Students in Italy have been staging a series of dramatic protests across Italy -- breaking into the Italian Senate, sitting on railroad tracks, and so forth -- to protest government plans to reform higher education, The New York Times reported. Researchers have joined the protest, sleeping in sleeping bags on the roofs of some universities. The anger is over the lack of funds that has resulted in chronically overcrowded classes, the potential for new cuts, and government plans that critics say will make the problems worse. The government says its plans would provide financial rewards to institutions that perform well.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Facing a $32.1 million debt, Hebrew College will sell its campus, featuring a building by the noted architect Moshe Safdie, The Boston Globe reported. The Massachusetts college offers a range of programs in Jewish education and religion. The college will still need private donations to retire its debt. Officials said that they regretted having to sell the campus, but decided that they needed to take steps to have financial stability. The college -- which has more than 1,400 students -- will lease space from the Andover Newton Theological School.
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.
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.