Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Louisiana at Monroe has agreed to a former business school administrator -- and to revise hiring procedures to longer consider retiree status -- to settle an age discrimination suit, The News Star reported. The agreement, which ends 14 years of legal fighting, does not involve an admission of guilt by the university.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - 3:00am

The National Endowment for the Humanities has apologized to a grant recipient who was told by the director of an NEH-financed seminar in Europe that she had 12 hours to demonstrate that she had adequate child care arrangements in place for her son or she would lose her spot. The plight of the woman, a single mother, was first reported on the blog Feminist Philosophers and then spread elsewhere online. When Inside Higher Ed asked the NEH about the situation last week, officials said that they would investigate, but that the situation as described was not consistent with endowment policies.

An NEH spokeswoman, via e-mail, said Tuesday that the investigation by the endowment determined that the report "was, unfortunately, true. NEH has accepted full responsibility and apologized to the professor involved. We believe we are in the process of resolving the issue to her satisfaction. We have assured her that she is welcome to attend the institute to which she applied and, at her request, we have also extended the deadline to make it possible for her to apply for another seminar if she so chooses." The spokeswoman added: "Asking an applicant to provide information regarding child care was inappropriate and should have had no bearing on the selection process. Qualified applicants who tell the NEH that they will participate full time in our programs should be taken at their word. We erred and are determined that it will not happen again."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - 3:00am

A new study has found that almost half of undergraduates at a Northeastern university use indoor tanning beds, and that those who do tend to use alcohol and marijuana and to experience symptoms of anxiety, CNN reported.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - 3:00am

First Syracuse University students organized to protest the selection of Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., as commencement speaker, citing the controversies over the finance industry. Now students at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs are organizing against the selection of their graduation speaker: Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup. Pandit is a Columbia trustee, with four Columbia degrees (from divisions other than the public affairs school). A Facebook group called "We don't want a bank executive to speak at our commencement" explains the opposition this way: "We want people who did not take part in the financial crisis, who did not rely on massive bailouts to save their money making industry and that are actually helping the poor and the less fortunate of society be better off. Bank CEOs should go speak at the B-school commencement, not at SIPA."

One student told The New York Daily News that Pandit "represents an industry that, even when it was stable and not in crisis, paid itself outrageous salaries." And another said that students would have preferred to hear from Stephen Colbert, Bill Clinton, or Hillary Clinton.

John H. Coatsworth, dean of the School of International and Public Affairs, shared with Inside Higher Ed material from the e-mail responses he has been sending students who have questioned the choice. His e-mail notes that more than a third of the school's graduates work in the private sector, many of them in the finance industry.

As for Pandit, Coatsworth wrote: "Vikram Pandit took over at Citigroup after the crisis hit, reduced his own salary to one dollar per year, and designed the recovery strategy Citi has followed since. He is unusually thoughtful and forthright on the role of Citi and other banks leading up to the crisis, most recently in testifying before Congressional committees. Citigroup has repaid all of the $45 billion in TARP funds it received from the U.S. government; recent estimates indicate that the U.S. government will earn a profit of $8.2 billion when it sells all the Citigroup stock it acquired in exchange for its aid. I think that students and their families will find Mr. Pandit, who favors better regulation of the banking industry, to be an unusually interesting graduation speaker, perhaps quite different from what some would have anticipated. He accepted our invitation in part, I am sure, because of his long standing commitment to Columbia, but I think he also accepted because he wants to promote dialogue with future leaders, not only of the private sector, but also of the public institutions that regulate finance, and the NGOs that provide forward-looking solutions for the diverse issues of the 21st century."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a law banning the creation or sale of videos that showed dog fights of depicted various forms of animal cruelty, finding the law an unconstitutional infringement on the First Amendment. While the focus of the law was far from academe, the College Art Association and other academic groups opposed the law on the grounds that it went beyond barring acts of animal cruelty to banning depictions -- and that could interfere with free expression.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday amended its ruling from February that revived a Title IX lawsuit against the University of California at Davis -- and the revised opinion maintains the key finding reviving the suit, saying that Davis had failed to submit sufficient evidence for a lower court to dismiss the suit. The suit -- under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 -- was brought by women whose participation on the wrestling team was ended, and focuses on the tests to determine whether a university is expanding athletic opportunities for women.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - 3:00am

Prairie View A&M has disbanded its chapter of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity for violations of hazing rules and state law -- violations linked to the death of a student in October, The Dallas Morning News reported. The student, who had a medical condition that placed him at risk, collapsed during an intense exercise drill. A university report found that the fraternity tried to cover up its role in the tragedy, instructing students to deny that any fraternity members were present.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - 3:00am

A provision in the new health care law would make young adults eligible to be covered by their parents’ insurance plans through age 26 -- but the measure won't take effect until late September. Because the new law won't be in force when a new crop of graduates leave college -- and fall off their campus health plans -- in May, the Obama administration is asking insurers to voluntarily bridge the potential gap in students' coverage. In a letter to insurance companies Monday, Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, urges them to let such young adults remain on their parents' health care policies rather than force them off the plans only to let them re-enroll in September when the new law takes effect. Several leading insurance companies have already agreed to that approach, Sebelius said. "This action would enable young, overwhelmingly healthy people, who will not engender large health care costs, to stay in the insurance pool and retain important insurance coverage," she said.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - 3:00am

An anonymous reviewer on Amazon's Web site known for her harsh attacks on some historians exempted the historian Orlando Figes, and it's now clear why. The Associated Press reported that the reviewer in question was Figes's wife, Stephanie Palmer. A lawyer for Figes has denied that he knew anything about the identity of the (until now) unknown author.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday heard oral arguments in a high-profile case involving the University of California's Hastings College of Law and a Christian student group, and the dispute appeared to leave the justices deeply divided, according to numerous news reports. USA Today, for instance, reported that the justices seemed divided on ideological grounds, with liberal judges appearing to side with the law school's desire to prevent discrimination by refusing to recognize a student group that keeps out gay students and non-Christians, and conservative judges backing the religious group. But the newspaper said several justices at times argued that the case had not been sufficiently developed in the lower courts.

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