A new study in Academic Medicine finds that the average tenure of first-time medical deans (excluding those serving on an interim basis) is six years, although it may have dropped slightly in recent years. Generally, the study suggests that the tenure is longer than earlier studies have suggested.
Higher Education Quick Takes
President Obama on Wednesday ordered the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to conduct a review of the rules regarding the protections of human subjects in research -- both studies conducted in the United States and abroad. He noted the recent revalations that the U.S. Public Health Service "conducted research on sexually transmitted diseases in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948 involving the intentional infection of vulnerable human populations. The research was clearly unethical. In light of this revelation, I want to be assured that current rules for research participants protect people from harm or unethical treatment, domestically as well as internationally." Obama's statement said that "[w]hile I believe the research community has made tremendous progress in the area of human subjects protection, what took place in Guatemala is a sobering reminder of past abuses." He asked for a report to be completed within nine months.
More universities are threatening to sue high schools that have similar logos or mascots, The New York Times reported. The article cited moves by Pennsylvania State University against a cougar found to be similar to a Nittany Lion -- even though the offending high school was 1,400 miles away, in Texas. The University of Texas at Austin, meanwhile, went after a Kansas high school whose logo was similar to a Longhorn design.
Just as campus health officials are celebrating their efforts to stop distribution of Four Loko, a new "mixed" product may be gaining ground among students. WFTV News reported that the hot product among students at the University of Central Florida is Whipped Lightning, which boasts that it is the "world's first alcohol-infused whipped cream." As with Four Loko, the concern is that students are especially prone to excessive alcohol use if they aren't completely aware of what they are consuming. Liquor stores near the university are seeing the new whipped cream "fly off the shelves," WFTV reported. One student told the station why: "I think it's awesome, you can throw it on some Jell-O shots. It'd be fantastic."
An animal rights group this month sent David Jentsch, who uses rodents and primates in his neuroscience research, a package with razor blades and a threatening message, the Los Angeles Times reported. UCLA professors have been the targets of repeated threats and acts of vandalism from underground animal rights groups. Jentsch issued a statement vowing to continue his work. "Responsible use of animals in research aimed at improving the health and welfare of the mentally ill is the right thing to do," he said. "We will continue to do so because we have a moral responsibility to society to use our skills for the betterment of the world."
The New Jersey Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that three female faculty members at Seton Hall University may move ahead with their lawsuit charging that they were illegally paid less than younger, male professors, The NJ.com Statehouse Bureau reported. At issue in the Supreme Court case was whether the women could sue over discrimination that they allege predates the statute of limitation (two years) on such litigation. The Supreme Court ruled that if pay they women received within the two years was based on past discriminatory actions, then the more recent pay could be the subject of a lawsuit.
The Faculty Senate at Northeastern Illinois University voted no confidence Tuesday in Sharon Hahs, president of the university, and Lawrence Frank, provost and vice president for academic affairs.The Faculty Senate cited a series of instances involving budget and curricular matters in which it says the views of faculty members were either ignored or not sought. Hahs issued a statement Tuesday saying: “These are very difficult times for Northeastern. Tensions are high as the administration and the University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100, are in the midst of lengthy and difficult contract negotiations.”
Tennessee has halted the enrollment of new students into its prepaid tuition program, after officials determined that the program could no longer be sure of having enough money to meet the obligations to new students, The Commercial Appeal of Memphis reported. The state plans to keep its commitment to students already enrolled in the program. Many prepaid tuition programs have faced difficulties in recent years as they were built on assumptions of healthy investment returns.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is raising concerns about legislation proposed in Congress and passed by legislators (but awaiting the governor's signature) in New Jersey that would require colleges to have policies to bar cyber-bullying, among other forms of harassment. The federal and state proposals are named for Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student who killed himself after images of his encounter with a man were allegedly broadcast. FIRE issued a statement arguing that there are existing laws to punish those who invade students' privacy (as in the Clementi case) or who engage in harassment, and that the new legislation would create "a hopelessly vague standard that will be a disaster for open debate and discourse on campus."
Students at several Texas colleges have started hunger strikes with the aim of convincing Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican, to support the DREAM Act when it comes up for an expected Senate vote next week, The San Antonio News-Express reported. The legislation would create a path to citizenship for many students who came to the United States at young ages with their parents, without legal authorization, and have been educated in the United States. The hunger strike started at the University of Texas at San Antonio and has spread to involve students at UT campuses at Austin, Dallas, Arlington, Brownsville and Edinburg and also at the University of North Texas.