Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, March 26, 2012 - 3:00am

More than 1,000 Israeli academics -- including many prominent figures in Israel's universities -- have signed a petition calling on the government to stop the process of awarding university status to the Ariel University Center, which offers college courses on a West Bank campus, Haaretz reported. The academics object to the impact such a move would have on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and some question whether the country needs another university. The Ariel campus has been embraced by many in Israel who seek to keep the West Bank (or significant parts of it). Nir Gov, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science and an organizer of the petition, said: "When did the Council for Higher Education decide that another university was needed in Israel? Who said that Ariel is the college that can most efficiently become an official research university in Israel?"

Monday, March 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Civil liberties groups and some students are raising questions about proposed protest rules under consideration by the Seattle Community College District, The Seattle Times reported. An extended Occupy protest at Seattle Central Community College last fall was seen by participants as a great example of public protest, but was an expensive public health challenge for the college. Most of the participants in the Occupy protest were not affiliated with the college. The rules under consideration would, among other things, require outside groups to tell the college 24 hours before a protest and limit the size of protest signs.

Monday, March 26, 2012 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Peter Laipson of Bard College at Simon's Rock discusses the history of bachelorhood. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, March 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Non-English speaking European countries are seeing a major growth in master's level programs in English, according to a new report by the Institute of International Education. The number of such programs in Europe (excluding Britain and Ireland) was 4,644 in 2011, up from 1,028 in 1977. The Netherlands has the greatest number of such programs (812), followed by Germany (632) and Sweden (401). But some countries further down on the list showed the greatest percentage increases in the last year. Italy and Denmark have only 191 and 188 such programs, respectively, but both of those figures are up 33 percent in the last year.

Monday, March 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Allan Golston, president of U.S. programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will be the interim successor to Hilary Pennington, the foundation's director of education, postsecondary success, and special initiatives, a Gates spokeswoman confirmed. Pennington, who steps down at the end of the month, has played a prominent role in the foundation's college completion push over the last five years. Golston will manage the postsecondary success program until a permanent hire for the position is named, the spokeswoman said.

Monday, March 26, 2012 - 4:28am

A new poll shows that nearly two-thirds of California's voters say they support Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to raise the sales tax and levies on wealthier taxpayers as part of the state's solution to its budget problems -- a plan on which another round of big cuts to the state's public colleges hangs in the balance, the Los Angeles Times reported. The survey, by the newspaper and the University of Southern California's Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, found that 64 percent of voters supported the latest iteration of the governor's proposal, which he aims to put on the November ballot, when they are told that the additional revenues will be used to fund public schools, community colleges, and public safety. Brown's budget plan for higher education would keep the public college systems' budgets flat but includes a "trigger" cut of $200 million for the University of California and California State University if the tax plan is not approved.

Monday, March 26, 2012 - 3:00am

President Obama on Friday nominated Jim Yong Kim, president of Dartmouth College, as the next president of the World Bank. In a statement, Kim said: "When I assumed the presidency of Dartmouth, I did so with the full and deep belief that the mission of higher education is to prepare us for lives of leadership and service in our professions and communities. While President Obama's call is compelling, the prospect of leaving Dartmouth at this stage is very difficult. Nevertheless, should the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors elect me as the next president, I will embrace the responsibility." Kim is one of several nominees from which the World Bank's board may choose.

When Kim was selected as president of Dartmouth, his career had been focused on public health. He had been chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard University, and previously had led the World Health Organization's HIV/AIDS program. While Asian-American students and faculty members have made notable strides in American higher education, there are relatively few Asian-American presidents, and so Kim's selection by a college as prominent as Dartmouth was viewed as historic -- and cheered nationally by Asian-American activists.

Monday, March 26, 2012 - 3:00am

About 25 presidents from state colleges and universities met with White House and Education Department officials Friday for another discussion of President Obama's plans to try to make college more affordable. The presidents, who were in Washington for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities' Council of State Representatives meeting, met with domestic policy director Cecilia Muñoz, Deputy Education Secretary Tony Miller and Office of Public Engagement Director Jon Carson, an administration official said. (President Obama, who spent more than an hour with college presidents in a similar meeting in December, was not present.)

Some public college officials had expressed concern about Obama's plans to lower college cost, which include using campus-based financial aid programs to award or punish colleges who raise tuition too much. The president has emphasized that state legislatures have to play a role in keeping college affordable, a concern the presidents discussed in the meeting, said Nasser Paydar, chancellor of Indiana University East.

"We talked about what kinds of things universities are doing and can do to overcome the financial support [issue] without really raising tuition to put a lot of people out of market," Paydar said, adding that he was impressed by the administration's focus on college  issues. "Sometimes the actual words are not that important -- it’s the fact that there’s an emphasis on higher education."

Friday, March 23, 2012 - 3:00am

A student at Florida Atlantic University was physically removed from a class and then tased when she refused to get into a police car, following an in-class outburst that included expletives and statements about hurting people. The incident in class was filmed and posted to YouTube. (Warning: the video contains graphic language.)



A police report on the incident said that the student, a black female, started yelling at the instructor in class, saying things such as "white people suck, Jewish people who think this world is theirs which is not, I will fucking kill you at the Holocaust events all over the world." Many of her remarks involved racial slurs, and she called various people "sand niggers" and "white niggers." The police report said that a Taser was used on her when she refused to get into a police car.

The university released a statement from Charles Brown, vice president of student affairs. "In order to provide for the safety of all concerned, the student had to be physically removed from the classroom by two FAU employees. The FAU Police Department escorted the student off of campus property and transported her to a local hospital.... In light of today’s information, the dean of students is taking immediate action regarding this student." A university spokeswoman, citing confidentiality requirements, declined to say what action was taken.



Friday, March 23, 2012 - 4:24am

Postdoctoral researchers at the University of Massachusetts have overwhelmingly ratified their first contract, with raises and new benefits. The postdocs will gain a 2 percent increase in wages immediately, another 2 percent in September, with 3 percent increases the following two years. Benefits in the new contract include partial reimbursement for child care expenses, paid holidays and sick time equivalent to those offered other employees. In addition, all of those in the bargaining unit will now have health coverage. Prior to the agreement, only about half of the postdocs were covered by the university, according to the union, which is affiliated with the United Auto Workers.



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