Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Nicole Soper Gorden of the University of Massachusetts Amherst explains the love-hate relationship the plant kingdom has with insects, and how some plants defend themselves. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 3:00am

A University of Notre Dame investigation into the October death of a student worker during a football practice found the incident to be a "collective responsibility" for which no individual can be blamed, according to a report on the inquiry. Declan Sullivan died when the hydraulic lift from which he was videotaping the football team fell over in high winds, but the investigation concluded that no one can be blamed in the incident. "We did not find any individual who disregarded safety or was indifferent to safety. Consequently, there was not any individual discipline," Notre Dame's president, the Rev. John Jenkins, said. "Our conclusion is that it's a collective responsibility that must be deal with collectively as we move forward."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 3:00am

Students at St. John's University in New York are protesting its refusal to recognize a gay-straight alliance, The New York Daily News reported. University officials said that they cannot recognize any group inconsistent with the Roman Catholic teachings of the institution. But students note that the university enrolls gay students, professes a strong commitment to diversity and recognizes Jewish and Muslim student groups, among many others.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 3:00am

Three academics were on Monday named winners of Pulitzer Prizes in arts and letters. Kay Ryan, who teaches at the College of Marin, won the poetry prize for The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (Grove Press). In a 2009 interview with Inside Higher Ed, Ryan discussed her work and her efforts on behalf of community colleges. Eric Foner, the DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, won the history prize for The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (W.W. Norton & Company). Siddhartha Mukherjee, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University, won the general nonfiction prize for The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (Scribner).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 3:00am

Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona on Monday vetoed legislation that would have allowed individuals to carry guns on public routes through college and university campuses, The Arizona Daily Sun reported. The measure, which Brewer said she vetoed because it was "poorly written," was strongly opposed by most college officials in the state. It is one of several measures under consideration in various states around the country.

Monday, April 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The Collegian, the student weekly at La Salle University, left the top of its most recent edition blank, to protest a ban from the university on coverage of a recent scandal at the top of the page, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The newspaper, it turns out, had the story of the scandal -- a business professor being investigated for hiring strippers to appear in class and, according to some reports, performing lap dances -- before other media outlets. But the student journalists say they were initially barred from any coverage. An editorial in The Collegian explains: "We didn’t publish a story because we weren’t allowed. This begs an explanation and a confession: the La Salle Collegian is not a real newspaper. It is a student newspaper, more specifically, a student newspaper at a private university. As you may infer, the differences are astronomical." A La Salle spokesman did not respond to an e-mail inquiry asking for comment.

Monday, April 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates last week arrested Nasser bin Ghaith, an economics professor at the Sorbonne's Abu Dhabi branch campus, shortly after he called for democratic reforms in the U.A.E., Bloomberg reported. The arrest appears to be part of a crackdown on democracy activists and may raise concerns for Western universities operating in the country, which have been assured of the rights of academic freedom for their faculty members.

Monday, April 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Donald Green is executive vice president of instruction and student services at Florida State College at Jacksonville, a job that pays $166,000. And as The Florida Times-Union reported, he's also working 15-20 hours a week as a consultant at Essex County College, in New Jersey, which has paid him $46,000 over the last six months. Faculty members at Essex have raised questions about Green's work there, but Steven Wallace, president of Florida State College, said he wasn't concerned as long as Green is doing his second job on his own time. Green said he uses vacation time and off hours for all of his work for Essex.

Monday, April 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Police officers ended a four-day building takeover at California State University at Sacramento early Saturday morning, telling students that they would be arrested if they did not leave, which they did, The Sacramento Bee reported. The students were protesting budget cuts to higher education in the state. Kevin Wehr, president of the faculty union at Sacramento State, said that the administration made "a horrible mistake" in calling in the police. "I believe [the students] are fighting for their education, and that is a righteous cause," he said.

Monday, April 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, has repeatedly denied that he is trying to influence the direction of Texas colleges in ways beyond the periodic proposals of new ideas or appointing board members. But The Houston Chronicle, based on public records requests for e-mail messages between the governor and university officials, reported that the governor has been pushing an agenda. Among the ideas he has promoted are measuring faculty members' "productivity" through course enrollments, and linking faculty compensation to student evaluations.

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