The American Council of Learned Societies has started a new fellowship program that will place eight recent humanities Ph.D.s in paid positions (with health insurance) for two years in government agencies and nonprofit groups. The effort, funded with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is designed "to demonstrate that the capacities developed in the advanced study of the humanities have wide application, both within and beyond the academy."
Higher Education Quick Takes
A regent of the University of Minnesota -- faced with a potential conflict of interest -- has opted to keep his position on the board and relinquish an $80,000-a-year job at the university's public policy school, The Star-Tribune of Minneapolis reported. Steve Sviggum, a former legislative leader in the state, joined the university's Board of Regents last month, soon after he took a post as a legislative fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The dual posts drew charges of a possible conflict of interest for Sviggum, who disputed the existence of a conflict but said his service to the university as a regent outweighed his interest in the job.
Charles McCaslin, a Southern Methodist University junior, quit his position as chair of the Texas College Republicans last week after video surfaced of him describing a hook-up and calling those opposing his preferred candidate for chairmanship of the national college Republican group "nerds and fags," The Dallas Morning News reported. The comments came in his endorsement of another candidate for the national position. McCaslin has since apologized. The video is here:
A federal judge has reduced the $5 million in damages awarded (in total) to two law professors to a total of $400,000, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The professors sued West Publishing Corp. after they were named as the authors of an addendum to a work they had written. The professors charged that their reputations were hurt by being seen as authors of the addendum, which they didn't write and didn't think highly of. The judge didn't dispute the basic facts that led to the jury award, but said that the original award could not be justified by the damage done to the professors.
Rutgers University has raised some eyebrows by going to the practice of paying commencement speakers, and signing a deal to pay Toni Morrison, the Nobel laureate, $30,000 to appear this year. But now comes the news from The Star-Ledger that Rutgers paid $32,000 to Snooki, the reality star, for a question-and-answer session on the campus. During her talk, Snooki advised the students to "study hard, but party harder."
An American Bar Association committee, which met this weekend in Chicago to continue its review of law school accreditation standards, heard complaints from numerous legal experts who argue that some of the proposals being considered would significantly weaken legal education. Representatives from the Clinical Legal Education Association, the Society of American Law Teachers, the Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) all testified Saturday before the ABA’s Standards Review Committee, primarily in protest of proposed provisions that would eliminate requirements that law schools have tenure systems and use the LSAT in admissions. The ABA Journal reported Saturday that, after reviewing a letter from AALS urging the committee to put its accreditation review on hold, Donald J. Polden, committee chair and dean of the Santa Clara University School of Law, said “he hadn’t heard anything that would persuade him the committee should stop what it’s doing."
Susan Prager, AALS executive director, told Inside Higher Ed that many individual law school faculty members testified before the committee at an open forum Saturday, offering personal anecdotes about why tenure is important to them. She also clarified that AALS does not want the Standards Review Committee to halt its review entirely, just that it wants the committee to take more time to consider the implications of the many changes it is considering. Though some proposals were approved, specific proposals regarding the more contentious items -- such as tenure and the LSAT -- were not voted on at this weekend's meeting, meaning that the committee will take more time to review them before making a formal recommendation to the broader ABA.
At Madison Area Technical College, full-time faculty members can earn more than twice as much as adjuncts for teaching the same course, according to an analysis by the Wisconsin State Journal. College officials at Madison Tech and elsewhere tend to dismiss such comparisons, noting that full-time faculty have non-teaching duties. But the newspaper said that its calculations were based on the percentage of time that full-time faculty members are supposed to teach.
A new alliance among Latin American nations is promoting an internationalization of higher education within the region as a counter to U.S. influence, Times Higher Education reported. The Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (also known as the Alba alliance) includes Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela. The alliance has been promoting universal, free higher education (sometimes drawing criticism from university leaders). Through the alliance, international student enrollments are rising in Cuba and Venezuela.
Columbia University took a major step Friday toward the return of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps with a 51 to 17 vote of the University Senate for a resolution calling for the institution to "explore mutually beneficial relationships with the armed forces of the United States, including participation in the programs of the Reserve Officers Training Corps," The New York Times reported. Like a number of other colleges and universities, Columbia has in recent years cited the military's discrimination against gay people as incompatible with the university's values, and the federal law authorizing the end of "don't ask, don't tell" has been expected to prompt the university to welcome ROTC back. (It was removed during the Vietnam era.) Harvard University announced last month that it had negotiated to return ROTC to its campus.