Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - 3:00am

University College London has fined a student £300 for starting FitFinder, a Web site the student has since abandoned that lets students flirt with one another, The Times of London reported. The student started the site at his university and it quickly became a hit among students across Britain. University College London officials said that they received complaints from other universities that the site was distracting students and so urged the student to bring it down and fined him for "bringing the the college into disrepute."

Friday, May 28, 2010 - 3:00am

Brandeis University -- amid widespread criticism -- backed off a plan last year to sell some or all of its acclaimed collection of modern art. Now the university is working with Sotheby's to rent out pieces of art, The Boston Globe reported. Details of the plan are still being developed. The article noted that loans from one museum to another are typically not made for money-making purposes, but that some museums have sought to raise funds by lending out portions of their collections.

Friday, May 28, 2010 - 3:00am

Arab-American and civil rights groups are protesting the treatment by Israel of Abeer Afana, a student at Wayne State University who last week was refused entry into Israel at its main airport and was returned to the United States, the Associated Press reported. Afana is a U.S. citizen who was traveling for a study abroad program, using her U.S. passport. But Israeli officials said that because she once held a Palestinian passport, she would be permitted entry only via a land route from Jordan.

Friday, May 28, 2010 - 3:00am

Florida Southern College's board declared a moratorium on awarding tenure in 1971. But as The Ledger reported, a new strategic plan includes tenure as a means to attract top faculty members. This month, the board awarded eight faculty members tenure -- the first such promotions since the moratorium.

Friday, May 28, 2010 - 3:00am

The House Armed Services Committee included language in its version of the military authorization bill that raises questions about the Human Terrain System, a controversial program in which social scientists are embedded with military units -- and suggests that funds could be cut off for the program if the Pentagon doesn't take certain actions. Military leaders have said that program provides the military with valuable expertise, but many social scientists have said that they are being asked to sacrifice disciplinary ethics to take actions that might hurt groups they study.

The report from the committee says: "While the committee remains supportive of the Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS) to leverage social science expertise to support operational commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is increasingly concerned that the Army has not paid sufficient attention to addressing certain concerns. The committee encourages the department to continue to develop a broad range of opportunities that leverage the important contributions that can be offered by social science expertise to support key missions such as irregular warfare, counterinsurgency, and stability and reconstruction operations. The bill limits the obligation of funding for HTS until the Army submits a required assessment of the program, provides revalidation of all existing operations requirements, and certifies Department-level guidelines for the use of social scientists."

Leaders of the American Anthropological Association, which has been outspoken in its criticism of the program, praised the House committee's action. The Senate has yet to take such action.

Friday, May 28, 2010 - 3:00am

Two of the gay presidents of colleges and universities -- Raymond Crossman of the Adler School of Professional Psychology and Charles Middleton of Roosevelt University -- have invited their fellow gay and lesbian presidents (now about 21) to meet in Chicago in August for a first gathering of such college leaders. The presidents hope to discuss advocacy efforts on behalf of gay students, faculty members and administrators.

Friday, May 28, 2010 - 3:00am

Scholarly groups cheered when U.S. officials lifted visa denials -- widely seen as ideologically motivated -- that prevented the scholars Adam Habib and Tariq Ramadan from coming to academic meetings in the United States. But some have feared that others may still be being excluded. Sidonie Smith, president of the Modern Language Association, recently sent a letter to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state, calling for the end to all such visa denials. "[I]n the interest of open inquiry and scholarly collaboration, the MLA urges you to cease the practice of denying entry visas to academics and scholars on ideological grounds," the letter says. "Former MLA President Stephen Greenblatt succinctly stated the MLA’s position in these matters: 'Truth-seeking depends upon dialogue. The advancement of knowledge depends upon more people around the table, not fewer. Excluding scholars because of the passports they carry or because of their skin color, religion, or political party corrupts the integrity of intellectual work.'"

Friday, May 28, 2010 - 3:00am

The Education Department has published Condition of Education 2010, its annual compendium of (just about) everything you'd want to know about the state of American education. The publication contains a wealth of previously published data about undergraduate, graduate, and adult education.

Friday, May 28, 2010 - 3:00am

Leaders of the House of Representatives made their appointments this week to the Education Department's accreditation advisory committee, fleshing out the membership of the newly reconstituted National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity in a way that makes it hard to imagine the panel will ever agree on anything. House Democrats appointed the presidents of three public colleges and universities, while House Republicans selected the presidents of two for-profit colleges and a top official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Congress killed the last iteration of the panel in the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act, but planned for its re-creation in different form, with appointees by both branches of Congress as well as the Education Department. The panel has not met since 2008, but the department announced in April that the committee would meet in mid-September.

The 18 members of the committee, and their sponsors, are:

  • Benjamin Allen. president, U. of Northern Iowa (House Democrats)
  • Bruce Cole, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (Senate Republicans)
  • William E. (Brit) Kirwan, chancellor, University System of Maryland (House Democrats)
  • Arthur Keiser, chancellor, Keiser University (House Republicans)
  • Daniel Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education (Senate Democrats)
  • Earl Lewis, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, Emory University (Education Department)
  • Anne D. Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (Senate Republicans)
  • William Pepicello, president, University of Phoenix (House Republicans)
  • Susan Phillips, provost and vice president for academic affairs, State University of New York at Albany (Education Department)
  • Michael Poliakoff, former vice president for academic affairs and research at the University of Colorado system (Senate Republicans)
  • Arthur Rothkopf, vice president and counselor, U.S. Chamber of Commerce (House Republicans)
  • Jamienne Studley, president and CEO, Public Advocates Inc., and former president, Skidmore College (Education Department)
  • Aron Shimles, student, Occidental College (Education Department)
  • State Rep. Cameron Staples of Connecticut (Senate Democrats)
  • Larry N. Vanderhoef, former chancellor of the University of California at Davis (Senate Democrats)
  • Carolyn Williams, president, Bronx Community College (House Democrats)
  • Frank Wu, professor, Howard University Law School (Education Department)
  • Frederico Zargoza, vice chancellor of economic and workforce development, Alamo Colleges (Education Department)
Thursday, May 27, 2010 - 3:00am

Anger continues to grow over the decision of Middlesex University, in Britain, to shut down philosophy programs. In the latest escalation, critics from around the world are now pledging a boycott of the university, saying that they will refuse to act as outside examiners for Middlesex or to attend meetings at the university. A university statement on the controversy may be found here.


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