A new website, Science Works for Us, has been launched to document the impact on federally supported research of the possible across-the-board budget cut (or sequestration) that looms if President Obama and Congress don't reach a budget deal. The site was created by the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the Science Coalition. Among the features is a state-by-state map showing how much money would be lost to university research if sequestration goes forward.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is among the Republicans being talked about as one who might lead his party to more moderate positions on issues such as immigration. Rubio sits on the Senate science committee, and an interview with GQ created much Internet buzz over his statement in response to a question about the age of the earth. "I'm not a scientist, man," said Rubio. "I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I'm not a scientist. I don't think I'm qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries."
Jewish alumni of Queen’s University, in Ontario, are distressed by the institution’s decision to award former U.S. President Jimmy Carter an honorary degree due to his critical views on Israel, the National Post reported. Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Carter Center for advancing human rights, wrote a 2006 book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, that described Israel as an apartheid state.
Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Toronto-based Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said the organization has received about 50 complaints from Queen’s alumni. Of Carter, Fogel told the National Post, “He simply doesn’t meet the test of somebody that is seeking to offer a constructive contribution towards advancing peace. And it’s in that context that we’d express real disappointment that a leading institution like Queen’s would further legitimize or validate him by conferring on him this kind of award.”
Many Chinese universities fear a decline in student physical fitness, Xinhua reported. More than 30 universities have called off traditional long-distance races because they fear that there are not students fit enough to compete. While students at many universities must pass a physical education test to graduate, they ignore fitness and sometimes beg their instructors to pass them.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, announced in a speech Friday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California that he plans to propose major changes in the funding of technical colleges and University of Wisconsin System, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. Walker said that funding needs to shift so that higher education institutions are funded not on enrollment or even completion, but on completion in programs that train students for jobs that the state needs.
"We’re going to tie our funding in our technical colleges and our University of Wisconsin System into performance and say if you want money, we need you to perform, and particularly in higher education, we need you to perform not just in how many people you have in the classroom," he said. "In higher education, that means not only degrees, but are young people getting degrees in jobs that are open and needed today, not just the jobs that the universities want to give us, or degrees that people want to give us?"
Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson, a Democrat, said that Walker's plan sounds like "social engineering" that would force students to study "what industry wants" rather than what students want.
The Rhodes Trust on Saturday announced the 32 American students named as Rhodes Scholars. They will receive two or three years of study at the University of Oxford. Yale University was the institution with the most winners (7), followed by Harvard University (6). Four institutions -- Cornell and Stanford Universities, and the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy -- had two winners each.
New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts has announced it is closing its branch campus in Singapore. Tisch's dean, Mary Schmidt Campbell, cited “significant financial challenges that have required increasingly unsustainable subsidies totaling millions of dollars per year.” Tisch projects that its total subsidy for the Tisch Asia campus, which opened in 2007, will exceed 30 million Singapore dollars, or about $24.4 million, by September 2013 -- “and will continue to grow.”
“It was never contemplated that Tisch would need to subsidize Tisch Asia to the extent it has,” Campbell wrote. “Neither the leadership at Tisch, the leadership at NYU, nor the Economic Development Board of Singapore would have approved Tisch Asia going forward had it been clear it would have come to the financial state at which it has now arrived, requiring such a large and ongoing level of subsidy.”
The plan is to close the graduate-level campus at some point over the next couple of years, and no earlier than summer of 2014. Tisch has pledged that all students currently enrolled will be able to finish their degrees, either in Singapore or at one of NYU’s other campuses or overseas academic centers.
New Zealand's government is threatening to force Auckland University to admit more engineering students, while the university asserts that it shouldn't be forced to expand some programs and not others, The New Zealand Herald reported. The government has provided more funds to the university for this year, and designated the funds for engineering programs. But the university said that spending all of the money on engineering and other government priorities would have resulted in cuts to other programs.
The University of Maryland at College Park, a founding member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, is along with Rutgers University contemplating a switch to the Big Ten Conference, The Baltimore Sun and other publications reported. Newspaper reports indicated that the board of the University System of Maryland was scheduled to receive a written proposal Sunday about such a move, which, if consummated, would give the Big Ten 14 members. Big Ten officials had said as recently as September that they were contented having grown to 12 members this year, and Maryland officials had said they planned to stay in the Atlantic Coast. But Maryland was one of two institutions to oppose an increase to $50 million (from $20 million) in the fee imposed on members that leave the league. (The increase passed despite Maryland's opposition.) Rutgers is a member of the Big East Conference, which has been raided frequently in recent years.