Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 25, 2013

Dolours Price, who was once a key figure in the Irish Republican Army, was found dead in her home Thursday, and her death could change a fight over oral history records held at Boston College, the Associated Press reported. Scholars have been fighting to prevent the papers about the conflict in Northern Ireland from being turned over to British authorities, who have demanded access to the documents, saying that they are needed for criminal investigations. Many scholars have urged courts to block the records' release, saying that pledges to those interviewed -- including Price -- to maintain their confidentiality for set periods of time should not be broken. It is unclear how the death of Price -- which some are suggesting was suicide -- will affect the legal issues of the case, an appeal of which has been filed by researchers with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ed Moloney, who led the collection of the oral history records, and Anthony McIntyre, who conducted the interviews, pledged to continue to fight the release of the papers. "Throughout the last two years of our fight to prevent her interviews being handed over to the police in Belfast, our greatest fear was always for the health and wellbeing of Dolours,’’ Moloney and McIntyre said in a statement. ‘‘Now that she is no longer with us, perhaps those who initiated this legal case can take some time to reflect upon the consequences of their action.’’

 

January 25, 2013

The University of Pittsburgh Press is printing new copies of two collections of poetry by Richard Blanco, the inaugural poet selected by President Obama, and the press is preparing to release a new volume, which will include the inaugural poem, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Orders are coming in fast. The books currently available from Pitt are City of a Hundred Fires and Looking for the Gulf Motel.

 

 

January 25, 2013

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the launch of the 100,000 Strong Foundation, which aims to expand opportunities for American students to learn Mandarin and study abroad in China. The foundation, housed at American University, in Washington, D.C., grows out of a U.S. State Department initiative to increase the number of Americans studying in China to 100,000 over four years. According to the latest numbers available, 14,596 Americans studied in China in 2010-11, representing a 4.9 percent increase from the previous year.

“What we’re trying to do as a foundation is to create a permanent, independent infrastructure around supporting study abroad and the study of Mandarin,” said Carola McGiffert, president of the 100,000 Strong Foundation and formerly a senior adviser to the assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs at the State Department. 

The foundation is being established with $2 million in seed funding -- $1 million each from the Ford and Florence Fang Family Foundations. McGiffert said first steps will include launching a media campaign to promote study in China and raising funds for scholarships.

January 24, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Stefano Allesina of University of Chicago explores the link between an ecosystem’s diversity and its stability. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

January 24, 2013

Texas A&M University announced a major campaign to increase enrollment in engineering, with the goal of enrolling 25,000 students (more than double current levels) by 2025. The effort will involve both recruiting more students, but also looking for ways to improve the educational experience of engineering students.

 

January 24, 2013

The Heritage Hall Museum, in Alabama, has canceled a short of work by Troy University faculty members. The Daily Home reported that some of the art caused offense. "It was supposed to be a group exhibit for Troy University’s communication/fine arts/design program," a museum official said. "There were nine artists that contributed, and the theme was ‘A Sense of Place.’ There was a piece by Ed Noriega that showed cans of Ajax, I guess, that had been relabeled, and had swastikas on the top. There were also some digitally altered images of the Virgin Mary holding a dead chicken in one hand and a broom and dust pan in the other. But the biggest problem was with the swastikas.” The art work with the swastikas was about Alabama's immigration laws, considered "ethnic cleanser" measures by the artist.

 


 
January 24, 2013

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor leading its inquiry into whether it inappropriately handled the federal prosecution of Aaron Swartz has provided some details on the investigation. In an open letter published in The Tech, MIT's student newspaper, Hal Abelson pledged a full and open inquiry, and said that the issues were extremely important. "This matter is urgently serious for MIT," Abelson wrote. "The world respects us not only for our scholarship and our science, but because we are an institution whose actions are and always have been guided by the highest ideals and the most thoughtful judgment. Our commitment to those ideals is now coming into question. At last Saturday’s memorial, Aaron’s partner Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman described his mental state: 'He faced indifference from MIT, an institution that could have protected him with a single public statement and refused to do so, in defiance of all of its own most cherished principles.'"

Abelson also announced the creation of a website on which MIT students and faculty members can suggest questions that the review should consider. The site can be viewed by people without MIT affiliations, but they may not contribute.

 

 

 

January 24, 2013

The University of Illinois System, together with Chicago and state officials, plan to today announce plans for a major technology research lab to be built in Chicago, Crain's Chicago Business reported. The idea is to bring the engineering and technology expertise of the university's flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign to Chicago, and the plan calls for the involvement of other Midwestern universities -- including private institutions and those from other states. “We are in competition with other cities of the world to be a place where great minds want to live. We need to institutionalize that,” said Deputy Mayor Steve Koch, who has been involved in developing the plan.

New York City is supporting the development of a new technology campus by Cornell University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and that effort has attracted considerable attention from leaders of other cities.

 


 
January 24, 2013

Colleges and universities in Utah are preparing for enrollment declines (and tuition revenue declines) following a change in the age at which members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints go on missionary trips, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Some institutions are imposing hiring freezes and stepping up efforts to recruit out-of-state students as a result. Mormon men can now leave on the missionary trips at age 18 (a year earlier than before) and women at 19 (two years earlier). Up until now, many have enrolled for a few semesters of college before leaving on the trips, and those enrollments are now in danger. Higher education officials still hope to recruit those who have completed their missionary travel, but are concerned about losing the transition from high school to college.

 

January 24, 2013

Mills College has settled a disability complaint by federal officials by agreeing to make 368 changes in facilities by 2014, with additional projects to be completed by 2017 and then 2023, the Bay Area News Group reported. Federal officials had identified inaccessible facilities ranging from bathrooms to drinking fountains to parking to lecture halls. When the various commitments are completed, all lecture halls, auditoriums and the gym will be fully wheelchair accessible.

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