Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 18, 2013

Amid controversy about one of two finalists’ involvement in military prison systems, the University of Missouri at Columbia has halted its search for a new division executive director in its College of Education.

Dan Clay, college dean, sent out an email last week saying he "decided to not fill the position at this time" after receiving a recommendation from a faculty search committee and "input from other stakeholders,” The Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

The announcement followed a protest and additional community backlash related to retired Col. Larry James’ consideration for the post, after his name surfaced as a strong candidate earlier this month. Opponents cited the former Army psychologist’s work at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as disqualifying for an academic position. James, dean of the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University, wrote about his experiences reforming both prisons’ treatment of detainees as their director of behavioral health in a memoir called Fixing Hell: An Army Psychologist Confronts Abu Ghraib. He maintains that numerous independent investigations have revealed no wrongdoing on his part.

A spokeswoman for Mizzou’s College of Education, told the Tribune it was "really a decision about both candidates," which also included Matthew Burns, a faculty member of the University of Minnesota Department of Educational Psychology. "Neither of the individuals was the right person at this time.”

James did not respond to a request for comment.

 

February 18, 2013

A new report from the American Sociological Association considers whether the discipline should embrace postdoctoral fellowships. Currently, postdocs are not common in sociology, although a few, small postdoc programs are successful. The question for the field, the report suggests, is whether expanding postdoc options could be done while preserving the high quality of the experience of those in the relatively few programs that exist now.

 

February 18, 2013

Morehouse College announced Saturday that President Obama will be its commencement speaker this year, Politico reported. Morehouse's new president, John Silvanus Wilson Jr., was executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities during President Obama's first term. U.S. presidents have in recent years appeared at three commencements a year -- one public institution, one private institutions and a U.S. service academy.

February 15, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Chris Wolff of the State University of New York at Plattsburgh reveals how fear of the unknown shaped culture during the peopling of North America. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


 

February 15, 2013

A Pennsylvania judge ruled Thursday that a former student had failed to demonstrate that a professor at Lehigh University was arbitrary in an illegal way in awarding her a C+, Lehigh Valley Live reported. The judge said that he did have some questions about the grade, but that the former student had failed to show that the grade was for "anything other than purely academic reasons." The former student had sought $1.3 million, saying that the low grade blocked her from proceeding in the graduate program of her choice.

 

February 15, 2013

The bookstore at Missouri State University handed out more than 6,000 free book bags with the word "university" spelled as "univeristy," The Springfield News-Leader reported. The university spent about $70,000 on the bags.

 

February 15, 2013

Advocates for college wrestling programs -- many of which have been dropped in recent years -- fear that the Olympic decision to drop the sport will lead to more team eliminations, The Chicago Tribune reported. "It will give athletic directors with tight budgets a new excuse," said Jim Scherr, a former Olympic wrestler. "Over a decade or two, the impact will be significant."

February 15, 2013

Science and engineering research space at research-performing colleges and universities increased 3.5 percent from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2011, growing to 202.9 million net assignable square feet, according to a new analysis from the recent data from the National Science Foundation. The biggest growth was in facilities for biological and biomedial sciences, which saw an increase of 8 percent. Details about the study are available here.

 

February 14, 2013

Saying that student borrowers have been left out of the "refinancing boom" that has resulted from low interest rates, Campus Progress, a branch of the Center for American Progress called for a federal program allowing refinancing for student loans — including private student loans — at a lower rate. Unsubsidized undergraduate loans, and all graduate loans, currently have a 6.8 percent interest rate. (The interest rate for federally subsidized student loans is set to double to 6.8 percent on July 1.) "Reduced student loan costs boost the likelihood of repayment while also stimulating the economy by freeing up income that can be used and spent in other sectors of the economy," the group wrote.

February 14, 2013

Students at Oberlin College and residents of Oberlin, Ohio gathered Wednesday to discuss a "no trespass" list maintained by the college, The Plain Dealer reported. Those on the list are effectively banned from campus. Critics focused on problems created because people are not informed that they are on the list, or given a chance to demonstrate that they shouldn't be on the list. An Oberlin security officer attended the meeting, but did not comment on the criticisms.

 

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