Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 27, 2013

Two years after they rescinded a deanship offer to a lesbian, prompting a debate about sexuality at the institution, Marquette University officials have again flip-flopped on their support – this time of a student group – because it was at odds with the Roman Catholic institution's mission and identity. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Marquette’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center is no longer chartering the student-run workshop FemSex, after a student alerted the provost and president to the workshop’s curriculum. Officials say that they were not initially aware of the workshop’s content. The resource center is in its first year, a spokesman said, and is working with administrators to clarify its student program approval process.

The center’s charter states that it “maintains fidelity to the University’s Catholic Jesuit heritage and character by attending to the needs of its students, both social and intellectual, and fostering knowledge and justice on issues having to do with gender and sexuality.” The more potentially contentious contents of FemSex’s curriculum include fostering safer sex, abortion, masturbation, and homosexuality. The group was also scheduled to discuss the intersection of faith and sexuality.

In a statement sent to Inside Higher Ed, FemSex at Marquette co-founder Claire Van Fossen said the workshop does not push an ideology or morality. The group’s mission statement: “FemSex provides a safe space for exploration, encourages honest dialogue, and facilitates collective learning. It engages and grapples with the social forces that inform individual experiences, and seeks to build allyship.” FemSex evolved from unrelated but identically named groups at Brown University and the University of California at Berkeley.
 

February 27, 2013

More than 60 percent of colleges and universities expect the cost of providing residential network computing access to go up, but only 39 percent saw an increase in their budgets in the last year and 10 percent saw a decrease. These are among the statistics in a new report by the Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education and the National Association of College and University Business Officers. The report may be found here.

February 27, 2013

A new institute dedicated to Israel studies has opened in Washington. The Israel Institute, to be led by Itamar Rabinovich, formerly Israel’s ambassador to the United States and the president of Tel Aviv University, was established with funding from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. It plans to fund doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships, research grants, and visiting professorships, as well as fellowships for students enrolled in Israel studies programs at Israeli universities, residences for Israeli artists, and internships at Washington think tanks for policy-oriented Ph.D. candidates. Other planned activities of the institute, including support for academic conferences, are outlined here. The members of the institute's advisory board can be found here

Ariel Ilan Roth, executive director of the Israel Institute, said its goals are to “bring coherence” to the growing but “jumbled” field of Israel studies, and to serve as a source of funding and support for scholars pursuing Israel-related scholarship.

“We want to provide financial and structural opportunities for people to develop a skill-set and to do so under the most rigorous academic conditions,” Roth said. “We’re talking about serious study: we’re not talking about political advocacy, we’re not talking about political lobbying. We’re talking about applying the best tools of academic exploration to whatever aspect of the modern Israeli experience the scholar sees fit to explore.”

Nathan J. Brown, president-elect of the Middle East Studies Association and a professor of politics at George Washington University, said he was pleased to see the establishment of a new scholarly institute dedicated to the region (albeit one country within it): "This is a time when for example, funding for Title VI programs has been cut, so to have new support for anything related to Middle East Studies is good," he said.

February 27, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Samuel Sober of Emory University reveals how birds listen to themselves to get their songs right every time. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


 

February 27, 2013

About 45 percent of 18- to 24-year-old college graduates were living with their families in 2011, up from 31 percent a decade earlier, in 2001, according to an article in The Atlantic based on Census data mined by the Pew Research Center. The Atlantic article (and the compelling graphic that accompanies it) notes that 21 percent of graduates up to 34 years old were living at home in 2011, up from 13 percent in 2011, but that both sets of figures for college graduates are far lower than for all people those ages.
 

February 27, 2013

Wayne State University's faculty union and administration have reached a tentative contract agreement, which will soon be presented to union members for ratification. While officials are not discussing the salary details of the agreement, the union's leaders say that the deal does not include provisions proposed by the university last year that faculty leaders said would have effectively removed the protections of tenure. Professors said that the changes would have allowed for the dismissal of tenured professors any time that the university wanted to make budgetary reallocations. Charles Parrish, president of the faculty union, which is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, said via e-mail that the new contract "does not contain any of the odious proposals that the Administration began bargaining around" with regard to tenure rights.


 

February 27, 2013

The University of Maryland University College on Tuesday announced a partnership with Walgreens that features a 25 percent discount on out-of-state tuition for all employees of the drug-store chain, as well as for their spouses and dependents. The university is also waiving application fees for Walgreens' employees. The company last week announced its Walgreens University, through which employees will have access to several higher education providers. And Walgreens is doubling its spending on employee education.

Partnerships between corporations and institutions with substantial online degree offerings appear to be on the rise, and the new agreement is similar in some ways to the relationship between the American Public University System and Walmart.

February 26, 2013

It's fashionable among some governors and pundits to suggest that the only way for students to get ahead economically these days is to embrace the most utilitarian of majors. So the results of an analysis by Bloomberg Businessweek may be of interest. The magazine wanted to see which undergraduate colleges produced the students with the highest GMAT scores at the top 114 M.B.A. programs. The college whose graduates scored highest and ended up in the leading business schools is an institution where you can major in ancient history, film studies or anthropology, but not business. Swarthmore College topped the list. To be fair, those at some of the other institutions on the top 10 could have majored in business or related fields. Also of potential interest: 6 of the top 10 were colleges outside the United States. They include three in India, one in Canada, one in China and one in Britain.

 

February 26, 2013

Wayne Watson was hired as president of Chicago State University in 2009 over strong objections of faculty members, who noted that he had clashed with professors while leading the City Colleges of Chicago. Board members, however, said that he would improve enrollment figures and repair ties with the faculty. On Monday, the university announced Watson was leaving. Enrollment has dropped and the faculty voted no confidence in him last year, The Chicago Tribune reported. Board members said that they felt the university needed new leadership. Watson did not comment. He was midway through the fourth year of a five-year contract, and will now receive a one-year sabbatical at his $250,000 salary.

 

February 26, 2013

The government of the United Arab Emirates on Monday released a statement explaining its decision to briefly detain Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, who teaches government at the London School of Economics and Political Science, when he arrived in Dubai for a conference his institution co-sponsored with the American University of Sharjah. He was barred from entering the country and was sent back to Britain -- at which point the London School of Economics called off the conference. Ulrichsen said he believed he was kept out because he has written critically about the government of Bahrain, and the government statement essentially confirmed this.

The statement: "Dr. Coates Ulrichsen was scheduled to speak on the current political situation in Bahrain. The UAE is a strong supporter of efforts by the Government of Bahrain and the opposition parties to resolve their situation through peaceful dialogue. Dr Coates Ulrichsen has consistently propagated views de-legitimizing the Bahraini monarchy. The UAE took the view that at this extremely sensitive juncture in Bahrain's national dialogue it would be unhelpful to allow non-constructive views on the situation in Bahrain to be expressed from within another GCC state. This decision in no way reflects the strong ties with both the AUS and LSE and their academic excellence, however, in this very specific case, it was important to avoid disruption at a difficult point in Bahrain's national dialogue process which we fully support."

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