Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, January 23, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Tokyo is planning a shift over the next five years to a fall start for its academic year, The Japan Times reported. The issue has been under consideration for months -- and is seen as important by university leaders who want to promote more collaboration with Western institutions that start their academic years in the fall. The current schedule is also believed to discourage study abroad by Tokyo students, and the recruitment of foreign students to spend a semester at Tokyo. Given the stature of the University of Tokyo within Japanese higher education, its move is expected to influence many other institutions in the country to follow its lead.

 

Monday, January 23, 2012 - 4:27am

A federal judge on Friday ordered Boston College to turn over to the government, to provide to British authorities, documents related to seven interview subjects in an oral history collection on the violence in Northern Ireland, The Boston Globe reported. An earlier order is the subject of a stay by a federal appeals court, which is currently reviewing the legal issues in the case. The British government, citing a treaty with the United States, says that the documents could help with ongoing criminal investigations. But many historians have been alarmed by the case, saying that forcing Boston College to release the documents could discourage people from participating in oral history interviews. The interviews at Boston College, like those in many such oral history collections, were intended for release only after specified time periods, such as the death of those who spoke with researchers.

 

Monday, January 23, 2012 - 3:00am

The "Shit Girls Say" YouTube video has turned into a meme inspiring numerous videos making fun of things various groups say. While undergrads were mocked fairly instantly, some recent additions focus on other groups in academe: rhetoric scholars and grad students.

 

 

 

 

Monday, January 23, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Michael French of the University of Miami explains the link between the health of the economy and patterns of alcohol consumption. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, January 23, 2012 - 3:00am

Joe Paterno, the former Pennsylvania State University football coach whose career was ended and reputation tarnished over an explosive sex abuse scandal, died Sunday morning at the age of 85 from complications resulting from lung cancer. Paterno's health deteriorated rapidly after the Penn State Board of Trustees fired him, along with President Graham B. Spanier, for not doing more when informed that his former assistant of 16 years may have been sexually abusing young boys.

The winningest coach in Division I history, Paterno was widely respected and known for imparting to players the importance of ethical behavior and academic success. Just last week, The Washington Post published Paterno's first interview since his dismissal, in which he said he didn't follow up on the allegations against Jerry Sandusky -- the coach relayed what he'd heard to  his superiors, but not police -- because he "didn't know exactly how to handle it." In one of the few comments Paterno made as the scandal was unfolding, he said, "I wish I had done more."

The university, which has been criticized by some alumni for its treatment of Paterno, issued a statement Sunday that made no mention of the scandal. The statement said: "We grieve for the loss of Joe Paterno, a great man who made us a greater university. His dedication to ensuring his players were successful both on the field and in life is legendary and his commitment to education is unmatched in college football. His life, work and generosity will be remembered always." The university also reiterated plans to honor Paterno.

Monday, January 23, 2012 - 3:00am

An annual survey of the status of women in intercollegiate athletics finds record numbers of female athletes and teams, coaches and administrators in college programs. But the survey, conducted for the 35th year by two emerita professors at Brooklyn College, also finds that the proportion of head coaches of women's teams who are female has fallen below 50 percent, compared to about 90 percent in 1972, when Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was enacted. The report, produced by Linda Jean Carpenter and R. Vivian Acosta, contains a slew of data, on everything from players to strength coaches to trainers for women's teams.

 

Monday, January 23, 2012 - 3:00am

In a decision disappointing to many Christian and Roman Catholic colleges, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that while religiously affiliated employers would have an additional year to comply with a new rule requiring health insurance plans to cover birth control with no cost-sharing or co-pays, the definition of religious employers completely exempt from the requirement will not change. The exemption covers houses of worship but is worded narrowly enough to exclude religiously affiliated groups, including colleges. Two colleges have sued over the requirement.

Monday, January 23, 2012 - 3:00am

The Los Angeles Times continues to uncover problems in the management of building projects by the Los Angeles Community College District. The latest discovery: The company hired by the district to oversee $450 million in spending on the campus of Mission College took consulting fees from one of the contractors whose work it was supposed to be monitoring. While it was taking the consulting fees, the company signed off on payments to the contractor -- over the objections of architects and engineers who believed the billing was excessive.

 

Monday, January 23, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of California at Los Angeles "wholly neglected its legal obligations" to provide safety in a laboratory where a fire resulted in the death of a lab assistant three years ago, according to a report from Cal/OSHA -- a state work safety agency -- that was obtained by The Los Angeles Times. The report said that the professor supervising the lab "simply disregarded the open and obvious dangers presented in this case and permitted Victim Sangji to work in a manner that knowingly caused her to be exposed to a serious and foreseeable risk of serious injury or death." UCLA has denied negligence in what it has portrayed as an accident. The professor who ran the lab and the University of California Board of Regents have been indicted on charges that they failed to adhere to appropriate safety standards.

Monday, January 23, 2012 - 4:24am

Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, is today planning to introduce legislation that would limit the federal funds going to for-profit colleges for the education of veterans, The Chicago Tribune reported. The legislation would reduce from 90 to 85 percent the share of revenue for-profit colleges can receive from federal student aid funds. Further, the bill would count veterans benefits in that total, not just Education Department aid, as is currently the law. Durbin is among a number of lawmakers who have said that some for-profit colleges are taking advantage of veterans, who have generous education benefits. Brian Moran, interim president of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, criticized the planned legislation. "Senator Durbin's reported legislation on recruiting will only cut off access for thousands of veterans to the skill-intensive, hands-on programming and intensive job-placement support that veterans transitioning into the workplace need," he said.

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