Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 11, 2012

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Tuesday rejected a harassment lawsuit against Southern Illinois University by a student who complained of inappropriate remarks and actions by an emeritus professor. While the court found that the actions by the emeritus professor, if accurately described, were "despicable," the university "responded reasonably" to the complaints, and could not be found liable as a result.

 

July 11, 2012

Hundreds of Canadian scientists staged an unusual protest Tuesday, wearing their lab coats to Parliament, where they rallied against government policies that they said were leading to the "death of evidence," The Globe and Mail reported. They criticized a number of policies of Canada's conservative government, including the elimination of funds for a research station that has collected data relevant to climate change, and what the scientists said was the government's policy of favoring job creation over environmental research.

July 11, 2012

The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents has reprimanded President Susan Martin for a drunken argument she had with an alumnus at an event in Washington, AnnArbor.com reported. "We have become aware of a recent incident in Washington, D.C. in which you conducted yourself in a way that was inappropriate for your position and reflected poorly on the university," a letter from the board says. "The incident involved the consumption of alcohol." The letter also said that board members were concerned about Martin's "misuse of alcohol" and "concerned about you as a person." The board letter noted that Martin's alcohol consumption could damage the reputation of the university, and create liability issues. Martin sent a campuswide e-mail in which she apologized for the incident. She also disclosed a DWI she received in 2005 (of which she said board members had been aware).

July 10, 2012

Adjunct instructors are getting some help (rhetorically, at least) from the country’s largest education union. The National Education Association’s Representative Assembly voted overwhelmingly last week to ask the Department of Labor to help cut "them"adjuncts get unemployment benefits. The union will ask the department to issue an advisory letter saying that adjuncts lack “reasonable assurance” of work, and are eligible to collect unemployment benefits when out of work.

Maria Maisto, president of the New Faculty Majority, said that adjuncts struggle to get unemployment benefits during the summer months when they are not teaching, and that universities often contest their claims by saying they have a chance of getting rehired. Even if the letter is issued, though, it would be non-binding. “But it is something that individual adjuncts can use as they are making their claim,” Maisto said.

July 10, 2012

A year after the British government essentially tripled tuitions, applications for university spots fell by nearly 9 percent in Britain and by 10 percent in England, Times Higher Education reported. Applications from students of traditional college age fell less sharply than did those from older students, and government officials played down the impact of the dip; “the proportion of English school-leavers applying to university is the second highest on record and people are still applying,” David Willetts, the universities and science minister, told the newspaper. But others said the decrease was the predictable result of the dramatic change in government policy.

July 10, 2012

Pennsylvania State University fund-raisers took in $208 million in the 2011-12 academic year, the second-most in institutional history, despite spending much of the year wracked in intense controversy related to child sexual abuse charges against a longtime football coach, the Centre Daily Times reported. But pledges and other measures of long-term giving were down, the newspaper reported.

July 10, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Cynthia Ebinger of the University of Rochester explains the connection between earthquakes, volcanism, and the changing thickness of the Earth’s tectonic plates. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

July 9, 2012

The parent company of competency-based New Charter University is today announcing that it has bought Patten University, a regionally accredited nonprofit institution in California. UniversityNow, Inc., which introduced New Charter as a low-cost higher education provider that awards credit for what students prove they know and can do, said in a news release that its purchase of Patten would allow it to offer four-year degrees for roughly $10,000. Patten has hired Janet Holmgren, the longtime president of Mills College, also in Oakland, as its president.

July 9, 2012

Bridgepoint Education announced today that the senior college commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges had denied its bid for initial accreditation for Ashford University, the for-profit company's highest-profile institution. Ashford remains accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, but it had sought accreditation in the West -- where Bridgepoint is headquartered -- in part because of the Higher Learning Commission's increasingly chilly treatment of for-profit institutions.

Bridgepoint said that Ashford would both appeal the Western accreditor's decision and reapply for initial accreditation.

WASC's review of Ashford, which the accreditor is due to release later today, had been highly watched, especially because Congressional critics of the for-profit sector had sought to make fast-growing Ashford a poster child for how -- in their eyes -- some institutions have manipulated the accreditation system.

Details of why the Western accreditor denied Ashford's accreditation will be available later today. Follow Inside Higher Ed for continuing coverage.

 

July 9, 2012

President Obama and many educators are encouraging more American students to earn advanced degrees in science, but the jobs may not be there for those who do so, The Washington Post reported. There are fewer jobs in academe, but also in many of the business fields that have in the past hired science Ph.D.s. Many companies have slashed research jobs, the Post noted.

 

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