Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, September 20, 2010 - 3:00am

Pennsylvania State University on Friday announced its largest gift ever -- $88 million that will finance the construction of a hockey arena and the creation of a Division I men's hockey team. The university also will create a Division I women's hockey team.

Monday, September 20, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is getting a lot of questions about why it called off the scheduled broadcast premiere of a documentary, "Troubled Waters," which is about the Mississippi River and produced by the university's natural history museum, The Star Tribune reported. University officials say that they delayed the broadcast -- which was to have taken place on the Twin Cities public television station next month -- so that faculty members could review the documentary for possible issues of accuracy and balance. But those involved in the documentary say that it was fact-checked thoroughly. Parts of the documentary focus on environmental problems created by chemicals used by farms -- and that material is expected to be controversial.

Monday, September 20, 2010 - 3:00am

Many students at Purdue University are angry about the latest installment of a regular feature in The Purdue Exponent, the student newspaper, WLFI reported. The feature is a cartoon, "Sex Position of the Week," and the latest such cartoon is being viewed by many as suggesting that rape is such a position. The student journalists say they never intended to condone rape, but students who created a Facebook group called "Tell Purdue Exponent Advocating Rape is NOT OKAY" believe that's exactly what the newspaper did.

Friday, September 17, 2010 - 3:00am

President Obama on Thursday said in a statement that he would support efforts to use a defense spending bill as a vehicle to pass the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for many college students who have been in the United States for years -- typically brought by their parents at young ages -- without legal documentation to allow them to stay. Many political leaders have argued for keeping the DREAM legislation -- arguably one of the less controversial parts of immigration reform -- in an overall package of changes in immigration laws. The statement issued by the White House stressed that Obama still supported comprehensive immigration reform but that he was getting behind the idea of moving on DREAM first. "The president noted that it is time to stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents, especially when those youth grew up in America and want to serve this country in the military or pursue a higher education they have earned through academic excellence," said the statement.

Friday, September 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Student journalists at Southwestern College, a community college near San Diego, say that the administration is trying to block them from publishing controversial election-related articles by invoking an old rule to require them to seek bids on their publishing contract, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The college has not enforced, for at least 15 years, a policy requiring the paper to seek bids before signing a printing contract, but the college now says that the paper may not be printed again until a bidding process takes place. The students say that this is an attempt to squelch them, but college officials say they just discovered the rule -- and they note that students can publish online.

Friday, September 17, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of California is routinely ignoring its own policies on proxy votes involving stocks in its endowment, according to an investigation by Bay Citizen, a nonprofit journalism organization whose work appears in The New York Times. The university's rules require a case-by-case analysis on proxy measures involving social issues, but the analysis found that the university appears to routinely vote against measures that would seem to require such an analysis -- without evidence of a study having taken place. Melvin Stanton, the university’s associate chief investment officer, told the Bay Citizen: "Our focus is doing what is best to improve the financial wherewithal of a particular company,” adding that "we’re not really focusing on social issues.”

Friday, September 17, 2010 - 3:00am

The chancellor of the University of New Orleans is out of a job -- though he and the president of the Louisiana State University System offered different perspectives on whether he jumped or was pushed. The LSU System announced Thursday that its president, John V. Lombardi, had accepted the resignation of Timothy Ryan, chancellor of the New Orleans institution since 2003, and that Lombardi and a team of system officials and local board members would oversee the campus until a successor is named. Later Thursday, Ryan held a news conference at which he told reporters that he had been called to Lombardi's office and "fired" because he "would not allow the LSU System to run UNO as a branch campus of LSU in Baton Rouge." The LSU system released a letter in which Lombardi said he was accepting a recent offer by Ryan to resign. Ryan admitted at the news conference that he had made such an offer, but said he had done so only after essentially being forced out. The LSU system is facing significant budget cuts, and the system's statement said that the interim management team would "conduct a thorough, top-to-bottom review of UNO's strengths in preparing to manage the difficult budget process" over the next year.

Friday, September 17, 2010 - 3:00am

The Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow community colleges to offer bachelor's degrees in nursing, culinary arts, maritime technology and concrete technology, The Detroit News reported. Community colleges in Michigan argue that there is demand for these programs and that they can expand existing offerings without additional state funds. But as the legislation moves to the Senate, many four-year universities are opposing the measure.

Friday, September 17, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Wyoming is not going to adopt a policy on guest speakers, despite recent controversies involving some invited to the campus, The Star-Tribune reported. Some have suggested the university needs a policy in light of its decision to stop an appearance by William Ayers, the former Weatherman leader who has gone on to a career as an education professor. But Tom Buchanan, the university president, on Thursday reiterated that he stopped that appearance because of safety concerns, not because of criticism of Ayers. While a federal judge went on to say that the decision was inappropriate, Buchanan defended it. "For me -- perhaps not for you, but for me -- it was a safety issue," Buchanan said. "I did what I thought was right, knowing that a judge and many others, on and off campus, might disagree."

Thursday, September 16, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has overturned the arson conviction of Briana Walters for an attack on a horticulture laboratory at the University of Washington, The Seattle Times reported. The appeals court ordered a new trial for Walters, of the Earth Liberation Front, saying that the judge in the trial -- who has since died -- improperly allowed some evidence into the trial and failed to question jurors about whether they were exposed to news about the case. "While the evidence against Waters may have been sufficient to sustain her conviction, our review of the record does not leave us convinced that her conviction was fairly obtained," the decision granting a new trial said.

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