Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, February 7, 2011 - 3:00am

The Orange County District Attorney on Friday charged 11 men affiliated with the Muslim Student Union at the University of California at Irvine with two misdemeanor counts each: one count of conspiracy to disrupt a meeting and one count of disturbing a meeting. If convicted, the students could face up to six months in jail. The charges stem from an incident a year ago in which members of the student group repeatedly interrupted a talk at Irvine by Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States. Leaders of the Muslim student group have denied that they did anything wrong, and some at Irvine who criticized the heckling have said that this is a matter that should be adjudicated by the university (which has already done so). District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, however, said in announcing the charges: "This case is being filed because there was an organized attempt to squelch the speaker, who was invited to speak to a group at UCI. These defendants meant to stop this speech and stop anyone else from hearing his ideas, and they did so by disrupting a lawful meeting. This is a clear violation of the law and failing to bring charges against this conduct would amount to a failure to uphold the Constitution."

Monday, February 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Purdue University officials told their board Friday that they have uncovered two cases in which tenured faculty members committed financial fraud, The Lafayette Journal and Courier reported. Officials said that "corrective measures" have been taken, but declined to elaborate on them or to identify the professors involved.

Monday, February 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Apple may be developing a stylus pen to go with the iPad in an effort to appeal to students, The New York Times reported. According to the blog Patently Apple, the company filed a patent in 2008 for a special stylus that works with its touchscreen devices. The Times quoted an anonymous source at Apple who said a stylus could increase the utility of the iPad in education. “It’s one of the barriers for school kids and college students to purchase an iPad where they want the ability to take notes by hand and draw in class,” the Times quoted the source as saying. A number of students and professors have noted as much to Inside Higher Ed. A second version of the iPad is expected to be unveiled this spring.

Monday, February 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Many colleges and universities rely on their Greek organizations' leadership groups to help prevent hazing. But at the University of Kansas, officials recently found that the Interfraternity Council itself has been engaged in hazing, with members paddling one another as part of leadership transition ceremonies, The Kansas City Star reported. The university is planning sanctions, which have yet to be determined, against the council.

Monday, February 7, 2011 - 3:00am

A team of researchers at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education captured considerable attention last week with a new report questioning whether the United States has placed too much of an emphasis on an (unsuccessful) effort to prepare all students for college, when a more vocationally oriented "realistic" approach might yield greater results. On Saturday, Gary Rhoades, the general secretary of the American Association of University Professors, released a statement denouncing the report as based on "a narrowed set of largely class-based educational paths that will reduce rather than expand educational opportunity." Rhoades writes that the vision of the Harvard report is too much like the traditional European approach to education, when the United States has historically had different values. "Part of that commitment is to provide people with multiple opportunities to pursue higher education, not to have their educational and occupational futures determined at the age of 12 or 13. Predetermining a student’s future makes no sense in a world in which occupational paths regularly include numerous career changes," Rhoades writes.

Monday, February 7, 2011 - 3:00am

A former assistant coach for the University of Southern Indiana men’s basketball team asked a booster to complete a written assignment and final exam paper for a player with a low grade-point average, according to a National Collegiate Athletic Association report released Friday. In addition, the former assistant coach, whom the report did not name, bought an airline ticket for another recruit. The report notes that Rick Herdes, the team's former head coach, failed to monitor the behavior of the assistant coach and knew of his rules violations. Southern Indiana must serve a one-year probation, vacate all wins in which the two players involved in the violations participated, and disassociate itself from the booster in question. Herdes and the assistant coach garnered two- and three-year show-cause penalties, respectively. As a result, institutions that hire them must inform the NCAA how they plan to monitor their behavior.

Monday, February 7, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, George Kester of Washington and Lee University explains what the outcome of the Super Bowl says about the stock market. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, February 7, 2011 - 3:00am

The union that represents police officers at the California State University System is buying advertising to promote the idea that the university's Sacramento campus is crime-ridden and needs more police officers, The Sacramento Bee reported. Several recent sex assaults have many on the campus worried about crime, but the union's campaign is controversial because the university says that -- when statistics are compared over time -- the campus does not have a notable crime problem.

Friday, February 4, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Amanda Bower of Washington and Lee University explains the Super Bowl’s rare position as a shared experience in modern American society, and what that means to advertisers. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, February 4, 2011 - 3:00am

The Washington State Supreme Court upheld the right of Western Washington University to hold closed disciplinary hearings for a professor who maintained that his rights were violated by the lack of open hearings, the Associated Press reported. The ruling said that state law permits public universities to create their own rules for peer-review based hearings.

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