Digital artists who work for movie studies are furious about a new collaboration between Digital Domain -- a company that does digital work for many major movies -- and Florida State University, The Los Angeles Times reported. A new Digital Domain Institute will provide a three-year program of training in the industry (while students also complete bachelor's degrees at Florida State). During their time at the institute (for which students will pay tuition) they will have the chance to volunteer for Digital Domain assignments. While supporters say that the new program will offer students valuable experience, those who currently get paid for such work have a different perspective. One blogger wrote: '"A major [visual effects] company is now turning the routinely accepted practice of free labor into a major part of its business plan."
Higher Education Quick Takes
When the University of Kansas won the 2008 national title in men’s basketball, classes were called off for a day of revelry. Same thing happened when the Jayhawks won the 1988 championship. But this time, as Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little made clear last week in an e-mail to campus, that Tuesday-morning anthropology lecture was happening whether Kansas won or lost its Monday night game against the University of Kentucky. “I believe that our first mission as a university is to foster academic success and that is accomplished in part by setting high expectations for our students,” she wrote. “A national title would be worthy of celebration, but we are confident those celebrations can take place without disrupting KU's academic mission.” She also encouraged students to celebrate safely, and offered the campus arena as a venue to watch the game.
Kentucky President Eli Capilouto expressed similar sentiments in a message to his campus. A spokeswoman said a big game has never been cause to call off classes -- students were in lecture halls the day after national titles in 1996 and 1998.
Elsewhere, the practice of canceling class time to celebrate athletics has drawn criticism. When the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa canceled classes after winning the football championship this year, the Faculty Senate protested. But perhaps a protest is inevitable. In 1952, the Lawrence Journal-World reports, Kansas students marched on the chancellor's house demanding a day off after the college's first basketball championship. (He said no.) Following in those footsteps, an online petition by Kansas students calls celebratory off days a “university tradition” and had more than 725 signatures Monday afternoon.
One student told the campus newspaper he supported the chancellor's decision, but wasn't sure he'd be attending class Tuesday. "I will make a game-time decision," he said.
Since 2008, California State University has settled seven cases brought by whistle-blowers who brought charges of wrongdoing to the attention of superiors, and said that they were subsequently punished for doing so, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The story focuses on Justin Schwartz, a lecturer at Cal State East Bay who reported that a colleague in the recreation department spent university funds to buy himself a $4,000 bike, gym passes and sailing equipment. The campus investigation confirmed the allegations. Schwartz is now out of a job (the university says that's because of budget cuts). The man he accused is still employed.
The Australian government today unveiled a new website designed to give would-be applicants (domestically and internationally) to the country's 39 public universities information about everything from their fees, faculty credentials and student graduation outcomes to their child-care services and campus pubs, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Federal officials (sounding like their American counterparts) said they hoped the transparency provided by MyUniversity would "help drive universities to lift performance and quality." Campus officials told the newspaper (privately) that they are skeptical.
The law dean of the University of St. Thomas has released an open letter to Bob Morse, the head of the college rankings of U.S. News & World Report, objecting to the magazine's decision to declare the law school "unranked." The law school was declined a ranking after it reported that it had provided both accurate and inaccurate data on its job placement rates, and the inaccurate data had been used to rank the school. Thomas M. Mengler, the dean, noted that the magazine typically does not change rankings when errors are discovered after the rankings are released -- even in cases where the information provided was intentionally incorrect. "If the decision to 'unrank' is indeed a change in protocol, this leads to the policy concern I would like to highlight – the fact that your decision will create a disincentive for law schools to promptly report mistaken or erroneous data," Mengler wrote. "When other law schools lied, you called on all law schools to protect the integrity of the data and ultimately the reporting. We did that even for an unintentional mistake. And while we are willing to live with the unfortunate consequences, I fear your decision will serve as a disincentive for others to self-report errors."
Brian Kelly, editor of the magazine, responded with a letter in which he said: "We made this decision for the 2013 law school rankings at a time of continuing conversation about law school data, both inside and outside the academy. Some schools have been accused of publishing inaccurate or misleading data. The American Bar Association is imposing more stringent reporting rules. And at U.S. News our responsibility is to continue to provide timely and relevant information about law schools to our readers, and to make them aware of new developments or changes in information. That is what we did in this case."
A survey of faculty members at Shorter University found that most of them disagree with new requirements that they pledge to live by certain Christian principles (defined to bar, among other things, any sex outside of heterosexual marriage), and many hope to leave as a result, The Rome News-Tribune reported. The survey found that only 10 percent of faculty members favor signing new pledges to abide by the requirements, that only 12 percent plan to stay at the university, and only 8 percent have confidence in the institution's direction. University officials questioned the accuracy of the survey because it was anonymous, but faculty organizers of the survey said that it needed to be anonymous to encourage honest answers.
An administrative judge has overturned a U.S. Education Department fine of $55,000 against Virginia Tech for failing to more speedily notify the campus of a threat on the tragic day in 2007 when 33 people died, The Washington Post reported. Some have faulted the university for not immediately notifying everyone on campus, once the first reports of a shooting came in. Virginia Tech officials have said that, after the first report, they had reason to believe that the shooter had left the campus. The judge's decision late Thursday said that the two-hour period before a warning went out "was not an unreasonable amount of time in which to issue a warning.... If the later shootings at Norris Hall had not occurred, it is doubtful that the timing of the e-mail would have been perceived as too late."
In a statement, Virginia Tech officials said they were "satisfied" with the judge's ruling, but that "there is no glee" given the events of five years ago. "Because of what happened here, we know that higher education changed on April 16, 2007. New laws, protocols, practices, policies, and technologies grew from our tragedy. We hope that lessons from this unforeseeable crime will continue to inform the practices affecting campus safety throughout the nation and the world."
Both houses of the Colorado Legislature have now passed -- and the governor is expected to sign -- legislation permitting public colleges to offer binding multiyear contracts to those off the tenure track. To date, all adjunct employment has been strictly "at will." Supporters of the bill said that it would provide some job security for those doing much of the college teaching in the state.
For the second year in a row, Texas Tech University has won the Final Four in chess. After games in which each of four finalists play the other teams, Texas Tech's squad earned 8 points, narrowly edging out the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (each of which finished with 7.5 points), The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported. New York University was fourth. There could be big changes next year, however, as Texas Tech's coach, Susan Polgar, is moving to Webster University, taking key team members with her.
Research and development expenditures at Johns Hopkins University topped $2 billion in the 2010 fiscal year, according to data released last week by the National Science Foundation. Hopkins has led the list for decades because of federal support of its Applied Physics Laboratory. Of the $61.2 billion in R&D expenditures at universities, $21.5 billion in spending takes place at the top 25 universities, and just over $60 billion in activity takes place at doctoral institutions. Public institutions account for $41.2 billion in spending. Following Hopkins are: University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ($1.2 billion), University of Wisconsin at Madison ($1 billion), University of Washington at Seattle ($1 billion), and Duke University ($983 million).