Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - 3:00am

The renovation of the student center at the University of Colorado at Boulder was finished this fall, adding more comfortable seating and a fireplace, among other amenities. The Boulder Daily Camera reported that the new facility and the particularly cold winter have drawn homeless people to the center in greater numbers than in the past. Some students have raised concerns, but officials say that as long as the homeless people don't break rules, they cannot be kicked out of a public building.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - 3:00am

Utah State Representative Chris Herrod introduced a bill Monday to require the state's public colleges and universities to stop offering tenure to faculty members, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Higher education leaders are speaking out against the bill, saying it would make it difficult to attract top academic talent to the state. (Currently tenured faculty members would not have their tenure revoked.) Herrod said that the bill would be good for higher education. In tight budget times, he said, “I would hate to have to cut a young, energetic Ph.D." to preserve a position for a tenured professor who is "barely there."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - 3:00am

The London School of Economics and Political Science has declined to ban from a panel discussion on Europe's future two speakers who are seen as anti-Muslim for questioning the willingness of Muslim immigrants to integrate themselves into German society, Times Higher Education reported. German students and academics based in Britain had asked for the panelists to be removed, but the student organizers and the institution itself declined to do so, citing a commitment to free speech.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - 3:00am

Gallaudet University announced Monday that it will eliminate 17 academic programs (pdf) in a gradual process that will end in August 2013. Six undergraduate majors, six undergraduate minors, three master’s degree programs, one educational specialist program, and one doctoral program will be affected. No faculty layoffs of any kind are planned. The programs include an undergraduate major and minor in French, majors in theater arts and computer science, and a master's program in deaf history.

The announcement comes after a university task force spent seven months reviewing 99 undergraduate and graduate academic program offerings “on a set of agreed-upon common criteria for recommending growth, monitoring, restructuring, merging, or discontinuing.” A campus-wide public comment session followed. The review was prompted in an effort to meet the goals set out in the university’s “Vision 2020” plan, explained Benjamin J. Soukup, chair of the university’s board of trustees. “We feel these recommendations will help us meet those milestones and dramatically improve our offerings to ensure Gallaudet’s continued growth and success,” he said.

Jane Dillehay, chair of the Gallaudet Faculty Senate, issued the following statement on its behalf: "As a whole we recognize that resources are limited and our ability to support all of our programs effectively are limited. Our first commitment is to provide an educational experience to prepare today's students for their futures. While many faculty remain concerned with flaws in the process, the Program Prioritization Task Force was a product of shared governance. The university provost and president have pledged to continue that approach in developing an implementation plan for transition to help students complete their studies by August 2013, place faculty in other programs to avoid layoffs, and reallocate resources to support our stronger programs."

Monday, February 14, 2011 - 3:00am

New Hampshire's Public Employee Labor Relations Board has ruled that a majority of adjuncts in the Community College System of New Hampshire have signed authorization cards to have the State Employees' Association represent them for collective bargaining. As a result, the board declared that the association, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, now represents the adjuncts. The association already represents full-time professors, as well as clerical and maintenance employees, in the community college system.

Monday, February 14, 2011 - 3:00am

"Extreme" origami is hot at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The Boston Globe reported, with students able to make extremely intricate designs (we're not talking about those paper cranes of your youth) in minutes. More information may be found on the website of OrigaMIT.

Monday, February 14, 2011 - 3:00am

Faculty members at Idaho State University have voted no confidence in President Arthur Vailas, according to Boise Weekly. A faculty report details what professors consider to be numerous problems with Vailas, raising issues about the accuracy of his statements, his leadership abilities and the way he has responded to budget challenges, among other issues. A statement from the president's office stated that he "enjoys widespread support from other constituencies."

Monday, February 14, 2011 - 3:00am

Afghanistan's universities are suffering severe financial problems at a time that they are badly needed to promote the development of the country, The Washington Post reported. Among the key problems are laws that bar charging tuition and that prohibit universities from creating endowments. The result is dependence on the government and outside agencies, which have limited funds. Last year, the 22 public universities and education institutes operated on a combined total of $35 million, the Post said.

Monday, February 14, 2011 - 3:00am

Three teams that had been slated for elimination at the University of California at Berkeley -- women's lacrosse, women's gymnastics and rugby -- will be maintained, the university announced Friday. The teams were among five proposed for elimination last year, as the university tried to trim its athletic spending amid major budget cuts for the university. Baseball and men's gymnastics -- the other two teams -- will be phased out. Berkeley officials credited philanthropic commitments for allowing some of the teams to survive, but others have noted that the elimination of the women's teams would have created challenges for the university in demonstrating compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Monday, February 14, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Utah is investigating allegations of plagiarism against Bahman Baktiari, director of the institution's Middle East Center, in an op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune, that newspaper reported. The newspaper has since removed the op-ed from its website. Faculty members and students identified several instances of unattributed material from sources such as The New York Times and The Economist and shared their analysis with senior university officials and the Tribune. Baktiari told the newspaper he didn't know attribution was needed for newspaper op-eds.

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