All posts by Nick DeSantis


How Reviews on ‘Rate My Professors’ Describe Men and Women Differently

Easy or demanding? Boring or engaging? And what about homework?

The student-evaluation site Rate My Professors contains a huge stockpile of information about what college students think of their instructors. And thanks to a new tool created by a Northeastern University professor, those millions of reviews can be mined to reveal students’ biases about male and female professors.

Benjamin M. Schmidt, an assistant professor of history at Northeastern, spoke to The New York Times about his interacti…


The New School Will Drop Fossil-Fuel Stocks and Focus on Climate Change

The New School has decided to drop its investments in fossil-fuel stocks and reshape its curriculum to focus on climate change, The New York Times reported. The institution plans to explore ways to reduce its carbon footprint and to teach students to design for a sustainable future.

Climate change, said the New School’s chief operating officer, Tokumbo Shobowale, is “a wicked design problem.” Shifting the curriculum across all of the school’s disciplines, he said, is a way to go beyond divestment, a step that he said drew skepticism at first from many faculty members.

“A lot of people said this is not going to make a difference in terms of hurting these companies or hurting their ability to conduct oil and gas exploration,” he said about the divestment plan.

Still, he added, divestment can be used as a teaching tool — economics students are studying the companies in the school’s $340-million endowment and their practices to help devise principles to add some nuance to their decisions about which stocks to keep or sell.

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Gay Student Quits Gordon College Panel Examining Same-Sex Policies

A gay student at Gordon College, in Massachusetts, has resigned from a campus committee that is examining the Christian institution’s policies on homosexuality, the Boston Business Journal reported.

Jesse Steele, a 21-year-old senior, posted online a resignation letter in which he raised concerns about the composition of the working group, saying it was not inclusive enough.

The college’s policies on homosexuality have been in the spotlight since its president, D. Michael Lindsay, last year added his name to a letter from religious leaders asking President Obama to grant a religious exemption to a rule forbidding antigay discrimination among federal contractors. In September the college’s accreditor, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, gave the institution a year to review its policies.

Rick Sweeney, a spokesman for Gordon College, described Steele’s comments as his “personal perspective.”
“It’s not one that’s shared by other members of the group,” Sweeney said .
Sweeney said that, as a member of the working group, Steele’s role was to “advocate for” the other sexual minorities who were not present at the meetings and may not even be present on Gordon College’s campus.

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U. of California to Require Measles Shots for New Students

The University of California system announced on Friday that it would require incoming students to be vaccinated for measles and other diseases, under a plan that is set to take effect in 2017, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The system said that it currently requires students to be vaccinated against Hepatitis B only, although several of its campuses have additional requirements. The announcement stated that, by 2017, the university would require incoming students “to be screened for tubercul…


Talent Agency Blacklists U. of Oklahoma After Student Paper Publishes Musician’s Contract

[Updated (2/7/2015, 3 p.m.) to include a statement from the musician's management company.]

The talent agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment has refused to allow its musicians or artists to perform at the University of Oklahoma, after the student newspaper at Oklahoma published a contract rider for the rock musician Jack White, who performed there this week.

The rider included a recipe for guacamole (“we want it chunky,” it said) as well as a warning against providing the artist with bananas, among other stipulations reminiscent of a classic scene from the movie This Is Spinal Tap.

An employee of the talent agency sent the adviser of the campus-activities council an email stating that William Morris would not book further events “until this policy is modified not to disseminate private information.” The employee was said to have been referring to the state’s open-records law.

Monotone Inc., Mr. White’s management company, said in a written statement on Friday evening that it was “untrue” that the artist or his management had blacklisted the university (the student paper said Mr. White’s booking agency had done so). The statement called the “incidents” with the paper “unfortunate, unprofessional, and very unwelcoming.”

The artist’s management added that, “contrary to what some believe, Jack doesn’t write the rider nor make demands about his favorite snacks that must be in his dressing room. We’re not even sure he likes guacamole, but we do know that the folks who work hard to put on the show do enjoy it.”

When The Daily reached out to WME, a representative declined to comment.WME representatives told CAC representatives to confirm with The Daily that the agency has blacklisted OU and that the agency would not speak with The Daily.

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Jury Awards $400,000 to Professor Laid Off by Clark Atlanta U.

A jury in Fulton County, Ga., has awarded $300,000 in damages and $105,000 in legal fees to a tenured professor who was laid off from her job at Clark Atlanta University, according to the Daily Report, a publication focusing on legal news in the Atlanta area.

Deborah Cook, a biology professor at the historically black institution, was one of dozens of faculty members who were laid off in 2009 as enrollments plummeted. The American Association of University Professors later censured Clark Atlanta


Former Professor Pleads Guilty to Defrauding U. of Kentucky

Dongping (Daniel) Tao, a former engineering professor at the University of Kentucky, pleaded guilty on Thursday in federal court to one felony count of wire fraud in connection with allegations that he defrauded the institution out of more than $62,000. He resigned before being confronted with the allegations.

As part of a plea agreement, he agreed to repay $62,000 to the university and a private company he worked for.

“Dr. Tao has accepted responsibility for his mistake and he intends to pay the money back,” attorney Kent Westberry said after Tao’s hearing Thursday. “He has and will continue to be a productive citizen. He just wants to get on with his life.”

Tao answered yes and no to the judge’s questions but made no further comment.

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2 Die in Apparent Murder-Suicide at U. of South Carolina

Two people died on Thursday in what officials described as a murder-suicide at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health, The State reported.

The names of the deceased had not been disclosed officially as of Thursday evening. But the newspaper said that Raja Fayad, an associate professor and head of the applied-physiology division in the school’s department of exercise science, had been shot to death. The identity of the shooter had not been made public.

“Sadly, a shootin…


2-Year College’s President Is Accused of Plagiarism

The president of a two-year college in Minnesota has been accused of plagiarizing her dissertation amid faculty criticism of her decision making, the Pioneer Press reported.

A post published on Wednesday on a blog known as Save South Central College purports to show evidence of plagiarism by an unnamed campus leader in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. The newspaper said the passages matched the dissertation of Annette Parker, president of South Central College, a two-year in…


California U. of Pa. Plans Reforms for Its Troubled Football Program

California University of Pennsylvania will require student-athletes to report when they are arrested outside the local community, among other reforms, following the release of an independent report on the institution’s troubled football program, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The university said it would take a series of actions including re-examining its drug-testing policies and convening a panel to review “high-risk” transfers and other football recruits.

Last fall the university asked…