Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, May 14, 2012 - 4:29am

Nakba, the Arabic word for "catastrophe," is the name given by Palestinians to the day Israelis mark their anniversary as a nation. Tel Aviv University, resisting pressure from government officials and others, is permitting a student group to have a "Nakba Day" event today, The Jerusalem Post reported. Critics say that universities, as they are supported by the Israeli government, should not associate with activities many see as questioning the right of the Israeli state to exist, and Israeli law bars the use of public funds for such activities. The education minister called university officials to lobby them to cancel the event. University officials said that they were complying with the law by requiring the student organizers to pay for the event and associated security costs.

Students who set up the event said that free speech should include important discussions of the Palestinian perspective. Dan Walfisch, a history and philosophy major and an organizer of the ceremony, said of the event: "It will not include rejection of Israel’s right to exist. Our goal is only to recognize the suffering of the Palestinian people because we see mutual recognition as a condition of having a shared existence in Israel.”

 

Monday, May 14, 2012 - 3:00am

A crash in New Zealand killed three Boston University students early Saturday and injured five others. The students were on a weekend trip to the countryside when the van in which they were traveling swerved off the road and crashed. Boston University has a study abroad program in Auckland, in which the students were participating (except for one of the injured students, who was participating in a BU program in Australia). Boston University has added extra counseling services for students on its main campus. Two New Zealand universities with which the BU program there is affiliated -- University of Auckland and the Auckland University of Technology -- have extended their counseling services to BU students who are studying abroad in the country.

 

Monday, May 14, 2012 - 3:00am

Romania's prime minister, Victor Ponta, has ordered an investigation into whether Ioan Mang, the new education minister, has plagiarized, AFP reported. The inquiry will be conducted by the Romanian Academy, and follows complaints from researchers in Israel, Japan and Taiwan that Mang's work included their own work on information technology.

 

Monday, May 14, 2012 - 3:00am

Victoria Reggie Kennedy, a lawyer, activist and the widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, will speak at a commencement ceremony of a Roman Catholic college this graduation season after all. Anna Maria College rescinded an investigation to Kennedy when a local bishop objected to her appearance because she favors legal access to abortion and birth control. But Boston College's law school has announced that it has invited Kennedy to speak at its commencement, the Associated Press reported. Vincent Rougeau, dean of the law school, said Kennedy has been a "powerful advocate for the powerless" on issues such as education and gun control.

 

Monday, May 14, 2012 - 3:00am

Legislation enacted in California in 2010 was supposed to assure smooth transfer from community colleges to California State University campuses, both by requiring the community colleges to create more transfer programs and the university system to make students who complete certain requirements automatically eligible for junior status. A new report by the Legislative Analyst's Office has found progress -- but only partial progress -- in meeting the goals. The community colleges are urged to create more transfer programs, and the Cal State system is urged to maximize the number of degree programs to which these transfer credits can provide junior-level status.

 

Monday, May 14, 2012 - 3:00am

The Indian Cabinet on Thursday cleared two key pieces of higher education legislation that now can move forward for Parliamentary review, The Times of India reported. One bill would require accreditation for all higher education institutions. The other bill would set a process for designating some universities as research excellence hubs.

Friday, May 11, 2012 - 4:35am

The University of Southern California is planning to award degrees this year to nine Japanese-Americans who were students there during World War II and who were forced to end their studies when they were sent to internment camps, The Los Angeles Times reported. While many praise the move -- already undertaken by other colleges whose students from Japanese families were forced out during that time -- some say USC is not doing enough. Posthumous degrees are not being awarded to those who have died, for example. USC says that its polices would bar such degrees.

 

Friday, May 11, 2012 - 3:00am

The Korea Foundation is planning a significant expansion of programs designed to promote Korean studies in countries other than Korea, The Korea Herald reported. The Global E-School Program, which sets up centers at universities that mix locally based programs with real-life instruction from professors in South Korea, is one of the programs slated for expansion. The foundation currently supports 19 university centers in 12 countries. The foundation is starting an effort such that it would be supporting 57 centers in 23 countries.

 

Friday, May 11, 2012 - 3:00am

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has revived a whistle-blower lawsuit against two teaching hospitals affiliated with Harvard University's medical school. The suit claims that researchers violated the False Claims Act by submitting false statements about their research in grant applications to the National Institutes of Health. A lower court dismissed the suit, but the appeals court revived it, saying that the lower court incorrectly did not examine certain potential testimony and evidence that might have backed the whistle-blower claims. The appeals court ruling did not resolve the issues in the suit itself.

(Note: This article has been updated from an earlier version to correct the targets of the lawsuit.)

Friday, May 11, 2012 - 3:00am

A report Wednesday night in a reliable Texas blog that some members of the University of Texas Board of Regents were maneuvering to fire Bill Powers as president of the Austin campus had students and faculty members rallying behind Powers on Thursday. Regents who are close to Governor Rick Perry are reportedly angry that Powers has argued for small tuition increases for his campus, rather than the tuition freeze requested by Perry. Powers has also defended his faculty members from criticisms made by a think tank with close ties to Perry. Hours after the blog post revealed the tensions, students had created Facebook pages to line up support. In less than 24 hours, I Stand With Bill Powers had nearly 10,000 members, most of them students and alumni.

Many wrote that they trusted Powers's views of the university's budget needs and that they worried about the impact of the board rejecting his tuition requests or firing him. One woman who graduated last year wrote: "I full-heartedly support President Bill Powers as the President of our esteemed university. I know that if he leaves, the results will be devastating. There would be no top-quality candidate that would wish to work at a university where politics play such a heavy handed role, and where such a leader is not free to voice his opinion without fear of retaliation. President Powers has been an incredible driving force in raising the standard, rigor, and value of a University of Texas degree, and should continue to do so."

Faculty leaders were circulating a resolution Thursday, on which they hope to vote Monday, to back Powers. "Recognizing the extraordinary efforts exerted by UT Austin President Bill Powers and his administrative team in support of the recent proposal for a modest, well-documented, and crucial tuition increase, the Faculty Council strongly commends them for seeking to protect and enhance the quality of our students' education and the value of their degrees, as well as the research and public service achievements of the faculty. The fact that the regents ultimately rejected the proposal diminishes neither the campus's need for such financial support nor the efforts made to attain it," the resolution says.

Late Thursday, Powers released a short statement: "I love The University of Texas, and it’s an honor to serve as its president. I am deeply grateful for the support of our students, faculty, staff, and the thousands of members of the UT family. I will continue to work with the entire UT community to move the university forward. At this moment, I am focused on the more than 8,000 students who will graduate next week and make immeasurable contributions to society -- extending the university’s legacy of excellence and our positive impact on Texas."

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