All posts by Jennifer Ruark


U. of Texas President Is Told to Quit or Be Fired

The University of Texas at Austin’s president, William C. Powers Jr., has been told he must resign or be fired when the university system’s Board of Regents holds a scheduled meeting on Thursday, according to several Texas news outlets.

The system’s chancellor, Francisco G. Cigarroa, reportedly delivered the ultimatum to Mr. Powers last week, and the president refused. Mr. Powers did say, however, that he was willing to discuss a timetable for his departure.

Although esteemed on the campus, Mr. …


Earning Doctorate During Recession ‘Boosts Productivity’

Take heart: New research shows that scholars who earn Ph.D.’s during a recession are more productive in the long run—at least in the field of economics.

Michael Boehm, a researcher at the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance and Bonn University, looked at data from the top 30 universities in the United States from 1955 to 1994.

He found that among students of economics, those who completed their Ph.D.’s during a recession went on to produce comparatively more research during their careers, “a fact attributed to the stiff competition for jobs and a need to prove themselves.”

Read more at:


Duncan Sets Disputed Fine Against Virginia Tech at $5,000

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has decided that a disputed fine against Virginia Tech—one of two levied for safety violations during the 2007 shooting rampage on the Blacksburg, Va., campus—should be $5,000, not a higher amount sought by an office within the Education Department, according to a statement released on Friday and reports by the Associated Press and The Roanoke Times.

The penalty is in addition to a $27,500 fine Mr. Duncan approved against the university in December 2012. Both…


U.S. Names 3 Universities as Test Sites for Drones

Three universities are among the six sites selected by the federal government to test drone aircraft, according to a statement released on Monday by the Federal Aviation Administration. They are: the University of Alaska system, Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, and Virginia Tech.

According to The New York Times, the kinds of aircraft to be tested include tiny helicopters that could be used to inspect power lines, and Styrofoam planes that could fly over fields to look for agricultural pes…


Gore Vidal Left His Entire Estate to Harvard

Harvard University, whose budget deficit in the 2013 fiscal year rose to $34-million, according to The Boston Globe, appears to be in store for a windfall that will more than cover it: The writer Gore Vidal changed his will shortly before he died to leave his entire fortune—estimated at $37-million—to Harvard, The New York Times reports. Nina Straight, Mr. Vidal’s half sister, is challenging his will, saying that Mr. Vidal was not mentally competent when he changed its terms.

Mr. Vidal’s fortune, according to Ms. Straight, is estimated at $37-million; representatives for the estate would not confirm this or any other details about the will. …

Harvard has not yet been drawn into the case. “The university has been provided with notice of an interest under Mr. Vidal’s testamentary plan and is aware of ongoing proceedings related to it, but is not involved in those proceedings and awaits resolution of all issues,” a spokesman said in a statement.

Read more at:


Mass. College President Is Grilled on Spending, Again

Evan S. Dobelle is under scrutiny again. Massachusetts officials are asking why Mr. Dobelle, the president of Westfield State University, put personal expenses on university credit cards and stayed in luxury hotels during overseas travel. In 2004, Mr. Dobelle was ousted from the presidency of the University of Hawaii, amid complaints that included prolific spending on travel and the refurbishment of the presidential house. In 2007 he was appointed to the Westfield State presidency by a unanimous vote. He told the Associated Press on Friday that his spending had helped the university and “was strategically planned.”

Westfield State University president Evan Dobelle said he had no intention of leaving his job even as top state education officials voiced dismay Friday over reports he spent lavishly while traveling in school business and used university credit cards for personal expenses.

Read more at:


Syracuse U.’s Departing Chief Will Lead Rutgers Branch Campus

Nancy Cantor, the departing president and chancellor of Syracuse University, will be named chancellor of Rutgers University’s Newark campus, The Star-Ledger, a New Jersey newspaper, reported.

In an interview with The Star-Ledger, Ms. Cantor seemed to acknowledge that moving from the presidency of a major private university to run a branch campus in a troubled state system was a surprising decision. “I wasn’t on the lookout for a new presidency for myself,” she said, but she described Newark’s ra…


Education Dept. Names New Deputy for Community Colleges

As deputy assistant secretary for community colleges, he will work in the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, which focuses on career, technical, adult, and correctional education across the country, with a special emphasis on programs involving community colleges.

North Seattle Community College President Mark Mitsui has been selected to serve as deputy assistant secretary for community colleges in the U.S. Department of Education. Mitsui will take the post August 12.

Read more at:


Anthropology Graduate Students Are Often Harassed in the Field, Study Finds

Graduate students and junior scholars conducting anthropological fieldwork at remote sites are vulnerable to abuse from their supervisors, according to a study presented this weekend at the 2013 meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropology.

Fifty-nine percent of the 124 subjects in the study, which is continuing and includes men as well as women, said they had been victims of harassment in the field. Nineteen percent said they had been assaulted.

While those figures included subj…


Justice Dept. Will Not Weigh In on Georgia State U. E-Reserves Case

The U.S. Department of Justice has decided not to file an amicus curiae brief in a high-profile copyright case involving Georgia State University and several publishers.

The case in question, Cambridge U. Press et al. v. Mark P. Becker et al., was brought against the university by Cambridge, Oxford University Press, and SAGE Publishers. It accuses Georgia State of committing widespread copyright violations by making some of the publishers’ content available on electronic reserve without licensin…