Category Archives: higher education

April 22, 2014, 7:42 am

Department of — Assassins?

thEveryone on Facebook is complaining about grading. But at least you aren’t worried about character assassination, or actually being assassinated. You aren’t the chair of the French Department at Oberlin, where one faculty member is suing a colleague for making multiple false claims that he was plotting to kill a third faculty member, that he brought a relative to the United States and falsified his academic credentials to embed him as a killer for hire, and — now there is undoubtedly some very strict language about this in the faculty handbook –that he tried to pay his TA to marry him.

You can also thank your lucky stars that you are not the Dean of the Faculty at Oberlin, wondering how this case got to court in the first place. As Kaylee Remington of the Lorain, Ohio Morning Journal reported last week,

a lawsuit filed April 17 in Lorain County Common Pleas Court, Ali Yedes, who…

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April 14, 2014, 9:57 am

No Speech, No Preach: VCC System Rethinks First Amendment Rights

funnyprotestsignsstreet_people_protesting-s1024x683-41186-580In response to a lawsuit filed by a student at Thomas Nelson Community College, the Virginia Community College system has suspended its restrictive campus speech policies until May 2. The Associated Press reports that Christian Parks was barred from preaching in any location but a “free speech zone:” attorneys on both sides have asked for the suspension until new policies and procedures can be worked out.

Demonstrating that Democrats can be just as repellant as Republicans when it comes to misinterpreting the Constitution, Virginia Governor Terry McAwful McAuliffe signed legislation on April 4 that essentially criminalizes student demonstrations by allowing the public university system to establish restrictive “free speech zones.” These obscure areas, far from administrative buildings, mimic municipal restrictions that confine protesting citizens to small areas far from the event or…

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March 30, 2014, 1:58 pm

Random Bullets of (Fill In the Blank)

1980sa-520x343Aaaaaand…..here we go.

  • The latest from Tenured Radical’s Book Blog, a project of thinking and writing a book out loud, “Which Side Are You On?” sketches a few thoughts on what we assume about a researcher’s choice to explore a contentious topic.
  • I am one of two people in my March Madness Fantasy Bracket to have picked Wisconsin to win.
  • In other research news, we have a new study on whether porn hurts children. Answer? No one knows! How do people keep getting funding for this research? Produced by the office of the Children’s Commissioner for England, the study is actually not about children, it’s about teenagers, which is also old news. The older kids get, the harder it is to gin up uncritical public concern for them. A second point worth mentioning is the focus said teenagers’ consumption of, or exposure to, pornography which might (or might not!) affect their sexual…

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March 26, 2014, 11:55 am

Should Academic Online Behavior Go to Court?

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Imagine if Daffy Duck had email, Twitter and Facebook.

Here’s an interesting case that has been percolating along for some time and should be of interest to all of us in the academic blogosphere. Raphael Haim Gold, 54, who is the son of Norman Golb, as New York Times reporter John Leland puts it, “a controversial Dead Sea Scrolls scholar,” has been successfully prosecuted for impersonating and harassing other scholars who have found fault with his father’s scholarship. The conviction is now being heard on appeal.

For reasons that remain somewhat mysterious, Golb Junior defamed his father’s intellectual detractors for three years via various forms of Sock Puppetry and Internet impersonation.  As Leland writes:

Mr. Golb’s online campaign was chiefly directed at his father’s most bitter rival, Lawrence H….

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March 11, 2014, 10:15 am

Oh Brave New World

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Have administrators at Columbia’s Mailman School considered closing their budget gap with a bake sale? Maybe asking faculty to shill gift wrap and ginormous candy bars door to door?

That has such people in it.

Here’s a novel way to lighten the burden of paying faculty salaries: make them figure out how to pay their own salaries! As Inside Higher Ed reports, Columbia University has notified several longterm non-tenure stream faculty in the Mailman School of Public Health (including Carol Vance and Kim Hopper) that they will be terminated for not meeting 80% of their salaries with outside funding.

According to CNNMoney.com, in 2013 the university had the ninth largest endowment in the United States, at $8.197 billion dollars.

