Business leaders in Louisiana are working with Gov. Bobby Jindal on a plan to grant considerable autonomy to Louisiana State University's flagship campus at Baton Rouge, with the goal of helping the campus improve academically at a time of limited state support, The Times-Picayune reported. The plan would grant LSU exemptions from many state requirements and give it increased freedom on setting tuition rates.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Robert L. Harris Jr. has resigned as director of the Africana Studies and Research Center following a move by the university to situate the center as part of the College of Arts and Sciences. The faculty of the center posted a statement of opposition to the change on the program's website, saying that they were "appalled" by the decision, which they said was made without consulting them, and without any evidence that the change would be good for the center. The statement applauded the "principled" decision of Harris to resign his administrative post. Supporters of the center are planning a protest today, saying that the autonomy of the center -- which until now has reported directly to the provost, independent of any other unit at Cornell -- was in danger. Kent Fuchs, the provost, issued a statement in which he said that the new organizational structure would provide more support for the center, link it more closely to relevant academic disciplines, follow a model used by other leading universities and allow for the creation of a doctoral program. "In its new academic home, Africana studies will retain its faculty, staff, and North Campus facility, and receive the critical academic and administrative support that a college is best able to provide, including a plan to increase the number of its faculty, for which I have committed the necessary resources," the statement said.
Enrollment declines are forcing Calvin College to eliminate 20 full-time positions, The Grand Rapids Press reported. Next year’s enrollment is projected to be 3,902, down from 3,991 this year and more than 4,200 in 2007. Officials said that they could not continue to balance the budget with small cuts and salary freezes.
Students and faculty members at West Chester University of Pennsylvania were alarmed by posters that recently appeared for a new organization for white students. But The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that campus officials investigated, and found that there is no such group. A spokeswoman said that the posters were put up in "a very innocent and naive attempt to create some sense of activism," and that students just "wanted a reaction" that would get everyone talking.
Bill McCartney, former head football coach at the University of Colorado at Boulder, is apologizing for comments he has made about gay people -- and the apology has come as he has expressed interest in his old job, which is now open, The Boulder Daily Camera reported. In the past, McCartney has described homosexuality as "an abomination against almighty God," and the Daily Camera reported that some people urged Colorado not to rehire someone with such views. Now, McCartney said that he is not against any group. "The Bible says the whole gospel is found in the first two commandments, and those commandments are love God and love your neighbor as yourself," McCartney said. "What I regret is that I did not communicate that. I don't judge the gay community, and anybody who gets the impression that I do, that's just not the truth. I didn't communicate that well that day, and I regret that. I ask the forgiveness of anyone who thinks I judged them or look down on them. I don't."
Leaders of the American Anthropological Association, facing criticism from some physical anthropologists and other scholars over dropping the word "science" from the organization's plan for the future, have issued a statement saying that the controversy has been exaggerated. "We believe that the source of the problem speaks to the power of symbols: we replaced the term 'science' in the preface of this planning document by a more specific (and inclusive) list of research domains, while explicitly acknowledging that the Association’s central focus is to promote the production, circulation, and application of anthropological research findings," says the statement from the organization's officers.
Stacey Brook, an economist at the University of Iowa, has developed productivity rankings for college football teams (for both offenses and defenses) that he believes do a better job of ranking teams than does the much-debated methodology used to place teams in the Bowl Championship Series. The economist's formula uses 17 statistics, including yards gained, number of first downs, touchdown scoring percent, number of offensive plays, missed and made field goals, and turnovers. Information about the system may be found here and current rankings using this system (which differ considerably from the official rankings) may be found here.
A court in Ireland has ruled that a lecturer at University College Cork should not be punished for sexual harassment for having shown a female colleague a paper on the sex life of fruit bats, The Irish Times reported. The court ruled that imposing sanctions in the case was "grossly disproportionate." The university had ordered the lecturer to undergo counseling and to be monitored for two years.
Iowa Republicans, who are about to control the state House of Representatives, are calling for public universities to stop awarding sabbaticals, saying that the state can no longer afford them, the Associated Press reported. "It seems to be tough budgetary times. Why should the taxpayers of Iowa be paying to basically give these folks a year off from teaching?" said Kraig Paulsen, who is about to become speaker of the House. Edwin Dove, president of the Faculty Senate at the University of Iowa, said that while on sabbaticals in 2009, professors wrote 26 books; published 147 research articles; created and updated nearly 100 classes; and submitted 50 grant applications.
Faculty members everywhere complain about students who text in class, but professors at Wilkes University decided to measure the extent of the practice. Deborah Tindell and Robert Bohlander, psychology professors, surveyed 269 students anonymously. Among the findings:
- 95 percent of students bring their phones to class every day.
- 91 percent have used their phones to text message during class time.
- Almost half of respondents said it was easy to text in class without instructors being aware.
- 99 percent said they should be permitted to retain their cell phones while in class.
- 62 percent said they should be allowed to text in class as long as they don’t disturb their classmates. (About a quarter of the students stated that texting creates a distraction to those sitting nearby.)
- 10 percent said that they have sent or received text messages during exams, and 3 percent admitted to transmitting exam information during a test.