Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, February 25, 2011 - 3:00am

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican, is trying to end the newly gained right of faculty members at the University of Wisconsin System to unionize. But faculty members at the university's La Crosse campus voted this week to unionize, following similar votes by professors at the Eau Claire and Superior campuses. Faculty members at the campuses have voted to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers, which also has organizing drives going elsewhere in the system. Union organizers said that the governor's push to end collective bargaining rights has made made faculty members more committed to the union. At La Crosse, the vote for collective bargaining was 249 to 37.

Friday, February 25, 2011 - 3:00am

Nearly 2,000 applicants to Virginia's Christopher Newport University are the unlucky ones this year: recipients of an e-mail telling them they had been accepted when they actually had not (at least not yet), The Daily Press of Newport News reported. The e-mails, which went out Wednesday bearing the subject line "Welcome to CNU!," were intended to encourage students who had already received paper acceptances to attend orientation. But because of an error, the notices went to a group of presumably anxious students who are awaiting word from Christopher Newport, and will not get their answers until March 15, the newspaper reported. "We understand that for some students this is a highly emotional time, and we would like to express our regret for any additional anxiety this may have caused," Maury O'Connell, vice president for student services, said in a followup e-mail that went out Wednesday, four hours after the originals.

Friday, February 25, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Education Department has vowed to revamp a program designed to forgive the student loan debt of disabled borrowers after an investigation by the nonprofit journalism entity ProPublica found significant abuse in the program. ProPublica, which conducted the investigation with the Center for Public Integrity, reported Thursday that the Education Department had committed to making a series of changes aimed at improving responsiveness to borrowers, among other things.

Friday, February 25, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Duke University's Priscilla Wald examines what the majority of journalists do wrong when reporting on pandemics. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, February 25, 2011 - 3:00am

A Louisiana judge has refused to block a study for the Louisiana Board of Regents on the idea of merging Southern University of New Orleans and the University of New Orleans, The Advocate reported. Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, has called for consideration of the merger -- an idea strongly opposed by advocates of the historically black Southern system. Some of those supporters charge that the lack of diversity on the Board of Regents makes the body unconstitutional -- an argument rejected by the judge.

Friday, February 25, 2011 - 3:00am

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that state immunity bars a national pharmacy association from suing the University System of Georgia for copyright violations. The ruling, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, came in a long-running legal fight in which the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy is seeking redress for the alleged misappropriation by a University of Georgia professor of material from the association's licensing examinations. While legal claims against the professor are still pending, the 11th Circuit panel concluded that the Board of Regents of the university system is immune from suit.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

Despite taking legal action, Reed College has been unable to remove the website for the “University of Redwood,” an institution that is not known to officially exist and whose website features content that appears to be taken from Reed’s. (Reed jokingly calls the site “Reedwood”). Compare this page with this page, or this page with this page to see the similarities. Reed says it has filed complaints with the Attorneys General of Arizona and California, home to the website's internet provider and to its mail-forwarding company, respectively.

Reed was successful in removing the website for 10 days last year after its lawyers sent Go Daddy, the website’s domain host, a cease and desist letter; however, 10 days after the website’s removal, Go Daddy restored it. Go Daddy says it was acting in good faith and in accordance with the law. "In November, Go Daddy was notified of alleged copyright infringement on specific URLs within the site in question," said Ben Butler, director of network abuse for Go Daddy. "In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and our internal procedures, we disabled the website. After receiving proper notice that the allegedly infringing material was removed, Go Daddy re-enabled the site, and we have not received any further communication or infringement notification from the original complainant."

Kevin Myers, a Reed spokesman, said his understanding is that Reed's lawyers had approached Go Daddy a second time. He says Reed will contact Go Daddy again. "It’s good to know what the next step is," said Myers. "Being taken down should mean being taken down forever."

The Redwood website lists one contact, a box number at Shipito, a mail-forwarding company. Shipito suspended the Redwood account in the fall after receiving a complaint from Reed and has not forwarded any mail to the the entity since. Shipito says the account was opened by someone in China with a Western name. Reed, for its part, is still vigilant. “Who knows what the scam really is?” said Myers. “We’re continuing to try to track them down,”

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Association of University Professors announced Wednesday that it will likely investigate the recent decision by the Idaho Board of Education to suspend the Faculty Senate at Idaho State University. The suspension followed a vote of no confidence in the university's president, Arthur C. Vailas, who is backed by the board.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

A bill that would have barred public colleges in Utah from awarding tenure to professors beginning in July died in a legislative committee Wednesday, the Deseret News reported. College administrators in the state opposed the legislation, which its sponsor said was needed because tenure locked the state into long-term liabilities that it could not afford in economically difficult times.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, and South Carolina's public college presidents have agreed on the factors that should go into a new funding formula for higher education, The Greenville News reported. Among the factors: graduation rates, the percentage of in-state students, roles in economic development, job placement and the enrollment of "underrepresented" students. The governor and the presidents still haven't defined "underrepresented" or the relative weight the factors would receive in the formula.

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