Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Regina planned with a local business group to sponsor a series of lectures by professors in a public park during the summer, but the faculty members have all called off their talks after the business group objected to one of the topics planned for discussion, Global Regina reported. The lecture topic was the movement to boycott Israel as a means of helping the Palestinians. When Emily Eaton, the geography professor who planned that topic, said that she was uninvited to speak, her colleagues decided they would not speak either.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Anthropological Association has released guidelines for evaluating faculty members who work in applied anthropology, including public interest and community work. The guidelines suggest that faculty members can be evaluated on grounds beyond traditional research publications, while still applying rigor to reviews. Similar discussions in the fields of history and sociology have encouraged broader definitions within tenure reviews of contributions to a discipline.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, James Sullivan of the University of Notre Dame explains the limitations of how poverty is measured in the United States. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity voted to recommend extending the recognition of three accrediting agencies Thursday, although the American Bar Association's accrediting arm proved controversial among the committee's members.

The committee, known as NACIQI, hears reports from Education Department staff members on accrediting agencies and votes on whether to recommend that the department continue to recognize them -- a significant task, since only students at institutions accredited by a federally recognized agency are eligible to receive federal financial aid. Thursday was the second day of NACIQI's three-day semiannual meeting.

As at the meeting Wednesday, when all agencies were granted at least a conditional extension of recognition, the committee made its recommendations despite evidence of problems in some agencies. Among the most concerning was the American Bar Association, which had 17 violations of department requirements -- not a remarkably high number in a season of increased scrutiny, but enough to give accreditors pause. The committee eventually voted 9 to 4 to extend recognition, and the agency is required to show within a year that it has fixed the areas of concern.

The agency extended similar conditional recognition to the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools and the Council on Occupational Education before moving on to discuss its recommended revisions to the Higher Education Act when it comes up for amendment in 2013. The discussion focused on the regulatory burden of data collection. Committee members agreed that data collection for institutional self-improvement and for federal eligibility for student financial aid need to be decoupled, but without offering suggestions for how such a system might work.

The discussion continues at today's meeting.

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 3:00am

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is proposing legislation to increase tuition at the State University of New York by 5 percent annually for the next five years, with 8 percent increases at the system's four research universities, The New York Times reported. Further, he said that the funds raised would be used for SUNY, ending a long-standing practice -- the source of deep frustration to SUNY officials and students -- that only small portions of tuition increases actually support SUNY while the rest helps with the state budget. SUNY officials have been pushing for regular increases in tuition, and the research universities have been arguing for rates higher than those charged for other campuses. While Cuomo has pledged increased aid for low-income students, some have questioned whether the tuition increases would discourage students.

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Officials at Southern Methodist University blocked The Daily Campus, the student newspaper, from including a column critical of the university's board in an issue mailed to incoming students. As recounted by The Student Press Law Center, SMU has asked for prior review of that issue (and not regular issues) as a condition of providing the paper with the addresses of the freshmen. SMU officials said that they didn't see the relevance of the column for that issue. The Daily Campus has now published the column on its website. The topic: the need for more transparency on the Board of Trustees.

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, York University's Allan Hutchinson discusses the principles of common law that provide the core of most legal systems. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 3:00am

An article from Reuters profiles the Venezuelan Indigenous University, which educates 100 students from the country's various tribes, providing a mix of their own traditions and a modern university education.

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Hebrew University of Jerusalem will be awarding 4 of its 10 honorary doctorates at this month's commencement to scholars from Germany. One of them will go to Annette Schavan, the minister of education and research. While the university has awarded honorary degrees to Germans in the past, officials said that the number was unprecedented and reflected growing ties between German and Israeli universities.

Thursday, June 9, 2011 - 3:00am

Adjunct faculty members at East-West University, in Chicago, voted to unionize and to be represented by a chapter of the National Education Association. The vote follows numerous disputes in which the organizers accused the university of eliminating adjunct jobs to avoid a vote. The university released a statement after the vote in which it said: "All faculty and staff should be aware that this election will not affect anyone. Nor will this affect the current operations of the university. Although the university will bargain in good faith with the union representatives, this does not change our mission focusing on excellence and service."

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