In today's Academic Minute, Andreas Wilke of Clarkson University reveals the unexpected benefits depression brings to the decision making process. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of South Carolina has suspended its fraternity rush in the wake of a slew of drinking-related violations as students returned to campus last week, The State reported. A university administrator said it had taken the "unprecedented step" of suspending the selection process for all fraternities -- not just those at which the six incidents took place -- because the institution "will not tolerate activities that jeopardize the safety and health of students or foster a culture of disrespect for rules and regulations." No date has been set for resuming rush.
Governor Rick Perry, the Texan whose entry has shaken up the race for the Republican presidential nomination, is continuing to question evolution. The Huffington Post has published videos of him in New Hampshire calling evolution "a theory that's out there," and a theory with "some gaps in it." Then on Thursday, after a supporter in South Carolina praised his remarks, he said, “Well, God is how we got here. God may have done it in the blink of the eye or he may have done it over this long period of time, I don't know. But I know how it got started."
Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor who is one of Perry's rivals for the nomination, then spoke out in defense of evolution, criticizing Perry's statements both on origins and on climate change (Perry doubts the science). On Twitter, Huntsman wrote: "To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy." And he told ABC that "When we take a position that isn't willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science has said about what is causing climate change and man's contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position."
Central Michigan University administrators said late Sunday that the university would hold classes this morning despite the vote by its faculty union earlier in the day to strike. Leaders of Central Michigan's Faculty Association said university administrators had adopted a "take-it-or-leave-it" attitude in negotiations over renewing the contract for its 600-plus members, prompting them to file unfair labor practice charges. Campus officials said that they would seek a court's injunction this morning to bar what they called an "illegal work stoppage," and that students should report because fixed-term faculty members and graduate teaching assistants would "still hold classes as scheduled."
The United States Department of Education has fined Washington State University $82,500 for improperly reporting two reported sex assaults, the Associated Press reported. The university is appealing the fine -- the result of an audit of crime reporting procedures -- but also says that it has improved its system since the inquiry. In one incident, a reported assault was recorded as a "domestic dispute" when it may have involved a rape. In the other, the university's police report of an alleged assault listed it as "unfounded" after the victim decided not to provide details, but the person who made that determination did not have the authority to do so.
For the first time, students will pay more in total to attend the University of California in 2011-12 than the 10-campus system will receive in state funding, the Los Angeles Times reported. While this has been true for other public colleges and universities for some time, UC's historically low tuition and California's historically strong support for public higher education have kept these lines from crossing only now. But with California's budget in tatters, UC, like many public institutions, has raised tuitions to make up for the lost state funds. "When these things happen, how often do they reverse themselves?" the Times quoted Patrick Lenz, the university's vice president of budget and capital resources, as saying. "Never."
The Faculty Senate of Southern University at Baton Rouge has rejected a request to approve furloughs for professors, and to shorten the time required before jobs may be eliminated, The Advocate reported. The vote followed statements from President James Llorens that he is likely to ask the Southern board to declare financial exigency in the next week, unless he could get furloughs accepted. That would allow the university, among other things, to dismiss tenured professors. Faculty leaders said that more money could be saved with administrative cuts before furloughs would be needed or declaring financial exigency would be appropriate.
A local judge has dismissed a conservative watchdog group's lawsuit challenging a Maryland community college's policy that lets recent graduates of the county's high schools pay lower tuition rates, even if they are not legal U.S. residents. The ruling in Montgomery County Circuit Court blocks Judicial Watch's lawsuit against Montgomery College; the lawsuit charged that "[b]y providing reduced, in-county tuition to all students who graduate from Montgomery County public high schools, regardless of their residence or status as unlawfully present aliens, Montgomery College is failing to collect revenue that, by state and federal law, it is required to collect." The court ruled that the three county residents who served as Judicial Watch's plaintiffs did not have standing to sue the college. A lawyer for the college, Michael Hays of Dow Lohnes, said that the college "believes that its tuition policy is fully consistent with all applicable laws and regulations."
White applicants for grants from the National Institutes of Health were significantly likelier than black researchers to win funding, according to a Science magazine study published Thursday that sought (and struggled) to explain the reasons for the gap. The study found that about 16 percent of black applicants were successful in winning NIH grants, compared to about 29 percent of applications from white researchers and 25 percent of Asian researchers. The gap between black and white applicants shrank (to about 10 percent, from 13 percent) but was sustained even after controlling for factors such as the applicants' educational background, country of origin, training, previous research awards, publication record and employer characteristics. But the gap disappeared among applicants whose applications emerged from the peer review process with "strong" scores.
The study, which was commissioned by the NIH and drew expressions of concern from its officials, said it was difficult to gauge what caused the gaps in grants or in the scoring of the submitted proposals, but suggested that they could be caused by differences in the quality of the papers or by racial bias. "Although our models do not fully explain the funding gap, the greatest differences between blacks and whites that we observed were in the effect of previous training and the probability of receiving a priority score," the researchers wrote. "Although more research is needed to discern the basis for the award differences, it is possible that cumulative advantage may be involved."
A study published Thursday in Science found that science graduate students are more likely to improve their research skills if they are also teaching. The study counters conventional wisdom that time spent on teaching limits advancement in research. David Feldon, assistant professor of education at the University of Virginia and lead investigator on the study, found that graduate students in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics who both teach and conduct research demonstrate greater growth over an academic year in their abilities to generate testable hypotheses and design experiments around those hypotheses than do grad students who only conduct research.