Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Monday, June 28, 2010 - 3:00am

Sarah Palin made her controversial appearance Friday at a fund-raising dinner of the foundation of California State University at Stanislaus. Pro-Palin and anti-Palin protesters held rallies outside, but she spoke without incident, the Los Angeles Times reported. Critics said that Palin was too divisive a figure and too expensive ($75,000 plus expenses) to be the focus of a university fund-raising event. University officials defended the selection, saying she would draw a (paying) crowd, which she did. After expenses, the university has at least $200,000 from the event for scholarships and other programs.

Monday, June 28, 2010 - 3:00am

Erskine College and the leaders of its sponsoring denomination, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, have reached a compromise over control of the college, The Greenville News reported. Under the compromise, a church order to remove many trustees will be lifted, while various lawsuits will be dropped. Some church leaders have been frustrated by what they see as a failure of the college to uphold religious teachings, while many faculty members and alumni are concerned that the church leaders were trying to limit academic freedom. Erskine recently named a new president, David A. Norman, who has said he believed compromise was possible.

Monday, June 28, 2010 - 3:00am

Mark Robinson, vice chancellor of student development at the City College of San Francisco, has filed a suit accusing Chancellor Don Griffin of blocking him from getting a college presidency in Arizona by refusing to answer a recruiter's questions, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The suit also accuses an associate dean of calling Paradise Valley Community College and telling people there that he was being investigated for sexual harassment and embezzlement. Sources at the college told the newspaper that Robinson was investigated for sexual harassment, but not embezzlement. Robinson -- who has been placed on leave -- says that an investigation cleared him and that he wants to return to work. But college officials say that the inquiry only cleared him of violating federal laws, and that the investigation did not reach a final determination. The board chair said: "Right now, he's still an employee. He hasn't been cleared ... and he hasn't been dismissed."

Monday, June 28, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief in the current lawsuit over gender equity in athletics at Quinnipiac University, suggesting skepticism of the university's claim that "competitive cheer" should be counted as a sport -- which would help the university argue that it is meeting its obligations to female athletes under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The brief does not rule out the possibility that the activity could be a sport, but suggests close examination of whether the squad and its competitions are treated in ways comparable to other sports.

Friday, June 25, 2010 - 3:00am

The president of the Louisiana State University System on Thursday warned that the budget may be cut by 23 percent next year when federal stimulus funds run out, WAFB News reported. Cuts of that magnitude could include the elimination of academic programs and layoffs of tenure-track and tenured faculty members, he said.

Friday, June 25, 2010 - 3:00am

An analysis by USA Today has found that college towns experienced more economic growth during the economic downturn that did many other localities. College towns -- despite cuts in college budgets -- continued to attract students, faculty members and research grants (with some additional funds coming from stimulus programs), the article noted.

Friday, June 25, 2010 - 3:00am

A worldwide analysis by Nature of the salaries of men and women in academic science has found that men’s salaries were 18 to 40 percent higher in countries for which there were significant sample sizes -- Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Spain and the United States. The general pattern was for salary gaps to grow over the course of careers, with men's salaries starting to gain relative to women in the three-to-five year period after the start of a career in Europe and after six years in North America.

Friday, June 25, 2010 - 3:00am

East-West University, which is facing a union drive by its adjuncts, is planning to offer them big raises. A spokesman confirmed that the university plans to offer adjuncts without a Ph.D. a 13 percent increase in the fall, and those with a Ph.D. a 20 percent increase. According to the spokesman, the raises have nothing to do with the union drive, but are the results of a faculty review of adjunct pay at other Chicago institutions -- and the realization that East-West had fallen behind. The university has been facing criticism for new policies that officially notified adjuncts that they had no work this summer and that they would need to interview with the chancellor to obtain teaching assignments in the fall. Organizers of the union, which aims to affiliate with the National Education Association, believe these shifts were designed to delay a union vote, but the university denies this. One union organizer called the planned raises "window dressing."

Thursday, June 24, 2010 - 3:00am

A federal appeals court on Wednesday overturned a lower court's 2008 decision that shielded the Apollo Group, Inc., from a jury's $277 million verdict against it in a shareholder lawsuit. The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit essentially reinstated the jury's 2008 finding that a group of stockholders in the parent company of the University of Phoenix were harmed by the company's approach to disclosing information about a critical government report. Although the jury called for Apollo to pay $277.5 million in damages, a federal judge overturned that verdict in August 2008, ruling in Apollo's favor. But in its ruling Wednesday, which Apollo critiqued, the Ninth Circuit appeals panel said that the lower court judge had "erred" and that the damages award should stand.

Thursday, June 24, 2010 - 3:00am

The 80-hour maximum work week (based on a four-week average) wouldn't be changed under proposed rules for medical residents issued Wednesday by a committee of the Accrediting Council for Graduate Medical Education. The committee said that the maximum was not inherently dangerous to medical care, as some critics have charged. At the same time, however, the committee did propose other changes, including a limit of a 16-hour day for first-year residents and more detailed instructions on the direction that must be provided to first-year residents. The Association of American Medical Colleges issued a statement praising the new recommendations.

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