Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 15, 2014

A federal judge has ordered the U.S. government to remove the name of Rahinah Ibrahim, a professor and dean of the architecture and engineering school at the University of Malaysia, from the no-fly list, the Associated Press reported. Ibrahim maintains that she is on the list by mistake, while federal officials have said that national security would be endangered if they were forced to reveal why people are on the list. Ibrahim has been barred from the United States since 2005, when she tried to attend an academic conference in Hawaii.


January 14, 2014

By 2016 California community college students will need to maintain certain academic performance standards to remain eligible for fee waivers, according to a policy approved this week by the community college system's Board of Governors. The fee waivers eliminate the relatively affordable tuition of $46 per credit that the system's 112 colleges charge. But to remain eligible under the change, students will be required to maintain a 2.0 GPA for two consecutive terms. They will also lose access to the state subsidy if they fail to complete half of the credits they attempt in a semester.

The new standard is a part of a broad array of changes the system made in response to the recommendations of a state task force, which the board approved in 2012. System officials said the colleges are also planning to offer more academic counseling and support to students.

"We will do everything in our power to help students on financial aid succeed, but students need to know that they have a responsibility to keep up their end of the bargain,” Brice W. Harris, the system's chancellor, said in a written statement.

January 14, 2014

With Utah unexpectedly at the center of a new fight over state bans on same-sex marriage, articles in The New York Times and elsewhere have explored how the state is trying to defend its ban. One unexpected argument is to cite Grutter v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court's 2003 ruling upholding the right of public colleges to consider race in admissions. "Society has long recognized that diversity in education brings a host of benefits to students," says Utah's brief to the Supreme Court, citing Grutter. "If that is true in education, why not in parenting? At a minimum, the state and its people could rationally conclude that gender diversity -- i.e. complementarity -- in parenting is likely to be beneficial to children. And the state and its people could therefore rationally decide to encourage such diversity by limiting the coveted status of 'marriage' to man-woman unions." If this argument should go anywhere, it could present interesting challenges for Supreme Court justices like Antonin Scalia (a fan of gay marriage bans who dislikes the Grutter decision) and Ruth Bader Gisburg (a fan of the Grutter decision who dislikes gay marriage bans).


January 14, 2014

Aleeha Dudley, who is a blind student, has sued Miami University in Ohio, charging it with violating her rights under federal laws to access to educational materials. With support from the National Federation for the Blind, Dudley's suit charges the university with, among other things, failing to provide her books in Braille and with using course management tools that do not give her access to information (as other tools would). Her suit says that her grades suffer as a result, and the federation says that her difficulties are similar to those faced by many blind students. Miami officials have declined to comment on the specifics of the suit, but have denied wrongdoing.


January 14, 2014

A survey of faculty salaries by Al-Fanar finds that public university professors in much of the Middle East struggle to climb into the middle class. While of the 12 countries examined, Lebanon and the Gulf countries had the highest public university salaries and Yemen and Morocco the lowest, Al-Fanar found that in every country surveyed “a proportion of the salary scale was below the wage needed to be able to live a middle-class lifestyle when weighted by local purchasing power, specifically what is known as ‘purchasing power parity,’ or how far the professors’ wages could stretch in the local economy.” 

“This survey gathered enough data to show what has long been complained about but not necessarily verified -- that professors in the Arab world overall do not make enough, despite their extensive education, to live a middle-class lifestyle, making teaching at a public university an unattractive profession,” Al-Fanar reported. “The findings also illustrate why so many academics migrate to better-paying countries when they can and also why many take on second and third jobs and promote their textbooks, tutoring lessons or consulting businesses.”

January 14, 2014

The University of California at Berkeley's chancellor has appointed Claude L. Steele, the I. James Quillen Dean of Stanford University's education school, as the flagship public's executive vice chancellor and provost. With the appointment by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, which awaits the formal approval of the University of California's regents, Steele will once again be a major university's top academic officer.

He served as provost of Columbia University from 2009-11 before returning as education dean to Stanford. where he had built his career as a social psychologist best known for his theory of "stereotype threat." Dirks worked with Steele at Columbia, where he was executive vice president and dean of the college of arts and sciences.

"Claude is a world-class scholar, an extraordinarily gifted administrator, and a visionary leader with a deep commitment to teaching, innovation and collaboration," Dirks said. "He is uniquely qualified to help sustain and expand our public mission and ethos, maintain our academic excellence and access and advance on our commitment to diversity in every sense of the word. We look forward to welcoming him to Berkeley."

January 14, 2014

The University of Illinois at Chicago is investigating allegations that Angela Henderson, currently interim provost of Chicago State University, plagiarized her nursing Ph.D. dissertation, The Chicago Tribune reported. The Tribune had three experts on academic integrity review the dissertation and sources on which it drew. "The experts said Henderson had errors in attribution that violate the UIC College of Nursing's policy on academic integrity included in the student handbook," the newspaper reported. "In her dissertation, Henderson at times uses verbatim or near-verbatim language from other sources without using quotation marks to tell the reader that it is identical. Her citations include the author and year of publication but not the exact reference or page number as required by UIC's policy."

Tricia Bertram Gallant, editor of the book Creating the Ethical Academy: A Systems Approach to Understanding Misconduct & Empowering Change in Higher Education, said, "These are repeated issues. It is not sloppiness here or there, or plagiarism here or there, it is quite often."

The Tribune also noted that a member of Henderson's dissertation committee was Wayne Watson, president at Chicago State, with whom Henderson previously worked. Henderson's husband is Watson's personal lawyer.

Henderson declined to comment.


January 14, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s attempt to become a party to a lawsuit regarding the rights of the NCAA and other entities to use athletes’ “likeness” for video games, publicity purposes and other materials. The NCAA had sought to intervene in a settlement stemming from a lawsuit in which a group of athletes, led by the former Arizona State University quarterback Sam Keller, sued Electronic Arts Inc., Collegiate Licensing Company and the NCAA over the likeness issue. After a federal appeals court ruled against EA last fall, EA asked the Supreme Court to review the case. Shortly thereafter, though, EA and CLC reached a settlement with Keller. (The NCAA remains a defendant.) EA subsequently announced it would no longer produce the popular NCAA Football video game.

The NCAA subsequently sought to enter the appeals case “in light of the important First Amendment issues raised in the case and to ensure that its membership is properly protected given the purported settlement between the plaintiffs and Electronic Arts,” NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said in October. With the Supreme Court's decision, this case essentially dies.

January 14, 2014

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art has announced a donation of 320 works of art from the  collection of Dorothy and Herbert (Herb) Vogel. The Vogels are legendary in the art world for the way they built up a significant modern art collection, identifying works they could afford to buy on modest salaries and that became extremely valuable. The gift to Bowdoin includes works by 70 artists, including Robert Barry, Lucio Pozzi, Edda Renouf, Julian Schnabel, James Siena, Pat Steir and Richard Tuttle.


January 14, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Anandasankar Ray of the University of California Riverside explains how mosquitoes are able to track us down from great distances. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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