Higher Education Quick Takes

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

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).

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

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

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Bonnie Yankaskas, an epidemiologist, have settled a dispute over the extent to which she was responsible for a security breach in a computer database used for her studies on breast cancer, The News & Observer reported. The university -- in an action that dismayed many researchers at Chapel Hill and elsewhere -- held Yankaskas responsible, and demoted her from full to associate professor. She and her supporters argued that she was being made a scapegoat. Under the settlement, she is returning to full professor and her full professor's salary, but will retire at the end of the year.

The joint statement on the settlement is as follows: "The university acknowledges that Dr. Yankaskas is an eminent researcher and a long-standing faculty member, and that she has made many contributions to the advancement of science and the improvement of health care for women concerned about or experiencing breast cancer.... The university also acknowledges that there was a communication breakdown, which hindered Dr. Yankaskas from learning that CMR had a vulnerable server. Dr. Yankaskas acknowledges that, as principal investigator of CMR, she had the responsibility for the scientific, fiscal and ethical conduct of the project, and responsibility to hire and supervise the CMR information technology staff who, with assistance as requested from School of Medicine and University information technology professionals, operate and maintain the CMR computer systems on which secure data are maintained."

Monday, April 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The Jumbotron competition may be over. The latest must-have item for a big-time college football program is a statue, or statues, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The University of Florida, the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and Auburn University have all recently unveiled statues of football greats (coaches and players). The article noted that these honors are not just coming at the end of careers, as might have been the case in the past.

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

The University of San Francisco is being criticized for its decision to evict the Upward Bound program that has operated on its campus since 1966, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The program provides college preparation services for low-income college students, and many advocates for the disadvantaged in the area are saying that the university is abandoning its Jesuit values by kicking out the program. University officials say that it's nothing against the program, but they need its space (and the space of other groups being asked to leave) for other purposes.

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