Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, December 13, 2010 - 3:00am

A panel that oversees the names of buildings at Eastern Illinois University has rejected the idea of renaming Douglas Hall, which is named for Stephen Douglas, the senator who debated Lincoln and who advocated the rights of individual states to keep slavery, The Journal Gazette and Times-Courier reported. The Faculty Senate at the university urged that the name be changed, arguing that Douglas was not worthy of being honored with a building at a state university. Critics of the faculty proposal said that Douglas should not be judged by today's standards, although faculty members noted that many of his contemporaries viewed his as an ardent defender of slavery, to the detriment not only of slaves but of the United States.

Monday, December 13, 2010 - 3:00am

Bennie Wilcox, former dean of law at Kaplan University, was convicted Friday of sending threatening e-mail messages to various Kaplan officials, Bloomberg reported. The e-mails were sent under other names, but prosecutors charged Wilcox sent them. He has denied the charges and has maintained that he was framed in retaliation for being a whistle blower in a suit charging Kaplan with various violations of federal student aid rules.

Monday, December 13, 2010 - 3:00am

Colorado State University has created a new panel to consider the admission of some athletes and musicians of "exceptional talent" who don't meet regular admissions criteria. While the new committee will not just focus on admitting athletes, The Coloradoan reported that the impetus for creating the panel was a dispute over eight athletes who had been denied admission through the standard process. After the athletic director appealed, all of the athletes were admitted.

Monday, December 13, 2010 - 3:00am

A federal judge has ruled that Martin Gaskell, an astronomer formerly at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, has the right to sue the University of Kentucky over a job offer he didn't get after search committee members focused on his criticism of evolutionary theory, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. Gaskell was the leading candidate for the job before discussion on the search committee turned to his views on evolution, according to court documents. Gaskell says he lost the job due to illegal religious discrimination because of his religious views as a Christian. But university officials have argued that one's views on evolution are relevant in hiring for scientific positions.

Friday, December 10, 2010 - 3:00am

Sister Marie E. Thornton, a nun who formerly was the top financial officer at Iona College, has been charged with embezzling $1.2 million from the college by allegedly turning in false invoices and submitting credit card bills for personal expenses, The Journal News reported. She was known on campus as "Sister Susie" and surrendered to authorities Thursday. The New York Post is having a field day with the story (its headline is "Take the $$ & nun" and lead sentence is "Talk about a really bad habit.") The newspaper also noted that she entered a plea of not guilty and that her lawyer said: "We think the case will be resolved in a manner fair to all the parties involved."

Friday, December 10, 2010 - 3:00am

After a public copyright dispute in January, the Association for Information and Media Equipment says it has filed suit against the University of California at Los Angeles and the system’s Board of Regents. The association, a trade group that represents 16 educational media companies, objected to UCLA’s practice of allowing students to stream copyrighted videos on their course websites. Since course websites are not classrooms, the group said, the “fair use” exemptions for educational use do not apply. UCLA has said that since the course websites are password-protected, streaming videos on the site is the same as showing them in class, except far more convenient for students and professors. Allen Dohra, president of the trade group and vice president of Ambrose Video Publishing, which is named as a co-plaintiff in the suit, said in a press release that UCLA is undermining Ambrose’s own streaming service, which it offers at a price to subscribers. “UCLA’s behavior spells catastrophe for the entire educational video market, which increasingly will turn to streaming video,” the group said in the release.

Friday, December 10, 2010 - 3:00am

An Education Department report issued Thursday faulted Virginia Tech for failing to notify the campus of danger after the first shootings in 2007 on an April day that left 32 dead. The report says that the university should have notified the campus as soon as the first reports came in, and that failure to do so violated federal requirements. The university issued a statement strongly objecting to the report, saying that Virginia Tech officials acted on the best available information and well within federal reporting requirements.

Friday, December 10, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Phoenix on Thursday published its third annual report on the academic outcomes of its students. Inside Higher Ed articles on earlier iterations of the report examined the strengths and flaws of the university's approach; this year's report shows little change in the institution's graduation rates, and compares its students' performance on tests of information literacy and academic proficiency to students at peer institutions. Phoenix's report remains unusual, in both for-profit and traditional higher education, for its straightforwardness and high visibility.

Thursday, December 9, 2010 - 3:00am

Four former athletes at the University of Toledo will plead guilty to charges related to fixing the outcome of football and men's basketball games, The Toledo Blade reported. The allegations concern a two-year period starting in December 2004.

Thursday, December 9, 2010 - 3:00am

Students and a professor at the University of Maine, in Orono, blocked a students from butchering and skinning a live rabbit Saturday during a class on film-making, The Bangor Daily News reported. Students intervened after the student who planned to use the rabbit in an unexpected way walked to the front of the class with a rabbit in a box. "When he whipped out the knife, people started screaming, crying, running out of the room,” said another student. The university is investigating the incident. Dane Bolding, the student involved, explained his action this way: "I feel like documentary films often put a lot in front of us. I guess that my intention was to really put something in front of the class."

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