Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Fidel Castro has apparently taken an interest in Beloit College's annual "mindset list" designed to help professors (in a humorous way) reflect on the experiences they and their new students don't share. The college released this year's list last week. Beloit officials were surprised to learn that the list was cited in a column by the Cuban leader, who took the list quite seriously. After citing some of the items on the list, Castro writes: "I was stunned to realize to what extent education could be distorted and prostituted in a country with more than 8 000 nuclear weapons and the most powerful means of war in the whole world."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - 3:00am

The proportion of new faculty members at medical schools and academic medical centers who are hired on the tenure track has fallen to 25 percent, down from 46 percent in 1984, according to new data in Analysis in Brief, a publication of the Association of American Medical Colleges. The research found that the decline is not from academic medical centers dropping tenure altogether -- only a small number lack tenure systems and that number hasn't grown -- but from institutions increasing hiring off the tenure track.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - 3:00am

The day some thought would never come has finally been set. After years of delays, methodology changes and griping about the delays and methodology changes, the National Research Council announced Monday that its rankings of doctoral programs would be released to the public on Sept. 28. Institutions will receive information about their programs in advance of the public release.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - 3:00am

Connecticut's attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, announced that he is joining a suit by Wesleyan University against Thomas Kannam, the university's former investment officer. A statement from Blumenthal said that Kannam used Wesleyan funds to do work for private firms to which he had financial ties -- in violation of university rules. Further, the suit charges that Kannam billed the university for trips -- one to the Super Bowl, one to Britain for his entire family -- that had no connection to university business. The attorney general's suit charges that these actions, on which Inside Higher Ed reported in January, violate state law. A lawyer for Kannam told Bloomberg: "Alumni, faculty and students should also be distressed that the university’s leadership has chosen to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees on a case that will ultimately produce million-dollar counterclaims against the school by those whose reputations have been severely injured by Wesleyan’s reckless allegations.”

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - 3:00am

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction Monday barring new federal support for stem cell research under the rules issued by the Obama administration, Reuters reported. A lawsuit challenging the rules says that they permit the destruction of human embryos, in violation of federal law.

Monday, August 23, 2010 - 3:00am

Would-be transfer students in California -- already frustrated by shrinking slots at many state universities -- are finding themselves in a new form of limbo, the Los Angeles Times reported. August is a time that the students can apply for spring admission to California State University campuses. This year, the university is operating the same admissions period, so students can apply. But the university says that if the state doesn't provide more money, there will be no slots for anyone to enroll in.

Monday, August 23, 2010 - 3:00am

Non-tenure-track faculty members at Central Michigan University have voted to unionize and to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers. The Detroit Free Press reported that 108 faculty members voted to be represented by the AFT, 20 voted to be represented by the Michigan affiliate of the National Education Association, and 35 voted not to be represented. The vote at Central Michigan is among several AFT wins for non-tenure-track faculty in Michigan this year. Adjuncts voted to form unions at Eastern Michigan and Ferris State Universities, and a new adjunct union negotiated its first contract at Western Michigan University.

Monday, August 23, 2010 - 3:00am

The Education Department has pushed back the first meeting of its reconstituted advisory committee on accreditation. The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, which Congress scuttled in 2008 amid concerns that its work had been overly politicized by the Bush administration, was scheduled to hold its first meeting in its new form, and with a new roster of members, in September. But in a notice in today's Federal Register, the department announced that the first meeting would instead be held in December.

Monday, August 23, 2010 - 3:00am

A right-wing group is calling on Israel's Ben Gurion University to alter its political science department -- accused by the group of being too left-leaning and not sufficiently Zionist, The Jerusalem Post reported. If the university doesn't act (and it doesn't plan to), the group is threatening to discourage donors from giving to the university. One of the department's professors -- Neve Gordon -- has been a constant target for his outspoken criticism of his country's policies. While the university has been criticized by many academics for not sufficiently defending Gordon, the university also didn't fire him -- as many critics have demanded.

Monday, August 23, 2010 - 3:00am

Kiss-ins involving pairs of men and women wouldn't stun many American campuses, but at Stellenbosch University, a very traditional Afrikaans institution in South Africa, a kiss by two men has set off considerable debate, The Christian Science Monitor reported. The kiss involved an attempt by a gay student group to participate in a "kiss-a-thon" on campus that had been planned only for heterosexual couples. Many at the campus were stunned when the student paper, Die Matie, ran a photo of the men on the cover -- and the debate has raged ever since.

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