Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Vanderbilt University on Wednesday announced that it has modified its nursing residency application forms to make clear that those accepted into the program will not be required to assist in abortions, The Tennessean reported. The Alliance Defense Fund complained about the application this week, saying that such a requirement would violate federal law. While Vanderbilt said originally that its application had been misunderstood, it has now agreed to change the language to clarify that there is no requirement to participate in abortions.

Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 3:00am

An Italian-American group is criticizing North Central College for plans to have Spike Lee as the keynote speaker during celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, the Chicago Tribune reported. "He wants to be provocative, and there's nothing wrong with that," Bill Dal Cerro, president of the Italic Institute of America, said. "Where we take issue is that he is provocative at our expense, to the point where he distorts our culture and goes out of his way almost to make us the bad guys." He cited such Spike Lee movies as "Do the Right Thing" and "Jungle Fever." Renard Jackson, a professor who organized the event, noted that Lee has offended many groups. "He's like Archie Bunker, he's an equal-opportunity portrayer of people, sometimes inadequately or improperly," Jackson said.

Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Pima Community College on Wednesday released reports on concerns officials there had when Jared L. Loughner, the man accused of the Tuscon shootings, was a student, The New York Times reported. The reports referred to incidents that worried instructors and fellow students. Loughner once insisted that the number 6 was really 18, sang in the library and made a YouTube video in which he suggested the college was engaged in genocide and the torture of students. Loughner withdrew from the college after he was suspended.

Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Manhattan College on Wednesday issued a statement denouncing a ruling Monday by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board that the institution was not religious enough to be exempt from federal laws on collective bargaining. The NLRB ruling -- which Manhattan's statement suggested will be appealed -- gives the go-ahead for adjuncts at Manhattan to unionize, finding that the college's relationship with its employees is essentially secular. Brennan O’Donnell, president of the Roman Catholic college, said in Manhattan's statement that “the analysis clearly and unfortunately demonstrates the NLRB’s lack of understanding of the identity of Manhattan College as a 21st-century Catholic college whose mission requires engagement with the broader culture of American society and higher education. Apparently the union and the government mistake our intellectual openness and welcoming spiritual environment, which we consider to be strengths of the Catholic intellectual tradition, as weaknesses. The ruling suggests that the Regional NLRB believes that the primary hallmarks of an authentic Catholic college or university are exclusionary hiring, a proselytizing atmosphere, and dogmatic inflexibility in the curriculum.” Union groups have praised the NLRB ruling.

Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Elise Lemire of the State University of New York at Purchase College examines how freed slaves shaped a town at the center of the American Revolution and American literature. Find out more about The Academic Minute here. (To download this podcast directly, please click here.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 3:00am

The Alliance Defense Fund on Tuesday charged Vanderbilt University Medical Center with violating a law that prevents federally funds from going to institutions that discriminate against applicants who do not want to assist in abortions. The dispute stems from Vanderbilt's Nurse Residency Program in the Women’s Health Track application (pdf), which says nurses “will be expected to care for women undergoing termination of pregnancy.” It continues: “If you feel you cannot provide care to women during this type of event, we encourage you to apply to a different track of the Nurse Residency Program to explore opportunities that may best fit your skills and career goals.”

In a statement released this morning, Vanderbilt University Medical Center North’s director of communications John Howser said that the allegations “have arisen due to a misunderstanding.” In a separate e-mail, he clarified the intention of the application: “The applicant must acknowledge … that he or she understands they may be asked to care for these patients at some point during their care. However, this DOES NOT mean the applicant will be required to participate in performing terminations as a requirement for training, but may be called upon to provide assistance at some point in the continuum of care.” Howser says that as of now, Vanderbilt University Medical Center cannot comment on whether it will change the language of the Nurse Residency application. Matt Bowman, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, responded, "Their description of the letter contradicts the letter itself. They're denying."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 3:00am

Yale failed to withhold taxes for the medical benefits for partners that its employees with same-sex partners receive from the university -- and as a result those employees are being hit with larger withholding totals now, The New York Times reported. The university said that 61 employees were affected.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 3:00am

Taiwan, which last year announced that its universities could admit students from China, has barred those students from certain academic programs, CNA reported. The Chinese students will be barred from police and military academies, and departments that engage in confidential research or surveys. The Chinese students will also be barred from research and educational programs involving the military or military-related technology.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 3:00am

A study being released today by the American Enterprise Institute found that, in a sample of parents asked to choose between two public colleges on the basis of their own knowledge and accurate information provided about graduation rates, the parents did care about graduation rates. Providing information about graduation rates increased by 15 percentage points the chance that the parents would prefer the institution with better rates, the study found. The significance of the finding, the report says, is that one way to help more Americans earn degrees is to encourage the enrollment of more students at institutions with better graduation rates than others.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 3:00am

Seton Hall University on Tuesday named A. Gabriel Esteban, provost and interim president, to the position of president. Seton Hall, a Roman Catholic University, originally tried to select a priest as its president, and re-opened its search last year to include lay candidates after pressure from faculty members who were not happy with the original finalists. Esteban, who is Catholic, told The Star-Ledger that he expected no change in the university's Catholic mission as a result of his appointment.

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