Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 4, 2013

Scholars and others are protesting a forthcoming journal, Porn Studies, from Routledge. "While we agree that pornography and porn culture demand and deserve more critical attention, as a group of academics, activists, anti-violence experts, health professionals, and educators, we are deeply concerned about the journal’s intention and focus and about its editorial board, which is uniformly pro-porn," says a petition signed by hundreds. "Routledge is in a position of authority, and framing the editorial 'experts' on porn as pro-porn under the auspices of neutrality (which is what the journal title does) further fosters the normalization of porn and misrepresents the academic, political and ideological debates about the issue."

Times Higher Education asked editors of the journal about their reaction to the criticism, and the editors responded that they had been "especially pleased to have so many messages from academics welcoming the journal" and "delighted that we have been able to include the foremost scholars in this area on our board, and we are continuing to invite others so that we have a really good spread of academics across disciplines."

June 4, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Dorothy Peteet of Columbia University reveals what the Hudson River has to say about the climate of the past. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

June 4, 2013

Gordon Gee, president of Ohio State University, who has been facing criticism over disparaging remarks he made about Roman Catholics and others, has withdrawn from a planned graduation speech at a Catholic high school, The Columbus Dispatch reported. A university spokeswoman said that “it's a very important, very seminal moment for the young people and so he really wanted to ensure that the appropriate focus was kept on the young people who are graduating and their families."

June 4, 2013

Robert Barchi, president of Rutgers University, is facing considerable criticism for appointing an athletics director who was accused, earlier in her career, of being verbally abusive to athletes she was coaching. Now, The New York Times reported that Barchi appointed a chief of staff this year -- in the midst of the university's athletic scandals -- who was sued by four long-time Rutgers employees for age discrimination. Barchi was aware of the lawsuit when he promoted the chief of staff, Gregory S. Jackson. Rutgers, which was also sued, and Jackson have denied the charges in the suit.

June 4, 2013

The State Board of Higher Education in North Dakota voted Monday to buy out the contract of Hamid Shirvani, the system chancellor, The Bismarck Tribune reported. Shirvani has faced a series of conflicts in the state in which various campus and political officials have questioned his managerial style. He has maintained that he was hired to push a reform agenda, knowing that some would disagree. He said that he respected the board's decision, and that he had asked board members to either issue a strong show of support or to “please just buy out my contract and thank you very much."

June 4, 2013

A pilot partnership between San Jose State University and Udacity, the Silicon Valley-based ed tech company, revealed some hidden costs of online education, The Oakland Tribune reports

"I get this call from San Jose State: 'Uh, we have a problem,'" recalled Mark Ryan, superintendent of a charter school in Oakland that was taking part in the project to offer for-credit online classes to students, including high school students. According to the newspaper, "It turned out some of the low-income teens didn't have computers and high-speed Internet connections at home that the online course required. Many needed personal attention to make it through. The final results aren't in yet, but the experiment exposed some challenges to the promise of a low-cost online education. And it showed there is still a divide between technology-driven educators and the low-income, first-generation college hopefuls they are trying to reach."

Udacity just signed a major deal with the Georgia Institute of Technology to offer a low-cost professional master's degree courses to 10,000 students at once.

June 3, 2013

American Commercial Colleges, a for-profit higher education business in Texas, has agreed to pay the federal government up to $2.5 million to settle claims that it falsely certified that it was in compliance with certain requirements to receive federal student aid. A statement on the settlement from the Justice Department said that American Commercial Colleges had "orchestrated certain short-term private student loans" that the college repaid in order to appear to comply with the "90/10" rule. That rule requires that colleges seeking to participate in federal student aid programs receive at least 10 percent of their revenues from sources other than federal student aid. H. Grady Terrill, a lawyer for American Commercial Colleges, told The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that he anticipated the institutions soon reapplying for authority to operate.

June 3, 2013

Washington University in St. Louis has agreed to stop using cats in medical training, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The university has used cats to teach medical students how to place a tube in an infant's throat. Animal-rights groups have been focusing on Washington University, saying that most other medical schools have replaced the use of cats with mannequins. The former television host Bob Barker, a longtime animal rights advocate, in April said he would pay for the mannequins if the university would stop using cats.

June 3, 2013

Some groups of Roman Catholics regularly criticize Catholic colleges and universities for not being (in the views of these groups) Catholic enough. And plenty of bishops have from time to time criticized certain commencement speakers or campus events. But in what may be a new tactic, William Peter Blatty, best known as author of the novel and film The Exorcist, on Friday filed a complaint against Georgetown University with Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who oversees the archdiocese of Washington. In the complaint, Blatty charges that Georgetown is so insufficiently Catholic that the cardinal should either force changes or force the institution to stop calling itself Catholic. The complaint has not been released, but is 198 pages and 124 "witness statements." The Cardinal Newman Society, which pushes Catholic colleges to closely adhere to what it considers to be Catholic teachings, also supplied a 120-page "dossier" on Georgetown, also not released. In a statement, Blatty said that Georgetown has become a "Potemkin village" of Catholicism.

A spokeswoman for Georgetown said that the institution has not seen the complaint and so can't comment. But Georgetown officials -- when faced with similar criticisms in the past -- have noted that Georgetown has masses every day (up to seven on Sunday) and a wide range of programs that reflect the university's Catholic and Jesuit identity.

June 3, 2013

Ivy Tech Community College -- a well-regarded statewide network in Indiana -- is considering closing up to 20 of its 72 campus locations, The Indianapolis Star reported. The system is facing a $68 million deficit, the result of several years in which enrollment increased substantially without the colleges' receiving per-student appropriations sufficient to keep up with the growth.

 

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