Higher Education Quick Takes
Thomas J. Sargent and Christopher A. Sims were named this morning as winners of the 2011 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. There were honored "for their empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy."
Sargent is the William R. Berkley Professor of Economics and Business at New York University. Sims is the Harold H. Helm '20 Professor of Economics and Banking at Princeton University.
The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which is one year old, is holding its first international scientific conference, and the event is renewing the debate about the institution, The Washington Post reported. The university is a private institution with faculty members trained in the West and financial support from evangelical Christians -- all very unusual characteristics for a university in North Korea. Proponents see the university as a sign of progress. But critics worry that it helps North Korea's government.
The National Council and the Collective Bargaining Congress of the American Association of University Professors on Friday endorsed the Occupy Wall Street protests. The statement announcing the endorsement cited both critiques of national political and economic trends, and of developments in higher education. Of the former, the AAUP said, "Over the last several years, we have watched as those at the very top have prospered while the fortunes of those below the very top have stagnated or declined."
On higher education, the statement cited pressures on students who "are being forced to pay more for tuition and go deeper into debt because of cuts in state funding, only to find themselves unemployed when they graduate." Further, the statement criticized the way many faculty members are treated. "The majority of college and university faculty positions are now insecure, part-time jobs. In addition, attacks on collective bargaining have been rampant throughout the nation, as our job security, wages, health benefits, and pensions have been either reduced or slated for elimination," the statement said.
It added: "Therefore, it is time to stand up for what is right. We applaud the action the Occupy Wall Street movement has taken to highlight the inequity and unfairness of the society in which we live."
Michael Freeman has resigned as board chair of Nassau Community College after he was indicted in a real estate corruption scandal in New York City, the Associated Press reported. Freeman pleaded not guilty to the charges, which did not relate to the college.
At Boston University last week, every freshman and transfer student -- all 4,300 of them -- received a call from a university official asking how they were doing in their adjustment to the institution, The Boston Globe reported. Among those making the calls were the provost and dean of students. The idea is to show personal attention, and to invite any students facing difficulties to seek assistance.
Islamists stormed the University of Sousse, in Tunisia, on Saturday as tensions escalated over the university's refusal to enroll a woman who wears a full face veil, Reuters reported. After the incident, security forces surrounded the faculty building to prevent further attacks.
West Virginia University on Friday asked reporters to avoid calling studies by its faculty members "WVU research," The Charleston Gazette reported. Many colleges and universities routinely urge reporters to cover research by their faculty members, and to link the findings to the institution involved. A statement from the university said that it was trying to clarify only that the university does not take a stand on research -- except to defend professors' rights to explore ideas. But the newspaper noted that the clarification followed a series of public health studies by the university's researchers that have been heavily criticized by the coal industry, an influential force in West Virginia.
The 2011 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics will be awarded this morning. This site will be updated when information is available.
Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City, is having a public fight with New York University, where he earned his law degree. The New York Times reported that Koch demanded that the NYU's law school distribute a rebuttal to a report that is highly critical of some of the U.S. government's prosecutions of terror suspects. NYU says that anyone is welcome to criticize the report, but that the university cannot selectively involve itself in critiquing controversial work by its faculty members. Koch told the Times: "Academic freedom doesn’t mean you have the right to distribute false reports, and when called to your attention, to do nothing about it. The dean doesn’t seem to care whether it’s factual or not."
But John Beckman, an NYU spokesman said: "We live in a society where there are lots of institutions that speak with a single voice. That is not how a university works. We provide a forum for a lot of different views, including controversial views. So when an outsider sees something with which he or she disagrees and says, 'Condemn that point of view,' that is the exact opposite of what we are about."
Michael Berkowitz, who formerly was director of enrollment at the University of Phoenix, is facing murder charges in Colorado, The Colorado Springs Gazette reported. Authorities say that he ordered his bodyguard to kill a man Berkowitz believed had sold him dirt, rather than drugs. Berkowitz's lawyers maintain that the bodyguard is responsible for the death, and that a back condition led Berkowitz to become addicted to heroin, setting off the chain of events that led to the killing in which Berkowitz is charged.