Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 19, 2013

The University of Oxford announced Monday that it is temporarily blocking access to Google Docs, citing a series of "phishing" attacks in which people have used Google Docs to collect e-mail addresses linked to the university's network. A statement from Oxford said: "We appreciate and apologize for the disruption this caused for our users. Nevertheless, we must always think in terms of the overall risk to the university as a whole, and we certainly cannot rule out taking such action again in future, although our thresholds for doing so may be somewhat higher. We are meanwhile investigating several possible technical measures for reducing the risks to the university with less impact on legitimate network usage, and will be reviewing our emergency communications procedures. We will also be pressuring Google that they need to be far more responsive, if not proactive, regarding abuse of their services for criminal activities."

 

February 19, 2013

Some students at Susquehanna University are questioning a decision to remove 11 members from the football and track and field times because of their participation in a "Harlem Shake" Internet video, WNEP 16 News reported. Many students around the country are filming videos in which they dance to a hip-hop song. The objection at Susquehanna was to simulated sexual acts during part of the video. The university said that the athletes' behavior was "disappointing," but added that they were given plans that, if completed, would allow them to return to their teams. Some students thought the university overreacted.

The video is below and does feature (clothed) simulated acts, so please view only if you are comfortable doing so.

 

 

February 19, 2013

A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that there may be an economic payoff to attending a diverse college. The study compared individuals who answered questions in the Add Health database (which covers a wide range of issues). The analysis finds "a positive link" between attending colleges with more diversity and higher earning levels and family income levels. No link was found to greater rates of voting or higher levels of education.

 

February 19, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Ed Baptist of Cornell University explores the cultural and economic importance of cotton in antebellum America. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

February 19, 2013

The presidents of 17 Sisters of Mercy colleges, along with educators at 32 secondary schools and 9 elementary schools affiliated with the order, have issued a letter calling for new measures to promote "a culture of non-violence" in American society. "The unspeakable use of a military assault weapon to massacre elementary school children compels us as leaders in Mercy education to speak, to say 'enough.'" says the letter. It calls for "sensible gun control measures" and "robust funding of mental health services." Further, it says that "for the sake of our children and young adults,  we reject the overly simplistic belief that increasing armed security personnel in schools will increase student safety."

The letter was signed by the presidents of these colleges and universities: Carlow University, College of St. Mary (Nebraska), Georgian Court University, Gwynedd-Mercy College, Maria College (New York),  Marian Court College, Mercyhurst University, Misericordia University, Mount Aloysius College, Mount Mercy University, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, Saint Xavier University (Illinois), Salve Regina University, Trocaire College, University of Detroit Mercy, University of Saint Joseph (Connecticut) and Mercy College of Health Sciences (Iowa).
 

February 19, 2013

Harvard University's investment arm has created a new position -- vice president for sustainable investing -- which will focus on the environmental, social and corporate governance issues related to Harvard's investments, The Boston Globe reported. While various groups have over the years urged Harvard to refrain from or sell certain kinds of investments, the university has generally focused on obtaining the greatest return. 

February 18, 2013

Amid controversy about one of two finalists’ involvement in military prison systems, the University of Missouri at Columbia has halted its search for a new division executive director in its College of Education.

Dan Clay, college dean, sent out an email last week saying he "decided to not fill the position at this time" after receiving a recommendation from a faculty search committee and "input from other stakeholders,” The Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

The announcement followed a protest and additional community backlash related to retired Col. Larry James’ consideration for the post, after his name surfaced as a strong candidate earlier this month. Opponents cited the former Army psychologist’s work at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as disqualifying for an academic position. James, dean of the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University, wrote about his experiences reforming both prisons’ treatment of detainees as their director of behavioral health in a memoir called Fixing Hell: An Army Psychologist Confronts Abu Ghraib. He maintains that numerous independent investigations have revealed no wrongdoing on his part.

A spokeswoman for Mizzou’s College of Education, told the Tribune it was "really a decision about both candidates," which also included Matthew Burns, a faculty member of the University of Minnesota Department of Educational Psychology. "Neither of the individuals was the right person at this time.”

James did not respond to a request for comment.

 

February 18, 2013

A new report from the American Sociological Association considers whether the discipline should embrace postdoctoral fellowships. Currently, postdocs are not common in sociology, although a few, small postdoc programs are successful. The question for the field, the report suggests, is whether expanding postdoc options could be done while preserving the high quality of the experience of those in the relatively few programs that exist now.

 

February 18, 2013

Morehouse College announced Saturday that President Obama will be its commencement speaker this year, Politico reported. Morehouse's new president, John Silvanus Wilson Jr., was executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities during President Obama's first term. U.S. presidents have in recent years appeared at three commencements a year -- one public institution, one private institutions and a U.S. service academy.

February 18, 2013

Last year -- with strong support from students, professors and alumni -- William Powers Jr.  held on to his job as president of the University of Texas at Austin, fending off a bid to oust him by some members of the University of Texas Board of Regents who are close to Governor Rick Perry. Texas publications are reporting signs that the regents' anti-Powers campaign may be resuming. The Austin American-Statesman reported on unusually tough questioning of Powers by a regents committee last week. Further, the article noted, the terms of three regents who have been supportive of Powers recently ended, and Perry is expected to name new regents soon. The Texas Monthly reported that "regents unfriendly to Powers have reopened a review of the University of Texas Law School Foundation and its practice of granting large, forgivable loans to administrators and faculty at the law school. My source indicated that the regents appear to be trying to find evidence that could be used to discredit Powers, who is a former dean of the law school but was not connected with the problems of the foundation."

 

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