Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, December 9, 2011 - 3:00am

Virginia Tech, where the tragedy of shooting deaths is known too well, again experienced that trauma on Thursday afternoon. Students and others were encouraged to stay wherever they were -- with activities called off -- after a police officer was shot at a routine traffic stop. Reports followed of another dead body and of a search for the killer. By the end of the afternoon, news reports said that the second body was the shooter, and the university said that normal activities could resume. Final exams that had been scheduled for today have been postponed for a day.

Late Thursday, Virginia Tech identified the police officer who was killed: Deriek W. Crouse, 39, who with his wife was raising five children and step-children. He was an Army veteran who had worked for the university since 2007.

 

Friday, December 9, 2011 - 3:00am

An article in Science explores how some Saudi universities are building their research reputations in nontraditional ways. King Abdulaziz University has hired more than 60 top researchers in the sciences, at nice salaries for part-time work, if they agree to list the university with their other institutions in identification lines in journal articles. The idea is that rankings of citations will show a sharp increase for the university. King Saud University is working to recruit researchers to affiliate in loose ways so that their discoveries will be linked to the university. Some academics quoted in the article said that they feared such efforts would detract from the real advances being made by Saudi universities.

Friday, December 9, 2011 - 3:00am

Larry Sager has been scheduled to step down of the law school of the University of Texas at Austin at the end of this academic year. But The Austin American-Statesman reported that he was forced to resign Thursday, following complaints from faculty members about the allocation of funds. The disagreements centered on the use of funds from the law school's foundation.

Friday, December 9, 2011 - 4:35am

Sara Jayne Steen, the president of Plymouth State University, sent an e-mail to students telling them they could skip classes today if they wanted to stay off campus to avoid a pro-gun protest, the Associated Press reported. Opponents of the university's gun ban have vowed to hold a protest today, and to attend the protest with loaded guns. The university plans to enforce its ban.

Friday, December 9, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Hollis Seamon of the College of Saint Rose explains the modern resurgence of fairy tales as a literary genre.  Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Most department chairs and most faculty members at Columbia University's engineering school have signed letters of no confidence in Dean Feniosky Peña-Mora, The New York Times reported. While top administrators are backing the dean, faculty members say that he has broken deals he made with various departments, particularly on issues of space allocation. Peña-Mora told the Times that the culture at Columbia "takes some getting used to."

Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Datatel and SunGard Higher Education announced Wednesday that the U.S. Justice Department has cleared a proposed combination of the two companies. Both companies are major players in providing back-office software and a range of other services to colleges and universities. The planned merger was announced in August, but needed government approval to proceed. The companies anticipate a formal combination early in 2012.

 

Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 4:25am

Rob Francis, the head baseball coach at St. Petersburg College, was arrested Tuesday after authorities said he drove to a meeting in Orlando he set up with someone who identified in a chat room as a 14-year-old girl, The Orlando Sentinel reported. In fact, there was no 14-year-old but a police officer. Francis was charged with two felony counts of obscene communication and transmission of harmful material to a minor via an electronic device. The college has placed Francis on leave and barred him from campus.

 

Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 4:27am

As expected, the University of Texas at Austin on Wednesday formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear an appeal of lower court rulings upholding the institution's right to consider race and ethnicity in admissions decisions. Those challenging the Texas policies argue that because the university has attracted diverse students with a race-neutral approach (admitting those in the top 10 percent of their high school classes), Texas should not be permitted to consider race. The university argues that the lower courts got it right in that some level of success in one diversity strategy does not preclude a university from adopting other strategies to enhance diversity. The Supreme Court is likely to announce early next year whether it will hear the case, which would be its first consideration of affirmative action in higher education since 2003.

 

Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Dominik Guess of the University of North Florida explains how an individual’s approach to problem solving is shaped by cultural attitudes. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

 

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