Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Phoenix is eliminating 700 jobs through layoffs, primarily in admissions departments, the university's parent company, the Apollo Group, announced Monday. “In recent months, we have accelerated the shift in our approach to student admissions, and have refined our business model. These staffing reductions are intended to better align our operations with these business decisions," a Phoenix official told Barrons.com.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

Texas Christian University, in Fort Worth, Tex., accepted an invitation Monday to join the Big East Conference, effective summer 2012. TCU will become the conference's 17th member institution and the ninth to play football. The Big East primarily spans the Rust Belt, from the eastern portion of the Midwest into the Northeast. TCU will join the University of South Florida, which joined the conference in 2005, as the other geographical outlier in the conference. Many critics believe the TCU-Big East deal was struck to ensure that Texas Christian gains and the rest of the conference maintains their status as "automatic qualifiers" for the Bowl Championship Series, the controversial system that helps decide the national title winner in the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-A). This year, TCU's football team finished with a perfect 12-0 record in the regular season, but it still may not have the chance to play for a national title because it is a member of the Mountain West Conference, a "non-automatic qualifier." Monday's announcement follows a tumultuous season in college football in which many major conferences expanded beyond their traditional geographic boundaries, primarily for economic reasons.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

Hundreds of teaching assistants at the University of California have vowed to vote against a tentative contract deal negotiated on their behalf by their union, which is part of the United Auto Workers, The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported. Five members of the bargaining team for the union have endorsed the drive to reject the contract. The contract would provide some gains in pay and benefits, and the union leaders and its dissenters differ on whether those gains go far enough. The union's website offers reasons to approve the contract, while this site offers reasons to reject it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal of a federal appeals court ruling that upheld the right of Virginia's alcohol regulatory board to ban alcohol-related advertisements in student newspapers. The appeals court reversed a lower court's ruling, and its decision conflicts with one from a different appeals court, which in 2004 found a similar ban in Pennsylvania to be in violation of the First Amendment. Student newspapers have opposed such bans both on First Amendment grounds and for practical reasons (alcohol ads are a good revenue source for many publications).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

A federal review panel is backing the claim of the Hoonah T'akdeintaan clan, a Native American group, that it is entitled to the return of a collection of 40 or so objects in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Anchorage Daily News reported. The objects have been housed at Penn for decades, but clan members say that the collection includes sacred objects. Penn has offered to return eight objects and to co-curate the remainder with clan members, but they are pushing for the return of the full collection. A Penn spokeswoman said that she was disappointed by the federal panel's ruling backing the Hoonah T'akdeintaan claim on the collection, and that the university remained hopeful of working out a mutually agreeable resolution.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

The Universities of Cambridge and Oxford and other British institutions have been hiring a number of leaders in recent years from American universities. Today Tufts University announces that its next president will be Anthony P. Monaco, pro-vice-chancellor for planning and resources at Oxford and a noted neuroscientist who identified the first gene specifically involved in human speech and language. He will succeed Lawrence S. Bacow next summer. Before his appointment as pro-vice-chancellor, Monaco was director of Oxford's Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics, now the largest externally funded, university-based research center in Britain. While the next Tufts president has spent 20 years at Oxford, he is a native of Wilmington, Del., who grew up in modest circumstances as the son of a plumber and was a first-generation college student at Princeton University.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

With the new Antioch College preparing to hire its first faculty members, the American Association of University Professors is reiterating its call for the college to turn to some of those who lost their jobs teaching at the Antioch College that was shuttered by Antioch University. A letter sent by the AAUP to the new college on Monday noted that while the college is correct that it legally is not the same entity that eliminated the faculty jobs, there may be still be obligations to those faculty members. "[T]he new college continues to invoke not only the history and legacy of the old institution and to bear the name and goodwill of the old, but to benefit from many of the tangible assets of the historic Antioch College, including the alumni, the campus and facilities, and the substantial endowment. The faculty of the old Antioch College, including those faculty who were laid off, were at the core of creating and sustaining those assets. Thus we believe that such benefits entail certain continuing responsibilities to those long-standing employees who are qualified for and remain available for positions in the new college -- especially the tenured faculty," says the letter. It goes on to note concern that at least one trustee leader may believe that donors would object to hiring those who were laid off by the university.

Antioch responded with a letter of its own, saying that it would welcome applications from the faculty members who worked for the previous institution, but that it was important to do broad searches to fill the positions. "We are grateful that the American Association of University Professors recognizes that Antioch College is a different legal entity from Antioch University. It is, therefore, inconsistent for the association to support a process of employee 'reinstatement' for those the AAUP asserts were 'laid off' by Antioch University," the college's letter says. "Despite the commitment of its trustees and leadership to the fundamental value of academic tenure, consistent with the AAUP 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the decision of the college to move forward with a faculty hiring process that both embraces equal opportunity employment practice and fundamentally protects the new institution against charges of discrimination and favoritism in hiring has not, as of yet, met with public support from the AAUP."

Monday, November 29, 2010 - 4:46pm

College boards at public and private institutions are still dominated by men, and about half of members have business backgrounds, according to two reports released Monday by the Association of Governing Boards. The survey of more than 700 institutions found men outnumbered women by more than two to one at both public and private colleges, noting that boards were about 70 percent male at private colleges and about 72 percent male at public institutions. More than 49 percent of public trustees come from business, compared with 53 percent with business backgrounds at private colleges. There has been a small shift in other areas of diversity since 2004. The membership of private boards was 11.9 percent racial and ethnic minorities in that year, compared with 12.5 percent in 2010. At public institutions, racial and ethnic minority representation grew from 21.3 percent to 23.1 percent during the same period.

Monday, November 29, 2010 - 3:00am

Students in Italy have been staging a series of dramatic protests across Italy -- breaking into the Italian Senate, sitting on railroad tracks, and so forth -- to protest government plans to reform higher education, The New York Times reported. Researchers have joined the protest, sleeping in sleeping bags on the roofs of some universities. The anger is over the lack of funds that has resulted in chronically overcrowded classes, the potential for new cuts, and government plans that critics say will make the problems worse. The government says its plans would provide financial rewards to institutions that perform well.

Monday, November 29, 2010 - 3:00am

Facing a $32.1 million debt, Hebrew College will sell its campus, featuring a building by the noted architect Moshe Safdie, The Boston Globe reported. The Massachusetts college offers a range of programs in Jewish education and religion. The college will still need private donations to retire its debt. Officials said that they regretted having to sell the campus, but decided that they needed to take steps to have financial stability. The college -- which has more than 1,400 students -- will lease space from the Andover Newton Theological School.

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