U. of Oklahoma President Voids Rule Banning Criticism by Band Members

The University of Oklahoma’s president has repealed a policy prohibiting members of the university’s marching band from disparaging the program, The Oklahoman reports.

The president, David L. Boren, rescinded the ban on Friday, the same day full-page advertisements were published in newspapers across the state criticizing the band program and the rule prohibiting public dissent.

“President Boren was incensed when he learned of the band-participation agreement and was disturbed that he had not been told of it by the School of Music,” a university spokeswoman, Catherine Bishop, wrote The Oklahoman in an email.

Members of the University of Oklahoma’s marching band are free to speak their minds about the Pride of Oklahoma by order of OU President David Boren. A full-page newspaper ad criticizing band director Justin Stolarik was published in three newspapers Friday. The ad was presented as a letter to Boren and signed by “The Pride of Oklahoma Students.”

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Amid Uproar Over Arrests, Greensboro Chancellor Announces Retirement

The chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Linda P. Brady, announced on Monday that she would retire next year, but said her decision was not related to faculty protests over the firings and arrests of three former employees, the News & Record reports.

Last month three university-relations employees were fired for using state-owned cameras in a freelance photography business, according to the university. They have each been charged with felonies. In recent days faculty mem…


Faculty at Winona State U. Vote No Confidence in Minn. System’s Chief

Faculty members at Winona State University have voted no confidence in the chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, Steven J. Rosenstone.

The system’s chief marketing and communication officer, Kim Olson, told Minnesota Public Radio that “we have not been formally contacted by any Winona faculty about a vote of ‘no confidence’ or to discuss any concerns that would lead to a vote of this kind.” She also noted that the faculty association on the campus comprises only 28 members.

Winona State’s Faculty Association Senate cited “a recurring pattern of secrecy” among system leaders in the unanimous vote, along with concerns about spending and a lack of student and faculty input in long-term planning.

The university, which enrolls about 8,200 undergraduates, is one of 54 campuses in the system.

This just in: On Monday, October 20, 2014, the Winona State University Faculty Senate expressed strong opposition to recent actions of the MnSCU Chancellor, Steven Rosenstone, by casting a unanimous vote of “no confidence” in his leadership.

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Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Accepts Adjunct Professorship

The average net worth of adjunct professors just got a little higher.

Steve Wozniak, the computing pioneer who co-founded the company that became Apple Inc., has been named an adjunct professor at the University of Technology, Sydney, in Australia, the college said in a news release. It is his first adjunct appointment.

Mr. Wozniak—known as “Woz”—will work with students and staff members in the university’s Innovation and Enterprise Research Laboratory. He has visited the campus only once and is…


MOOC Provider edX Offers First Its Advanced Placement Course

Rice University on Monday launched a free Advanced Placement course in biology, representing the first time that edX—the prominent provider of massive open online courses—has hosted an AP class for high-school students.

edX, which was created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University in 2012, will host further AP courses in the coming months. For example, Boston University and MIT will both offer AP physics courses starting in January.

Rice University launched a free Advanced Placement biology course Monday on a Web site overseen by two other elite schools, a potentially significant milestone for a movement that aims to bring college-level courses to high school students.

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‘Reverse Transfer’ Project Aims to Ease the Way to Associate Degrees

A new project from the National Student Clearinghouse will aim to provide an automated way for students who transfer from two-year institutions to four-year institutions to receive associate degrees.

The “reverse transfer” initiative, which is funded by the Lumina Foundation, will create a depository where the four-year college can send a student’s academic data, which can then be downloaded by the two-year college. A student who has acquired enough credits will receive an associate degree.

The …


Finally! Academics Describe Their Research in Terms We Can Understand

A few weeks ago, The Chronicle Review published an essay by Steven Pinker that took academics to task for their incomprehensible writing.

“In writing badly,” wrote Mr. Pinker, “we are wasting each other’s time, sowing confusion and error, and turning our profession into a laughingstock.” The implication is that academese could use a grand stroke of simplification.

What follows, however, might be taking things a little far.

Researchers took to Twitter over the weekend to rally around the hashtag …


Report on Academic Fraud at Chapel Hill to Be Released on Wednesday

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is about to hear the results of the latest investigation into academic fraud involving athletes there. An independent investigator, Kenneth L. Wainstein, will release his report in a meeting with campus and system leaders on Wednesday.

The much-anticipated study is the third the university has sponsored to find out how bogus classes in which athletes enrolled in large numbers cropped up in the department of African and Afro-American studies. But this is the first of the three to involve cooperation from the two figures who so far have been blamed in the scandal: Julius E. Nyang’oro, the department’s former chairman, and Deborah Crowder, a former manager in the department.

Mr. Wainstein said in June that the investigators had interviewed more than 80 people and gathered more than 1.5 million documents.

A highly-anticipated report into the long standing academic fraud at UNC-Chapel Hill is scheduled to be released Wednesday at a special meeting of UNC officials, the university said Monday. The report is the result of eight months of interviews and records analysis by a group of attorneys led by Kenneth Wainstein, a former top U.S.

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U.S. Cancels Funds for Controversial Studies of Infectious Diseases

The White House announced on Friday that it would temporarily block federal financial support of controversial biomedical research in which scientists seek to learn about the potential dangers of infectious diseases by intentionally making them more hazardous, The New York Times reported.

The move, announced by the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of Health and Human Services, came just weeks after the Obama administration issued regulations permitting such research but requiring stricter federal oversight of it and active disclosure by scientists of the risks inherent in their work.

The Times quoted a White House statement attributing the moratorium to “recent biosafety incidents at federal research facilities,” a reference to mistakes this year by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention involving anthrax, bird-flu, and smallpox samples.

Critics of the research, who have said it could help terrorists or unscrupulous scientists unleash a lethal epidemic, hailed the White House move. The Times was unable to obtain comment from two scientists—Ron Fouchier of Erasmus University, in the Netherlands, and Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin at Madison—who claimed, in 2011, to have created a more easily transmitted strain of a type of bird flu. That discovery set off a controversy over the wisdom of such research, and whether it should be permitted, financed, or published, that continues to this day.

The moratorium is only on research on influenza virus and the coronaviruses that cause SARS and MERS. It made no mention of Ebola or any related filovirus. Ebola is already extremely lethal, but it is not easily transmissible.

No scientist has publicly announced an attempt to make Ebola as easy to transmit with a sneeze as flu is. Given the current panic around Ebola, and congressional anger at federal health agencies, it is unlikely that federal funding for such a project would be given out.

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Supporters of U. of Oklahoma Band Sound Off in Ads Attacking President

Full-page advertisements that were published on Friday in major newspapers across Oklahoma and Texas accused the University of Oklahoma’s president, David L. Boren, and the director of its marching band of creating an “environment of mediocrity and complacency” in the band, and of clamping down on criticism, the Tulsa World reports. The ads, which feature anonymous comments by band members, single out for criticism a policy under which members can be kicked out if they say anything negative about the band.

One critic quoted by the World lamented a decline in “marching and musicality” in the band, whose size has dropped from 280 to 225 members. President Boren, in a written statement quoted by the World, declined to respond to “anonymous personal attacks” in the ads. “It’s a shame that people would waste their money on such ads,” he said, “instead of supporting scholarships for our students.”

Nick Nicholson, a former Pride member who lives in Houston, said Friday’s letter was penned by a group of band students. He helped raise money for the ads, which were placed in at least a half-dozen Oklahoma and Texas newspapers, including the World, The Oklahoman, The Norman Transcript, The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Close to $20,000 was spent on the ads in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Norman, alone, Nicholson said.

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