Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, J. Michael Rhodes of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst discusses the benefits of geothermal power and why it isn’t just for Western states. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 3:00am

A state audit has blasted the management of a transportation research center -- completion of which was to have cost tens of millions of dollars -- at South Carolina State University, The Post and Courier reported. The project is currently $83 million short of funds and has no plans for obtaining them. University officials said that the report provided them with some vindication by disputing earlier reports of up to $50 million in missing funds. The audit accounted for the funds, and said that they had been poorly spent. In one example, the project paid $40,000 for real estate costs for property the university didn't buy. In another case, the university billed and received reimbursement for $200,000 from two federal agencies for the same expense.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 3:00am

David Flory, a physics professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, is in custody in New Mexico, where he has a vacation home. Flory is charged with running a website that arranged prostitution for 200 women and more than 1,200 of their customers, The Bergen Record reported. A university spokeswoman said that the institution was "saddened" by the news and had been cooperating with law enforcement. She declined to comment on Flory's job status. A police official said that Flory said he did not make money from the site, but maintained it as a hobby.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 3:00am

Yale University, which recently announced that it is phasing out an institute to study anti-Semitism, is creating a new institute to study the same subject. The soon-to-be-gone center received an unfavorable review from a faculty committee, but some in the pro-Israel blogosphere have suggested that its elimination resulted from its willingness to talk about Muslim anti-Semitism in ways that made some uncomfortable. Others, however, including experts in anti-Semitism, have raised questions about whether the original center mixed advocacy with scholarship in a way that may have been inappropriate. The news that Yale is creating a new center (under direct control of faculty members, unlike the original center) was praised by the Anti-Defamation League, which had criticized the decision to eliminate the first center.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 3:00am

California legislators have affirmed in drafts of the state budget that the University of California may not spend state funds on athletics. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the move followed a request by the university to ease a previous ban. University officials said that they made the request for bookkeeping reasons, and not out of any desire to spend state funds on athletics. But after Brian Barsky, a computer science professor at the Berkeley campus, noticed and criticized the request, lawmakers explicitly banned any state spending on athletics.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 3:00am

The Nassau Community College Academic Senate voted last week to declare its lack of confidence in President Donald P. Astrab. The move followed a decision by the college's trustees to renew Astrab's contract despite faculty objections. Kimberley Reiser, chair of the Academic Senate, said in a statement: "Many of the faculty expressed concern that the president used the current budget crisis as an excuse to impose an autocratic management style, disregard faculty advice in areas of their expertise, seek to diminish academic standards, create a new management structure that was inconsistent and non-communicative, and effect an illusion of consultation."

The college issued statements from the board defending the renewal of the president's contract, and from Astrab. His statement said: "Recognizing the fiscal challenges ahead of us, one of the first things I did upon becoming president was to establish budget task forces that included membership from every campus constituency in order to engage them in the process and solicit their ideas. Since then, my days and weeks at the college have been filled with continuous meetings with the various component parts of the 'academic side of the house.' State law envisions faculty input, and I respect that. But it also makes clear that it is the college’s Board of Trustees that establishes college policy."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, George Washington University's Merve Kavakci explores the conflict between Turkey’s desire to westernize and the government’s treatment of women wearing traditional headscarves. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 3:00am

First-year enrollment in M.D. programs is projected to increase 2 percent this year, according to a report by the American Association of Medical Colleges, which said that medical schools are currently on track to increase first-year enrollments by 27.6 percent beyond 2002 levels by 2015. The association had set a goal of a 30 percent increase by that time. Despite the progress, the AAMC noted that a growing number of medical colleges are reporting concerns about their ability to continue enrollment increases in light of tight budgets.

Osteopathic medical schools are projecting 5,716 first-year matriculants in fall 2011, up 8.5 percent, according to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 3:00am

The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has refused, 9 to 7, to consider an appeal of a decision by a three-judge panel of the court to uphold the consideration of race in admissions decisions by the University of Texas. The panel's ruling, in January, rejected an argument that the state had shown it could use the "10 percent plan" -- in which all students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school classes are admitted -- to promote diversity without the consideration of race. The decision cited various flaws in the plan, and types of diversity that may not be produced by it.

As is the norm, the judges who voted not to reconsider the case did not issue any statement on their thinking. Five of the judges who would have heard the case issued a dissent expressing strong doubts about the panel's decision. These judges said that the three-judge panel had adopted "a new 'serious good faith consideration' standard of review, watering down" the Supreme Court's requirement for consideration of race only with "strict narrow tailoring. Second, it authorizes the university’s race-conscious admissions program although a race-neutral state law (the Top Ten Percent Law) had already fostered increased campus racial diversity. Finally, the panel appears to countenance an unachievable and unrealistic goal of racial diversity at the classroom level to support the university’s race-conscious policy,"

The plaintiffs who challenged the University of Texas policies still have the option of appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Monday, June 20, 2011 - 3:00am

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents on Friday approved a continuation of Salisbury University's policy -- first adopted five years ago as a pilot -- of letting students who graduate from high school with a 3.5 or higher grade point average opt out of submitting an SAT or ACT score. A study done by the university found that students who enrolled without submitting test scores outperformed those who submitted them in course completion and graduation rates, while the two groups were similar in grade-point averages at the university.


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