All posts by Vincent DeFrancesco


AIDS-Research Community Mourns Losses in Air Disaster

Among the victims of Thursday’s Malaysia Airlines disaster were passengers traveling to an AIDS-research conference in Australia. One victim was Joep Lange, head of the department of global health at the University of Amsterdam and one of the field’s most prominent members. People in the community have been reacting to the loss on social media and in the news media.

  • Vox ran a piece detailing Mr. Lange’s importance to the community.
  • BuzzFeed published a poignant piece that mentioned other promi…

Reporters to Follow as the U. of Texas at Austin Saga Unfolds

News last weekend that William C. Powers Jr., president of the University of Texas at Austin, had been asked to resign or risk being fired caused an uproar this week on the flagship campus. Faculty members have mobilized in support of Mr. Powers, whose fate is expected to be decided on Thursday at a meeting of the university system’s Board of Regents.

If you want to stay up to date on the drama, here’s a list of journalists who have been covering the story, along with their Twitter handles:

  • Hol…

‘Toxic Culture of Bullying’ Is Revealed at Australian National U.

An investigation by The Canberra Times last week uncovered a “toxic culture of bullying” within the School of Politics and International Relations at Australian National University.

At least seven formal complaints have been filed against senior university staff members, largely centering on vulgar language and unreasonable workloads. Additionally, two academics who complained of psychological damage won cases with Comcare, the Australian government’s workplace-safety watchdog.

Eleven of the sch…


NLRB Revises 2012 Decision on Labor Dispute at Columbia College Chicago

A three-member panel of the National Labor Relations Board affirmed on Thursday a 2012 ruling against Columbia College Chicago over a union-negotiation dispute, but it modified college’s punishment.

The dispute began in 2010, when the college reduced the maximum number of courses some of its part-time faculty members could teach, from three to two. An NLRB judge ruled in 2012 that the college’s decision violated the law because it had refused to bargain with its Part-Time Faculty Association in …


Tracking Developments in the Ed O’Bannon Trial

O’Bannon v. NCAA is in its fourth day. The former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon and his fellow plaintiffs are suing the NCAA, saying it has deprived them of millions of dollars in profits it has earned from the use of their images. While the plaintiffs are not eligible to collect damages, they are seeking an injunction to put a stop to the NCAA’s ability to prohibit players from receiving a share of the organization’s profits.

For more background, consult this Chronicle article and an accompa…


Stem-Cell Scientist Agrees to Withdraw What Had Been Groundbreaking Paper

The Japanese scientist Haruko Obokata has agreed to withdraw a stem-cell article, once thought to be a groundbreaking study, that was published in the British scientific journal Nature, The Asahi Shimbun reported on Wednesday.

The Riken Center for Developmental Biology, where Ms. Obokata works, released a report on April 1 that said she had fabricated images in the paper.

She and the paper’s other lead author, Charles Vacanti, an anesthesiology professor at Harvard University, maintain that the fabricated images do not compromise their scientific findings.

Haruko Obokata, the scientist accused of fabricating her research into a new type of stem cell, has agreed to withdraw her groundbreaking article published in the British science journal Nature in January that brought her worldwide acclaim.

Read more at:


Boston-Area Colleges ‘Largely Agree’ to Release Students’ Addresses

More than 20 colleges in the Boston area have “largely agreed” to disclose the addresses of students who live off campus after meeting on Tuesday with Mayor Martin Walsh, The Boston Globe reported.

The mayor said he planned to use the addresses to build a database in an effort to single out overcrowded properties for inspection.

The meeting came a month after a Globe investigation found that rampant overcrowding and other unsafe conditions in off-campus housing had put many of the city’s college students at risk.

Boston institutions have long resisted releasing student addresses, but Mr. Walsh said he had heard no objections at the meeting and several representatives promised speedy compliance.

Boston College, however, later said it still was concerned that releasing student data might violate federal privacy law. It is studying the mayor’s request.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Tuesday that more than 20 universities in Boston have largely agreed to disclose the addresses of their off-campus students, a long-resisted step that he called critical to combat chronic overcrowding that he said imperils student their safety.

Read more at:


$60-Million in Science-Education Grants Go to 37 Universities

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute announced on Thursday a $60-million, five-year program to improve science education at research universities.

The nonprofit institute chose 37 universities from a pool of 170. Each grantee will focus on one of four themes:

  • “Student Learning and Development Communities,” designed to foster interaction between students and faculty members.
  • Major reforms in introductory STEM courses, which are sometimes known as “gateway” or “weed out” courses.
  • The redesign or e…

Students and Colleges Take to Twitter to Pay Tribute to Maya Angelou

When news broke on Wednesday that Maya Angelou had passed away, colleges and students took to Twitter to remember her. In addition to being a poet, an author, an actress, and a civil-rights activist, she was a professor at Wake Forest University and a regular speaker on the campus circuit. Here’s a sampling of the Twitter conversation.


Olin College of Engineering Is Millions in the Red

[Updated (5/28/2014, 12:34 a.m.) with a response from Olin College.]

Massachusetts’ Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering is hemorrhaging money, according to the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.

The 340-student college, which has received international attention for its initial commitment to charging no tuition, its strong faculty, and its graduation rates, spent nearly $100-million more than it took in from 2008 to 2011, the latest year for which figures are available, accordin…