Quick Takes | Higher education round-up: Dec. 7


A weekly roundup of news from around the Ivy League and the higher-education community




Harvard University

Displeasure over Calderon appointment

Some are protesting the recent appointment of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon to a fellowship position at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, claiming that Calderon was responsible for the deaths of numerous innocent citizens in his war on drug cartels.

As of Thursday evening, a petition posted on Change.org asking Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust to deny Calderon employment had received more than 3,200 signatures.

Harvard has largely defended Calderon, with Kennedy School Dean David Ellwood claiming that his appointment will allow students to “engage with world leaders and to ask difficult questions on important public policy issues.”

Emory University

Students protest program cuts

About 150 Emory students congregated in the school’s quad and inside an administrative building Tuesday afternoon to protest a series of cuts announced by the College of Arts and Sciences in September.

The students at the rally claimed that the administration had not adequately listened to their concerns over the closure of a number of programs, including journalism, physical education and visual arts. Because of the closures, more than 40 faculty and staff will likely lose their jobs.

Later in the day, Emory’s president met with a small group of student protesters for several hours to discuss their concerns.

Penn State University

Mexican-themed sorority party leads to probation

Penn State’s chapter of Chi Omega has been placed on probation after a photograph of sorority members wearing sombreros and ponchos was made public.

In the photo, one of the women is holding a sign that reads “Will mow lawn for weed beer.”

Penn State wrote in an open letter to the campus community that the actions at the party displayed “either a lack of awareness about the human condition and human sensitivities or, worse yet, disdain for the thoughts, feelings, histories and experiences of others.”

Wellesley College

School joins edX

Wellesley announced this week that it will be partnering with edX — one of the primary providers of massive online open courses, and a major competitor of Coursera. The school will offer four courses on edX, beginning in the fall semester.

Through its partnership, Wellesley will become just the second liberal arts college of the 33 institutions that currently participate in edX.

Other schools that are involved with edX include Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Texas System.

Yale University

Dean discourages take-home finals

In light of this summer’s allegations of mass cheating on a take-home exam at Harvard University, Yale College Dean Mary Miller is urging her school’s professors to consider avoiding take-home finals this semester.

In a recent email to the school’s faculty, Miller argued that, in addition to curbing academic integrity issues, giving in-class exams will promote better study habits as the finals season approaches.

The Yale Daily News, however, reported that some professors have pushed back against Miller, citing a desire to “measure students’ ability to synthesize and apply concepts instead of their ability to memorize them.”

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