Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 3:00am

When the University of Missouri System announced on Thursday that it was shutting down the University of Missouri Press, initial response was muted. Employees of the press did not return calls, and the university said that it could not identify the faculty advisory committee for the press. The university said that it couldn't continue to subsidize the press, which currently receives about $400,000 annually.

Over the holiday weekend, however, opposition started to materialize. A Facebook page -- Save the University of Missouri Press -- appeared Monday. One post there: "As an alumnus of the University of Missouri, I am disappointed and angry to learn that you have decided to close the University of Missouri Press. Where are your priorities? What has happened to the school’s standing as the state’s flagship university? Is the institution to be known more and more only for its athletic programs? Will Truman State become known as Missouri’s university most interested in academics?" (Truman State has a university press.)

Letters to the editor are also appearing in local publications, questioning why a $400,000 subsidy would be out of the question at a university that pays its head football coach $2.7 million.

 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 4:23am

In many states in recent years, summer enrollments have gone way up at public institutions, as students who struggle to get into sections during the regular academic year take advantage of greater availability in the summer. But in California, higher education budgets are so tight that many community colleges have cut way back on summer programs -- despite student demand, The Los Angeles Times reported. Eight community college campuses plan no summer courses this year, and the community college system's summer enrollment was down 43 percent from 2008 to 2011. A survey by Santa Monica College found that, at 15 community colleges in the Los Angeles area, only one-third of the courses offered in 2008 are going to be offered this year, representing a loss of 6,000 teaching assignments and 168,000 classroom seats.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 3:00am

Graham Spanier, former president of Pennsylvania State University, on Friday sued the university to demand access to e-mail records from 1998 to 2004, The Patriot-News reported. The records were thought to have been destroyed when the university switched e-mail systems, but the e-mail files recently have been recovered. Spanier's suit says that he didn't have access to the files when he testified before a grand jury looking into alleged molestation of boys by Jerry Sandusky, a former football coach. Much of the molestation allegedly took place on Penn State's campus, and the issue of what senior administrators knew has become a major issue in the case against Sandusky and (potentially) other cases. Spanier's suit says he cannot meet with independent investigators looking into the case without access to the old e-mail messages, but Penn State says that it has been informed by a state assistant attorney general that it should not turn over the records.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 3:00am

The State Department on Friday issued revised visa guidance on visa rules for those who work at Confucius Institutes, which are supported by the Chinese government and operate at many campuses in the United States. The new guidance essentially reversed earlier guidance that would have been very difficult for many of the centers. For instance, the earlier guidance said that the Confucius Institutes would need separate accreditation if their offerings weren't part of the language offerings of the universities at which they are located. The new guidance says that the university's overall accreditation is sufficient. Generally, institutes whose employees were receiving visas prior to now should be fine.

 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 3:00am

Adjuncts at Kalamazoo Valley Community College have voted, 162 to 38, to unionize, The Kalamazoo Gazette reported. The new union will be affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. Catherine Barnard, a part-time psychology instructor for 15 years, explained the union push this way: "Years of service and dedication to our students should be rewarded. We have earned the right to fair compensation, academic freedom, and timely semester appointments. Our level of education, professionalism, and commitment to our students is equivalent to that of the full-time tenured faculty."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 3:00am

University of Chicago officials are condemning recent events at which fraternities planned activities that were disparaging of Latinos and women, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. In one case, a fraternity had pledges wear sombreros and mow the house lawn while Latin music played. Another fraternity announced a party with the theme "Conquistadors and Aztec Hoes."

 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Brick Johnstone of the University of Missouri explains efforts to pinpoint the location of the religious experience through brain imaging. In Monday's Academic Minute, Bridget Chesterton of the State University of New York College at Buffalo discussed the common experience of European immigration to the Americas. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Michigan is seeking to join a federal suit challenging a new Michigan law that bars graduate research assistants from unionizing, The Detroit Free Press reported. The move to join the suit is somewhat unusual in that Michigan's senior administrators have spoken out against the unionization of research assistants during a recent organizing drive at the university. The administrators maintain that the graduate students who work as research assistants should be seen as students, not employees. And that was the same rationale cited by Republican legislators who pushed the new law. But the University of Michigan Board of Regents is controlled by Democrats, who back union rights for the graduate students, and who opted to have the university join the suit.

 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 3:00am

A new website called Not in My Country has been created to allow for reports of corruption, harassment or incompetence at universities in Uganda, The Wall Street Journal reported. The idea behind the website -- which also includes faculty ratings similar to RateMyProfessor.com in the United States -- is that a system for anonymous reporting is badly needed for higher education in the country.

 

Friday, May 25, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Missouri System announced Thursday that the University of Missouri Press will be phased out during the fiscal 2013 year. Officials cited the difficulty of providing financial support for the press, which currently receives a $400,000 annual subsidy. A spokeswoman said that the university was studying its contracts with authors whose books have been signed by the press, but whose works have not yet been published. In recent years, the press has attempted to cuts costs through a variety of measures (including layoffs) but savings were not sufficient, the university statement said. Numerous staff members at the press did not respond to calls seeking comment. Several presses have closed or suspended operations in recent years.

 

 

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