Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Southern California may discipline the students involved in photographs -- which went viral Tuesday -- showing a couple having sex on the roof of a university building, the Los Angeles Times reported. University policy bars unauthorized access to the roofs of buildings. The photographs are available here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

Lynn Pasquerella, president of Mount Holyoke College, on Tuesday sent a letter to Governor Paul LePage of Maine to criticize his decision to remove a mural depicting Maine's labor history from the state Department of Labor building. Governor LePage said that the mural was too pro-labor. Pasquerella wrote that many Mount Holyoke alumnae were concerned about the situation because the mural includes Frances Perkins, an alumna who was a key figure in Maine and U.S. labor history. The governor also removed the Perkins name from a conference room in the labor building. "I was particularly surprised to read that you were influenced by an anonymous fax comparing the 11-panel mural to North Korean political propaganda, because the act of removing images commemorating Maine's history itself conjures thoughts of the rewriting of history prevalent in totalitarian regimes," wrote Pasquerella. "If the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. is housed in the Frances Perkins Building, why can't she be honored with a conference room in Augusta?"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

A think tank in Michigan has filed state open records requests seeking e-mail messages to and from labor studies scholars at three universities, related to the skirmishing over public employee unions in Wisconsin, according to the blog Talking Points Memo. In the wake of the controversial filing of a similar request for the e-mail records of a leading scholar at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the Mackinac Center For Public Policy submitted requests under the state Freedom of Information Act to policy centers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Wayne State University, and Michigan State University. The requests seek e-mails since early January that include the words "Scott Walker" (Wisconsin's governor), "Wisconsin," "Madison" and "Maddow" (for the MSNBC commentator Rachel).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Harvard University's Peter Godfrey-Smith examines the brain of the octopus -- with the eye of a philosopher. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Tuesday overturned a lower court's ruling that could have forced the University of Chicago to turn over invaluable Persian antiquities to a group of people suing Iran. Chicago has the antiquities on a long-term loan and has pledged to return them to Iran, but was temporarily blocked from doing so by a suit by American victims of a terrorist attack in Israel, who sued to recover Iranian assets in the United States after winning a finding that Iran was responsible for the attack. The appeals court ruled that the plaintiffs' approach (and the lower court's ruling) failed to recognize the protections the United States grants to the property of foreign countries. The University of Chicago and museum groups have worried that the lower court's ruling, if upheld, would discourage countries from allowing any objects of value to travel to the United States for any reason -- potentially limiting intellectually valuable scholarship or art exhibits.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

EverFi Inc., a company that offers schools and colleges online programs on financial literacy, student loan management and other subjects, is today announcing that it has acquired Outside the Classroom, which operates AlcoholEdu, an online program for college students that has become a popular tool for colleges to use to discourage alcohol abuse. (EverFi's CEO, Tom Davidson, previously served on the board of Inside Higher Ed.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

An analysis in USA Today finds that the real value of an athletic scholarship for a single year is $120,000 for men's basketball -- more than four times the median value reported by colleges and universities at the top level of collegiate play. USA Today calculates that value as including such goods and services as coaching; academic counseling; strength and conditioning consulting; help in dealing with reporters, medical insurance and treatment; game tickets; and future earnings potential due to a college education. The article also quotes some experts questioning the newspaper's approach to the issue.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

The Fiesta Bowl terminated its president with cause Tuesday, after an independent investigation revealed that officials from the marquee college football bowl game directed more than $46,000 in improper campaign contributions to local politicians and gave themselves and state officials supportive of the bowl “excessive compensation” and “inappropriate gifts.” The investigation also uncovered a “conspiracy to conceal” this behavior from the bowl’s board of directors and state officials. Duane Woods, chairman of the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors, responded in a statement: “The actions undertaken and orchestrated by John Junker [the bowl game's president and chief executive officer] and others are shocking and completely unacceptable. Their actions, unfortunately, have tainted the stellar reputation that the Fiesta Bowl has worked so hard to maintain for more than 40 years.”

The Independent Special Committee, which undertook the investigation, offered a series of recommendations to “address and prevent future improprieties,” which the bowl’s board recently approved. Woods added: “Clearly, the board placed too much trust in a single executive without proper oversight.… We also plan to share the lessons learned from this experience with other bowls around the country and the [Bowl Championship Series] and seek further input on our reforms.”

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

Just days after being introduced, a bill that would bar community and state colleges in Florida from awarding tenure to faculty members was approved, 8 to 4, by a House of Representatives subcommittee on Tuesday. Faculty groups and several college presidents have come out against the bill, but a representative of the Associated Industries of Florida, a business lobby, endorsed the legislation. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Representative Erik Fresen, a Republican who chairs the K-20 Competitiveness Subcommittee, said that tenure makes it difficult for colleges to adjust to meet student demand in certain fields. "Oftentimes, the colleges cannot respond in time because of these 'handcuff' situations," he said.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

Amid recommendations that all registered nurses be required to attain bachelor’s-level nursing degrees, the American Association of Community Colleges defends associate-level schools of nursing in its latest policy brief. Released Tuesday, the brief argues that these two-year programs have their place alongside bachelor’s-level schools of nursing, “because they contribute individually to collectively building a strong nursing workforce.” It notes that “the majority of the nation’s new R.N.'s are educated in associate-level schools of nursing” and that these programs “provide the nation its greatest number of minority R.N.'s” and “educate the majority of R.N.'s in rural settings.” Furthermore, the brief asserts that health care employers are “equally likely to hire” R.N.'s prepared in associate-level and in bachelor’s-level schools of nursing.

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