Yale University has rejected a call from the Middle East Studies Association for an independent inquiry into the university's decision not to offer a faculty position in 2006 to Juan Cole, a scholar at the University of Michigan who has a wide following for his blog, which is highly critical of U.S. foreign policy. The association called for such an investigation because of recent reports that the Bush administration was trying to undercut Cole's reputation at about the same time that Yale was considering and rejecting him for a position. A letter from Peter Salovey, provost at Yale, to the association, said: "I can assure you in the strongest possible terms that no member of the Bush Administration nor any other government official contacted the president, provost, or two deans involved in overseeing the appointments process in the case of Professor Cole, nor is there any evidence of inappropriate external interference or other impropriety in this appointment matter. We see no reason to compromise the confidentiality of a faculty deliberation on the merits of an appointment by constituting an external faculty committee to conduct an investigation."
Higher Education Quick Takes
California Governor Jerry Brown filed a brief Friday backing a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate the state's referendum banning the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions by the state's public colleges and universities, The Los Angeles Times reported. A federal appeals court recently ruled in a similar case that a Michigan referendum unconstitutionally took away the rights of minority citizens to influence admissions policy. While that decision is being appealed, advocates of affirmative action are hoping for a similar win over California's referendum.
The National Science Foundation and the Agency for International Development on Thursday announced a new effort to promote research to promote global development. Projects will be selected through peer review, and the National Academy of Sciences will administer the program.
MDRC, the research organization, this week released "Unlocking the Gate," a literature review on what is known about remedial education and how to improve its chances of success. The report focuses on four strategies: helping students avoid developmental education by preparing for college-level work before college; changes that shorten the length of time needed in remedial education; programs that mix basic skills and job training or college-level content; and programs that improve the advising or tutoring that remedial students receive.
A House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee on Thursday backed legislation that would provide $20 million less to the National Endowment for the Humanities in the 2012 fiscal year than the agency is receiving this year. The measure would allocate $135 million to the NEH, which would represent a reduction of 13 percent -- nearly double what the House panel proposed to cut from the Interior Department and other agencies covered the spending legislation. In an e-mail alert Thursday urging advocates for the humanities to oppose the measure, the National Humanities Alliance said that "these disproportionate cuts would compromise the agency’s ability to fulfill its mission." The National Endowment for the Arts would also receive $135 million under the subcommittee's bill, which the full Appropriations Committee is expected to take up next Tuesday.
Amid numerous proposed cuts to language programs in higher education, the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association has issued a statement calling for colleges to provide students with the chance to become fluent in a second language. "[D]espite student demand for language courses and public recognition of the opportunities of globalization, many college language programs have been reduced, closed, or threatened with closure," the statement says. "These actions deny students critical learning opportunities and impoverish their education. Preventing students from participating in college-level language learning does them a profound disservice, diminishes our cultural capacities, and isolates the American public from the conversations of the rest of the world."
One paper involving a Harvard biologist has been retracted, and another has been withdrawn, The Boston Globe reported. The retracted paper appeared in the journal Blood, and the withdrawn paper appeared in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.
A new report by the Sutton Trust has added to concerns about inequities in Britain's elite universities, Times Higher Education reported. In the period of 2007-9, five schools accounted for 5 percent of all students admitted to the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford. That's the same share of the Cambridge and Oxford populations produced -- in total -- by 2,000 other high schools. The report notes that students at some high schools do much better on tests than do students at other high schools. But the analysis suggests that more than test scores are at play. For instance, the research found two schools with nearly identical scores by students on the national tests of academic performance. One school sent 65 percent of students to Britain's 30 top universities, while the other sent 28 percent.
Evidence that Twitter-mania is taking hold, for better or worse, in higher education: The University of Iowa's business school is offering a one-year scholarship to the applicant for its M.B.A. program who, in the 140 characters allowed by Twitter, most successfully answers the question, "What makes you an exceptional Tippie MBA candidate and full-time MBA hire? Creativity encouraged!" According to an article in the Iowa City Press-Citizen, the innovation is designed to acknowledge the power of social media in business communication, and applicants can answer this way in lieu of the standard application essay, and one winner will get a one-year scholarship to the program at the Tippie School of Management, valued at $37,000.
"This would give us a lot more depth and show us more about a candidate than an essay would show," Jodi Schafer, director of recruiting and admissions for the school's full-time M.B.A. program, told the Press-Citizen. "We wanted to learn more about our applicants, wanted to get more than we could through a typical application. It's a better way to showcase a candidate's talent." Lest one worry that Iowa officials had not noticed that the standard tweet does not provide enough room for a whole lot of "depth," a news release about the contest notes: "You can go beyond the typical Tweet by connecting your Tweet to other social media such as blogs, video, Facebook, or a web page."