A feature in The Los Angeles Times explores the role of the humanities and social sciences at the California Institute of Technology, which this year will see only one person graduate with a major in the humanities and social sciences who does not also have a major in the sciences. While it is rare to major in the humanities, many humanities courses are popular and Caltech requires students to take the equivalent of a humanities or social sciences course each semester. Warren Brown, who teaches medieval history, said: "These kids are going to become scientists, engineers and mathematicians, and they are going to move out into a world that often doesn't understand what they do, doesn't understand why it is important or tries to manipulate what they do for financial or political reasons.... These kids have to know they are moving out into a human society and have to understand how human society works."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Officials with the central office of the California Community Colleges have told San Francisco City College to stop paying trustees their $500 per meeting stipend when the trustees don't show up, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The college has long paid the trustees -- regardless of whether they attend or are on vacation or are otherwise unavailable, and many trustees miss meetings. The state office says the college may be violating state law, but the college says it is within its rights and that it plans to continue the practice.
Many Greeks are furious with Germany over its stance on the economic crisis in Greece, but Greek students are flocking to German language courses, The Times of London reported. Students are studying at German programs in Greece or traveling to German-speaking countries to learn the language, hoping to stay and find a good job. "I think the situation in Germany and the way they live is of high quality," said Elena Mavromatti, a law student at the University of Athens, who is taking advanced night-classes at the Germanika language school.
Statements and rumors of all kinds are flying over the decision of the University of Virginia board to oust Teresa Sullivan as president. The decision, announced Sunday, stunned faculty leaders and many others who thought Sullivan was off to a strong start in her nearly two years in office:
- The Council of Chairs and Directors released a letter blasting the way events have transpired. The letter said that these academic leaders were "very pleased" with Sullivan's "superb" leadership, and that they were stunned by her ouster, and frustrated by the lack of faculty knowledge of the reasons behind the board's action. The letter called for "a full airing" of the issues.
- A petition is gathering support calling for the board to reverse itself and to keep Sullivan.
- Helen Dragas, the rector (board chair) released a letter to the faculty in which she said that "the Board of Visitors understands the serious concern and anxiety raised by the announcement of President Sullivan’s agreement to step down. We comprehend how deeply the entire University family feels a sense of loss and distress at what appeared to be an abrupt turn of events." However, citing confidentiality requirements, Dragas said she could not detail the issues that divided Sullivan and the board. She did, however, say that "there was ongoing dialogue with the President over an extended period of time, regarding matters for which we are responsible. These include ensuring the long-term health and well-being of the University through development of a credible statement of strategic direction and a long-term resource plan."
Career Education Corporation is responding to a new inquiry from a national accreditor related to job placement rates, according to a corporate filing by the company. The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges has asked the company, which owns 90 for-profit college campuses, to "show cause" for why accreditation should not be withdrawn from 10 of its institutions. The inquiry stems from the company's earlier acknowledgment that it lacked sufficient documentation for some job placement data. That revelation led to a similar inquiry by another national accreditor -- the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools -- which later cleared the company.
Slate published an analysis of the relative popularity (as topics to academics) of various pop culture topics. Judging popularity by the total papers, books and essays produced by academics, the most popular topic (by far) is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," followed by "Alien Quadrilogy," and "The Wire." Far behind is "The Simpsons."
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the University of Cincinnati's limits on protests or political activity outside a "free speech zone" are too restrictive, Cincinnati.com reported. "It is simply unfathomable that a UC student needs to give the university advance notice of an intent to gather signatures for a ballot initiative,” the judge wrote. “There is no danger to public order arising out of students walking around campus with clipboards seeking signatures.” The ruling barred the university from using its existing policy, but permitted the university to propose new rules.