Higher Education Quick Takes
Following storms that hit its campus Saturday, Shaw University announced that it was ending its semester immediately, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. Students will be graded for the semester on the work they have done thus far. Several buildings were damaged on the campus, and 150 students have been displaced. Many institutions in the area lost power at least temporarily and warned students to stay inside during the storm.
Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, has repeatedly denied that he is trying to influence the direction of Texas colleges in ways beyond the periodic proposals of new ideas or appointing board members. But The Houston Chronicle, based on public records requests for e-mail messages between the governor and university officials, reported that the governor has been pushing an agenda. Among the ideas he has promoted are measuring faculty members' "productivity" through course enrollments, and linking faculty compensation to student evaluations.
The Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, founded to educate medical professionals to serve in the low-income parts of Los Angeles and in similar areas, appeared recently to be in dire financial shape. But The Los Angeles Times reported that the university has in recent months stabilized financially and is moving toward naming a new president.
"60 Minutes" on Sunday challenged the veracity of parts of Three Cups of Tea, a book that appears on numerous college syllabuses. The book, by Greg Mortenson, talks about his efforts to build schools for girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- and many colleges have assigned the book as a common text for all freshmen to read, making Mortenson a regular on the college lecture circuit. According to "60 Minutes," Mortenson's charity has claimed credit for creating schools that don't exist and his story about how he was inspired to this cause by getting lost on a mountain-climbing expedition is false. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle quoted Mortenson as defending the accuracy of his book and his foundation's efforts. But the article also said that he admitted that the story of how he got the idea was based on "a compressed version of events."
The Collegian, the student weekly at La Salle University, left the top of its most recent edition blank, to protest a ban from the university on coverage of a recent scandal at the top of the page, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The newspaper, it turns out, had the story of the scandal -- a business professor being investigated for hiring strippers to appear in class and, according to some reports, performing lap dances -- before other media outlets. But the student journalists say they were initially barred from any coverage. An editorial in The Collegian explains: "We didn’t publish a story because we weren’t allowed. This begs an explanation and a confession: the La Salle Collegian is not a real newspaper. It is a student newspaper, more specifically, a student newspaper at a private university. As you may infer, the differences are astronomical." A La Salle spokesman did not respond to an e-mail inquiry asking for comment.
Donald Green is executive vice president of instruction and student services at Florida State College at Jacksonville, a job that pays $166,000. And as The Florida Times-Union reported, he's also working 15-20 hours a week as a consultant at Essex County College, in New Jersey, which has paid him $46,000 over the last six months. Faculty members at Essex have raised questions about Green's work there, but Steven Wallace, president of Florida State College, said he wasn't concerned as long as Green is doing his second job on his own time. Green said he uses vacation time and off hours for all of his work for Essex.
The April 2011 edition of The Pulse podcast features an interview with Ray Henderson, president of Blackboard Learn, talking about future directions for Blackboard's teaching and learning division and the key differences for faculty between Angel and Blackboard 9.1. Find out more about The Pulse here.
The board of Brookdale Community College is considering a suit against its former president, Peter Burnham, following a review of an audit uncovering questionable expenses, The Star-Ledger reported. Among the expenses for which Burnham was reimbursed in apparent violation of district policies: a $1,300 trip to Arizona, $109 in golf clothing and $53 in drinks at a Philadelphia steakhouse. Burnham recently resigned after being placed on leave. He has not commented on the inquiry into his spending.
A group of economics and law professors has urged the Justice Department to investigate whether the Bowl Championship Series violates federal antitrust law, The Wall Street Journal reported. The letter to the department's antitrust division, which was signed by 21 professors and lawyers, asks the agency to find college football's current mechanism for determining a national champion to be a cartel that favors BCS members over other college teams.