head of the electrical engineering program, Terri Fiez, but had agreed to let Fiez finish out the academic year. Many faculty and business leaders criticized Woods for dismissing Fiez.

 

February 17, 2014

Students at Reed College created a massive snowball last week and when rolling it, lost control of the 800-lb. creation, and it crashed into a dormitory, literally breaking through the wall. Details are here.

big snowball photo

Giant snowball cracks wall in Reed dorm.

 

 

February 14, 2014

Pearson, the education-technology company, this week announced that it has created a new digital badging system, dubbed Acclaim. The open platform, which the company rolled out this week at a Silicon Valley event on badging, allows learners to display their skills, knowledge and achievements on the Web. The Mozilla Foundation and Blackboard have also worked on digital badging, having collaborated on a separate platform.

February 14, 2014

A review of the literature on scientific genius and age -- published by the National Bureau of Economic Research -- may challenge conventional wisdom. "Formal studies are often surprising, both in their findings and in their broader implications. In contrast to common perceptions, most great scientific contributions are not the product of precocious youngsters but rather come disproportionately in middle age," the study says. "Moreover, perceptions that some fields, such as physics, feature systematically younger contributions than others do not stand up to empirical scrutiny."

 

February 14, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Matthew Johnson of Binghamton University explains the link between poverty and marriage stability. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

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