Read the article: I could only garble this story more by trying to recapitulate it….

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March 7, 2014, 5:06 pm

Dept. of Untenured Radicals: Santa Cruz Students on the March

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Photo credit: Indybay.org/

Beginning at 3:00 Pacific Time on Wednesday March 5, students at UC Santa Cruz occupied an administration building. When they left the following morning, under their own steam, they chanted “We’ll Be Back!” They probably will: they’ve done it before. Good for you, young people: I thought it was creepy to put someone whose specialty is Homeland Security and border control in charge of a school system too.

Here’s what they want:

1. We demand the resignation or impeachment of Janet Napolitano as
UC President immediately.

2. We demand that next and all future UC presidents be someone who:

a) is elected by students and faculty;
b) has an extensive and positive background in education;
c) works towards completely eliminating student debt through
full subsidization;
d)…

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February 21, 2014, 11:15 am

It’s Friday Night. Is Your Kid At A Frat?

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How can your kid be hurt at a frat? Let us count the ways. Graphic is from The Atlantic

Even if you are a Caitlin Flanagan h8ter, read her cover story in this month’s Atlantic about how dangerous college fraternities are, to your daughters, your sons, and to you.

There’s always a downside to a Flanagan article: the excessive gesture to whatever theory keeps her recognizable as a conservative. For example, it seems almost mandatory for right wing writers to assert that college is all play and no work, and that student leisure is an expensive, wasteful university marketing ploy. This works to obscure the fact that that wealthy donors would rather have their names on buildings than lower tuition anonymously. It neglects the fact government at all levels has Hoovered public dollars out of public and private…

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February 8, 2014, 6:13 pm

Tackling Hunger On Campus

food stampsI was glad to see this article by Peg Tyre about Franklin and Marshall College’s efforts to recruit and retain low income students. “Poor students who are accepted into selective four-year universities often find themselves adrift,” Tyre writes, ”overwhelmed by the financial, academic and cultural challenges created by an environment shaped to serve the habits and needs of the wealthy” (The New York Times, February 5, 2014).

Full disclosure: I happen to like this little liberal arts college in Lancaster, PA, a 45-minute Amtrak ride from Philadelphia. Years ago, I was part of a visiting committee at F&M, and I returned to consult on a second project. Each time, I found it a thoughtful place. I was impressed by the care that faculty took with their students (want to work at F&M? Guess what? When I visited, faculty were expected to be at the office five days a week, like other people…

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January 9, 2014, 2:03 pm

Downton Abbey — With Job Candidates

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Mr. Carson; photo credit

John Hodgman’s spoof, “Downton Abbey — With Cats,” (The New Yorker, January 13 2014), has it exactly right. The season premiere of this popular, snooze-inducing update of Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-1975) has finally been reduced to its essence: clothing, manners, food and estate management. There is no longer a plot, nor is there really much of a script. It is not possible, for example, to issue spoiler alerts, as nothing happened in the premiere to season 4 that aired on Sunday. Nothing. You can watch it and go to bed with nothing on your mind.

This does not mean that we learn nothing from Downton, however, even though you would become a great deal more educated about the cultural history of post-war England from Bertie and Jeeves. For example, unless you have taken Modern British…

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October 20, 2013, 11:41 am

Cheaters: And The Cheating Cheat Factories That Help Them Cheat

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Cute, cynical Dave.

Dave Tomar, The Shadow Scholar: How I Made a Living Helping College Kids Cheat  (New York: Bloomsbury, 2012), $16.00 paper; $9.99 ebook.

Reading this book solved a small mystery in my teaching career.

Every once in a while, even without Turnitin.com, a paper screams: “plagiarized!!!!” About a decade ago, I received one of those papers. Only partly coherent, grammatically idiosyncratic sentences were sutured to others that flowed beautifully, delivering a punchy argument that the rest of the paragraph had lurched towards in an often obscure way. What I suspected was something called “mosaic plagiarism,” in which the students’ own writing is used as filler in between quotes lifted from books that have no quotation marks around them.  I went to the library to check a couple of the books…

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