Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

Students and professors at California State University at Northridge are frustrated by strict limits on enrollments this semester, with most students barred from enrolling in more than 15 credits and most faculty members barred from letting any of their courses exceed enrollment limits, The Los Angeles Times reported. The reason for the tight enforcement of such rules? Northridge enrolled several thousand students beyond its cap (and beyond funding levels provided by the state) in the fall, and so the system is threatening to withhold $7 million if the campus doesn't bring enrollment down this semester.


Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

The Princeton University Art Museum has returned six works of art to Italy, in the latest of a series of agreements between Italian authorities and museums over archaeological finds that were removed from Italy under questionable circumstances. The agreement specifically stipulates that Princeton acted in good faith and owned the works at the time of transfer. In many of the disputes, museums purchased or were given works that appeared to be legitimate for sale or donation. The objects returned are: a pair of female statuettes; four fragments of a red-figure calyx krater; fragments of an architectural relief; a pithos in white-on-red style; and a group of fragmentary architectural revetments.

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

With longstanding tensions rising between the wealthiest and most powerful programs and all other Division I members, the National Collegiate Athletic Association plans to study how its top division is governed, with an eye toward further separating the biggest programs from others, President Mark Emmert told USA Today. The biggest and richest programs have long dominated NCAA decision making, often getting their way on major decisions because of a veiled threat that they might break away from the rest and take their value to television networks with them. But the major programs' disproportionate power was memorialized when Division I abandoned its one-institution, one-vote form of democratic governance in favor of a representative system more than a decade ago.

Tensions have flared at various times when the larger and richer programs have sought rules changes that smaller programs either cannot afford or do not support, and at this month's NCAA convention, opponents blocked adoption of proposals to increase the value and length of athletics scholarships. In comments to USA Today Sunday, Emmert said the new panel would examine how Division I makes decisions, and unidentified officials cited by the newspaper said the association would consider some further subdivision of members in how they govern their programs, but not in who they compete against.

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

Tih-Fen Ting, professor in environmental studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield, resigned as chair of the Senate at the campus on Friday, after being linked to an e-mail scandal, The News-Gazette reported. Ting was found to have sent numerous e-mail messages from faculty leaders (which they assumed were not being shared with administrators) with the chief of staff of the president of the university system. That chief of staff has since resigned amid a report suggesting she sent anonymous e-mail messages to faculty leaders, seeking to influence their stands on various issues.

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Nicholas Leadbeater of the University of Connecticut explains why artificial sweeteners can be thousands of times sweeter than real sugar. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 4:30am

"Undergrads," a new online video project by James Franco, is not going over well at the University of Southern California, where it is set, The Los Angeles Times reported. Shots of hard drinking, hook-up culture and plenty of apparently trouble-free wealthy students are stereotypical, many students and university officials say. The university has been pushing hard to be a more serious academic institution, and "Undergrads" is seen by many as outdated at best. Many of the comments students have been posting at The Daily Trojan, the student newspaper, are also critical, but some students are writing that the video is an accurate portrayal of Greek culture at the university.


Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

Sophia Stockton, a junior at Mid-America Nazarene University, in Kansas, got a surprise when her textbook Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, Perspectives and Issues arrived from the supplier she located through Amazon.com for a spring course on terrorism. As WPTV reported, when she opened the used textbook, a bag of white powder fell out. She thought it might be anthrax, and so took it to the police. The substance turned out to be cocaine.

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

For people from disadvantaged backgrounds, going to college decreases the odds that they will get married, according to a study being published in February's issue of The Journal of Family and Marriage. College attendance decreases the odds of marriage by 38 percent for men and 22 percent for women among those who are the least advantaged, the study found. For those in the highest category of advantage, going to colleges increases men's marriage odds by 31 percent and women's odds by 8 percent. Kelly Musick, a sociologist at Cornell University who did the research, along with scholars at the University of California at Los Angeles, said that the study raises questions about the idea that "college is the great equalizer." What holds true for the labor market, she said, may not hold true for the marriage market.



Friday, January 27, 2012 - 4:29am

The National Council on Teacher Quality is suing the University of Wisconsin for access to the syllabuses used in teacher education programs throughout the system, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The council is in the process of rating teacher education programs in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report. While the council has some support in the teacher ed world, many deans are dubious of the council's methodology, and accuse it of unfairly bashing programs. The council wants to review syllabuses to see what material is covered in courses, and has had success in obtaining such information from other public universities. But University of Wisconsin officials maintain that a syllabus is subject by copyright, and thus is not covered by the state's public records law.

Friday, January 27, 2012 - 3:00am

U.S. authorities have arrested Seyed Mojtaba Atarodi, an assistant professor at Sharif University of Technology, in Iran, and charged him with violating U.S. export laws by purchasing high-tech lab equipment, the Associated Press reported. He is being held in California.



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