Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, February 25, 2011 - 3:00am

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican, is trying to end the newly gained right of faculty members at the University of Wisconsin System to unionize. But faculty members at the university's La Crosse campus voted this week to unionize, following similar votes by professors at the Eau Claire and Superior campuses. Faculty members at the campuses have voted to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers, which also has organizing drives going elsewhere in the system. Union organizers said that the governor's push to end collective bargaining rights has made made faculty members more committed to the union. At La Crosse, the vote for collective bargaining was 249 to 37.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, and South Carolina's public college presidents have agreed on the factors that should go into a new funding formula for higher education, The Greenville News reported. Among the factors: graduation rates, the percentage of in-state students, roles in economic development, job placement and the enrollment of "underrepresented" students. The governor and the presidents still haven't defined "underrepresented" or the relative weight the factors would receive in the formula.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

An Australian group has created UniLeaks, a WikiLeaks-styled website where people may leak documents about higher education. An explanation on the website states that it will accept and distribute "restricted or censored material of political, ethical, diplomatic or historical significance which is in some way connected to higher education, an agency or government body working in partnership with an institution, e.g., a university." The site adds, "We absolutely do not accept rumor, opinion, other kinds of first-hand accounts or material that is publicly available elsewhere."

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

Duke University and an insurance company (an affiliate of AIG) have settled a lawsuit over costs related to the lacrosse scandal, The News & Observer reported. Details of the settlement were not released, but the dispute between Duke and the company focused in part on confidential settlements the university reached with some lacrosse players and questions of whether the company had enough information to reimburse Duke.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

For-profit college fever is spreading in the U.S. Senate. Yet another committee (the third, by our count) plans to hold a hearing examining possible malfeasance by higher education companies, with Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) announcing a March 2 hearing of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security, which he chairs. Carper said the hearing would examine the flow of money from the Defense Department's Tuition Assistance Program to current service members enrolled at for-profit colleges, and allegations in recent news reports that, as he put it, "some bad actors have taken advantage of our military personnel and have failed to deliver the quality of education they promise to our men and women in uniform." Unlike most of the Senate hearings about for-profit colleges in the last 18 months, this one will not occur in the hotbed of career college scrutiny: Senator Tom Harkin's Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. But Harkin will still play a role: the Iowa Democrat is scheduled to be a star witness.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

The American College Health Association reinforced the importance of constantly developing cultural awareness and sensitivity among campus professionals, with the goal of having members be “responsive to the needs of a diverse and changing student population,” in a statement released Wednesday.

The Cultural Competency Statement -- in its first revision since its initial publication in July 2000 -- compels ACHA members to cultural inclusion, cultural respect, equality and equity, and includes a number of criteria that demonstrate cultural competency for individuals, institutions and the association. Vanessa Britto, chair of the revision task force, told Inside Higher Ed that given the shifts in student demographics, international enrollment and experiential learning, the ACHA felt it was time to update and clarify the statement. “It’s just a much, much more diverse and complex world that we live in,” she said. “You can’t have [the statement] be static; it has to be dynamic.” So the task force cleaned up the document, clarifying actions and definitions, removing outdated items and adding ones that arose during the last decade.

It states that culturally competent individuals “have a mixture of beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, experience, and skills that help them to establish trust and rapport in effective communication with others.” ACHA member institutions, the statement says, “should commit to the cultural competency of campus health professionals by implementing, strengthening, and supporting a variety of activities” that promote diversity and inclusivity throughout the campus. Finally, the association charges itself with promoting cultural competency through programming, individual leadership, advocacy and collaboration with other organizations.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Columbia University's Randi Epstein analyzes the most sought-after traits for sperm donors. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

Despite taking legal action, Reed College has been unable to remove the website for the “University of Redwood,” an institution that is not known to officially exist and whose website features content that appears to be taken from Reed’s. (Reed jokingly calls the site “Reedwood”). Compare this page with this page, or this page with this page to see the similarities. Reed says it has filed complaints with the Attorneys General of Arizona and California, home to the website's internet provider and to its mail-forwarding company, respectively.

Reed was successful in removing the website for 10 days last year after its lawyers sent Go Daddy, the website’s domain host, a cease and desist letter; however, 10 days after the website’s removal, Go Daddy restored it. Go Daddy says it was acting in good faith and in accordance with the law. "In November, Go Daddy was notified of alleged copyright infringement on specific URLs within the site in question," said Ben Butler, director of network abuse for Go Daddy. "In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and our internal procedures, we disabled the website. After receiving proper notice that the allegedly infringing material was removed, Go Daddy re-enabled the site, and we have not received any further communication or infringement notification from the original complainant."

Kevin Myers, a Reed spokesman, said his understanding is that Reed's lawyers had approached Go Daddy a second time. He says Reed will contact Go Daddy again. "It’s good to know what the next step is," said Myers. "Being taken down should mean being taken down forever."

The Redwood website lists one contact, a box number at Shipito, a mail-forwarding company. Shipito suspended the Redwood account in the fall after receiving a complaint from Reed and has not forwarded any mail to the the entity since. Shipito says the account was opened by someone in China with a Western name. Reed, for its part, is still vigilant. “Who knows what the scam really is?” said Myers. “We’re continuing to try to track them down,”

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Association of University Professors announced Wednesday that it will likely investigate the recent decision by the Idaho Board of Education to suspend the Faculty Senate at Idaho State University. The suspension followed a vote of no confidence in the university's president, Arthur C. Vailas, who is backed by the board.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

A bill that would have barred public colleges in Utah from awarding tenure to professors beginning in July died in a legislative committee Wednesday, the Deseret News reported. College administrators in the state opposed the legislation, which its sponsor said was needed because tenure locked the state into long-term liabilities that it could not afford in economically difficult times.

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