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A New Era? The Outlook for U.S.-Cuba Academic Relations

A new era in U.S.-Cuba relations was ushered in on December 17th when the presidents of both countries announced they were prepared to end nearly six decades of estrangement. I had nearly lost hope that in my lifetime there would be a rapprochement between my adopted nation and the island where I was born and which I left 55 years ago with my parents.

I have made the study of my homeland my academic career, so I could not be more thrilled about the prospect of a normalization of relations. I als…

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New Rankings Paint a False Picture of Arab Universities

Even people who complain that university rankings do not provide very useful information are still inclined to look at them.

On many levels, rankings appear valid: Princeton (ranked first by U.S. News & World Report, seventh by Times Higher Education) is really good; Rutgers (ranked 70th and 144th, respectively) is just plain good.

Recently, however, two university rankers decided to venture into new territory by ranking universities in the Middle East. U.S. News released its list of Best Arab R…

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Gagged in Kansas? Bill Would Deny Free Speech to Public-College Employees

Oh Dorothy, we are indeed in Kansas. Under a bill pending in the state’s Legislature, public-college and public-university employees in Kansas would be barred from using their official titles in newspaper opinion articles written in their capacity as private citizens.

The bill would prohibit public postsecondary employees in the state from “providing or using [the] employee’s official title when authoring or contributing to a newspaper opinion column.” But … don’t worry. The restrictio…

The Silencing of Harvard’s Professors

Today Harvard faces a serious governance problem that requires institutional change. When we first came here, the university was organized on the constitutional principle: “Each tub on its own bottom.” This meant first of all that each of the component schools (arts and sciences, medical school, law school, and so on) had not only a high degree of budgetary independence but also that its faculty and dean had a large measure of autonomy. And at the level of the schools such administrators as ther…

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Let This Satirical Campus Newspaper Live

In 2007, a group of students at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln fought to establish the first satirical newspaper on the campus. Eight years and nearly 70 issues later, the paper still hits the newsstand every other week. Recently, however, a committee charged with allocating student fees proposed defunding it — saving students a mere 15 cents annually — for the one reason that scares and baffles me the most. “While it does create a number of opportunities for students,” the commit…

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Welcome to Ohio State, Where Everything Is for Sale

I’m excited to announce that my university has changed its motto. Out with the old and in with: “Omnia Venduntur!

Our old motto,Disciplina In Civitatem,” or “Education for Citizenship,” just sounded so, you know, land-granty, so civic-minded. It certainly doesn’t capture our new ethos of entrepreneurial dynamism and financial chicanery. Besides, the state legislature here, dominated for years now by the GOP, hasn’t been interested in either education or citizenship for a long time.

So instead…

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Professor Non Grata: Andrew Ross on Collusion and Delusion

Across the board, faculty have been skeptical of their college administrators’ enthusiasm to build campuses in illiberal societies, like China and the Gulf states. What agreements have been made to smooth the way? How much money is changing hands as part of the deal? Who will oversee the curriculum design? And, above all, who can guarantee that basic protections for academic freedom will be honored in countries where dissenters are locked up, physically abused, and deported on a regular basis?

T…

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Teaching While Black

“There will never be a nigger SAE … You can hang him from a tree, but they will never sign with me … There will never be a nigger SAE.”

That vile chant has reverberated in my head throughout these last couple of days. And as it has, my thoughts have drifted to the students, particularly the minority students, who attend the University of Oklahoma, who have sat in classes with the young men who so proudly and gleefully chanted those disgusting words. I doubt that this type of ignorance, this rac…

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The Chilling Effect of Mandatory Reporting of Sexual Assault

Imagine that you are a college freshman who has summoned the courage to seek advice from a trusted professor. But when you review the course syllabus you find a warning, in bold type, that your professor is required to report the content of any conversation that might indicate the occurrence of sexual violence, or any kind of gender discrimination, on campus. This is precisely what could happen at a growing number of college campuses. Moreover, in most cases, the institution reserves the right t…

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Don’t Divide Teaching and Research

We excel, in the research university, at preparing our students to do world-class research — everywhere except the classrooms in which they teach. From the beginning we insist that Ph.D. applicants explain their research plans. When they arrive we put them through their paces in methodology classes, carefully taking apart their ideas of what they want to accomplish and introducing them to the hard work of gathering data, performing analyses, testing and retesting hypotheses, and exploring all …