Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 11, 2012

Echoing the findings of other reports and statements about doctoral education in recent months, a commission of the American Chemical Society issued a report Monday that urges significant changes in the structure, curriculums, and financing of graduate programs in chemistry to better align the interests of students, institutions and the discipline. Among the recommendations are that the median time to Ph.D. for individual chemistry departments be no more than five years, that financial support for students be uncoupled (to the extent possible) from grants and contracts, and that universities set the size of their doctoral programs based on the availability of "truly attractive opportunities for graduates" in chemical science professions. "A large undergraduate teaching need is not a sufficient justification for a large graduate program," the report states.

December 11, 2012

It didn't take Bobby Petrino long to get back into coaching. Eight months after the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville fired him as its football coach -- citing the fact that he had hired his mistress to work in the athletics department and then lied about it to his superiors -- Petrino got what his new bosses at Western Kentucky University say is a "second chance." "This is the United States of America, and we're a country of second chances," said the athletics director, Todd Stewart. Oddly, the university's news release about Petrino's hiring focused only on his football exploits.

December 11, 2012

Kathleen McCartney, dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, was on Monday named as the next president of Smith College. McCartney represents Harvard on the founding board of edX, the online education consortium founded by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She will succeed Carol T. Christ, who has served as president since 2002 and who is stepping down at the end of the academic year.

 

December 11, 2012

Margaret Crocco announced Monday that she is resigning as dean of the College of Education at the University of Iowa, where her tenure has been controversial, The Des Moines Register reported. Professors have questioned her leadership, and last week all of the members of a faculty advisory committee for the college quit amid reports that administrators ordered some faculty leaders to destroy the results of a survey about Crocco's performance.

 

December 11, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Stuart Robbins of the University of Colorado at Boulder explains his work mapping craters on the surface of Mars. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

December 11, 2012

Cecilia Chang, who killed herself last month while on trial on multiple charges, had been a prominent administrator at St. John's University, in New York. An article in The New York Times examines her record in helping to bring millions of dollars of grants to the university, and also the charges she faced of fraud, embezzlement and of forcing international students to do personal work for her. The article also provides details about her grisly suicide.

 

December 11, 2012

Just a day after the University of Notre Dame announced it would finally oblige long-denied requests to create a gay-straight alliance student group formally recognized by the university, the Catholic University of America again rejected a petition from its students to do the same. The CUAllies, who have been meeting unofficially since 2009 and have petitioned for formal recognition before, reported the news Friday via Facebook, saying Catholic will not recognize the group because of its “possibility of becoming an advocacy group.” Catholic officials declined to comment Monday afternoon.

December 11, 2012

A new cartoon, three new finalists to vote on, and the second winner of Inside Higher Ed's Cartoon Caption Contest -- all coming at you today.

To submit your captions for December's brand-new cartoon -- yes, it is winter-themed -- please click here. The three entries deemed most clever and creative by our experts' panel will be put to a vote by our readers, and the winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift certificate and a copy of the cartoon signed by Matthew Henry Hall, the artist.

Click here to vote on the three captions nominated as finalists for our November cartoon.

And congratulations to the winner of Cartoon Caption Contest for October, John Whitlock, dean of arts and sciences at Florida's Pasco-Hernando Community College. Find out more about him and his submission here.

Thanks for playing along.

December 10, 2012

The president of the University of Colorado System and a member of Congress had an unusually public fight over the implications of the recent vote by Colorado residents to decriminalize the use of marijuana. And two students at the Boulder campus are alleged to have served pot-laced brownies to unknowing students and a professor -- an act for which they have been arrested.

The Denver Post reported that Bruce Benson, president of the university system, sent alumni an e-mail message Friday night in which he warned that the measure could cost the university $1 billion in federal funds because of the requirements of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, which requires schools and colleges to ban illegal drugs (under federal statutes) from campuses. Benson was among those who urged Colorado voters (unsuccessfully as it turned out) not to decriminalize pot. The e-mail prompted U.S. Representative Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado, to take to Twitter, where he noted that the university has said that it won't allow pot use on campus -- and that the university maintains the right to enforce such bans. Polis write that Benson's claims were "FALSE," tweeting "Nothing in Amend64 requires CU let marijuana on campus" and "CU has made great progress in improving its reputation but President Benson jeopardizes it by pushing his personal opposition to Amend 64." A spokesman told Inside Higher Ed Sunday via e-mail that the university does believe that its ban on pot use on campus means that the institution is in compliance with federal law.

But even if Colorado decriminalizes marijuana, it is still illegal to serve pot-infused food to those who aren't aware of what they are eating. The University of Colorado at Boulder police department announced Sunday that two students there have been arrested for admitting that they served pot-laced brownies to a class on "bring food day" -- without telling the class what they were doing. The professor called police shortly after the class, complaining of dizziness and going in and out of consciousness. Two other students unaware of what they ate were hospitalized, one after an anxiety attack and the other after feeling like she was about to black out. The students who baked the brownies confirmed that they put marijuana in their batch, and they have been charged with four felonies each: assault in the second degree, inducing consumption of controlled substances by fraudulent means, conspiracy to commit assault in the second degree, and conspiracy to commit inducing consumption of controlled substances by fraudulent means.
 

 

December 10, 2012

All the members of the Faculty Advisory Committee for the College of Education at the University of Iowa have resigned in a growing disagreement between professors and administrators over the college's direction, the Associated Press reported. The chair of the committee said he was ordered by Provost P. Barry Butler to turn over and destroy comments made in a survey about the performance of Margaret Crocco, the education dean. The comments apparently were quite negative. Faculty leaders say that they aren't being listened to by the dean, and aren't sure how to move forward with administrators seeming uninterested in their grievances. Butler said that the comments haven't been destroyed and will be considered. Crocco said that she was working to improve communication with the college's faculty members.

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