Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 9, 2020

Academic journal publisher Springer Nature and scholarly networking website ResearchGate have agreed to a long-term content syndication partnership.

Springer Nature and ResearchGate began a pilot program in March 2019 that made research articles from select Springer Nature journals available to download for ResearchGate users with valid institutional journal subscriptions.

A white paper evaluating the results of the pilot shared positive feedback from researchers about the improved ease of discovery of version-of-record (rather than prepublication) journal articles and the straightforward journal access authentication process.

Springer Nature will make more journal articles available through ResearchGate, including articles published in Springer journals in the past five years, and articles in all Nature-branded research journals from the past three years.

“This partnership is a wonderful example of how we can provide content directly to researchers on the platforms they use for collaboration and networking, therefore improving the discoverability and visibility of our authors’ work,” said Steven Inchcoombe, chief publishing and solutions officer at Springer Nature, in a press release.

The continued collaboration between Springer Nature and ResearchGate is notable, as many scholarly publishers have been critical of ResearchGate’s research-sharing practices.

The Coalition for Responsible Sharing, which represents publishers such as the American Chemical Society and Elsevier, has issued more than 100,000 takedown notices to ResearchGate for research articles shared in breach of copyright.

The American Chemical Society and Elsevier have also separately sued the platform for mass copyright infringement.

September 9, 2020

Gallaudet University is launching a professional network to promote Deaf-led research and innovation in sign language technology.

The network, called Cultivating Research and Equity in Sign-related Technology (CREST), is funded by the National Science Foundation and will focus on increasing the inclusion of Deaf and hard-of-hearing students and researchers in the development of new technology in the field.

CREST was co-founded by Melissa Malzkuhn, founder and creative director of Gallaudet's Motion Light Lab, and Lorna Quandt, the lab's science director.

"There is new research coming out every day in this field. Now, with CREST, we have the opportunity to bring together top researchers and resources from across the world, not only to accelerate cutting-edge technologies for the broader deaf community but most importantly to ensure they are developed authentically from the start with deaf input and representation," said Quandt and Malzkuhn in a press release.

September 9, 2020

Today on the Academic Minute, Cinzia Pica-Smith, associate professor in the department of human services and rehabilitation studies at Assumption University, examines the relationships between Italian children and their immigrant peers. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 8, 2020

Departmental colleagues of Jessica Krug, the white associate professor of history at George Washington University who has been lying about being Black for her entire career, want her to resign or be fired. In a statement Friday, George Washington’s history faculty members said they are “shocked and appalled” at Krug’s “appropriation of an Afro-Caribbean identity” and betrayal of “countless current and former students, fellow scholars of Africana Studies, colleagues in our department and throughout the historical discipline, as well as community activists in New York City and beyond.”

The discipline of history is “concerned with truth telling about the past,” the professors said, and so Krug’s conduct raises “questions about the veracity of her own research and teaching.” Krug should resign, they said, but if she doesn’t, the department recommends that she be untenured and terminated. The Washington Post also reported that the department wants Krug’s current classes in African and Latin American history to continue if it can find someone to replace her. Krug has not responded to multiple requests for comment since she revealed her secret last week.

September 8, 2020

Michael Bloomberg, businessman, former mayor of New York City and one-time Democratic candidate for president, announced on Thursday that his Bloomberg Philanthropies will give $100 million to four historically Black medical schools to ease the debt of approximately 800 medical students.

Those institutions are Meharry Medical College, Howard University College of Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.

A press release from Bloomberg Philanthropies highlighted that only 5 percent of practicing American doctors are Black, though research suggests Black patients have better health outcomes when treated by Black physicians. The donation is part of the organization’s new Greenwood Initiative, to “accelerate the pace of Black wealth accumulation and address systemic underinvestment in Black communities.”

The donation will allow the four schools to provide scholarships of up to $100,000 to nearly every medical student currently enrolled and receiving financial aid over the next four years, the press release said.

“Although Black doctors are more likely to serve minority patients, and in medically-underserved areas, the devastating economic impact of the current pandemic threatens to worsen existing disparities potentially preventing current Black medical students with financial need from completing their degrees or by forcing Black medical school graduates to pick specialties that offer higher pay in the interest of paying off their medical school debt,” the release said. “Ultimately, the pandemic could … slow the placement of Black doctors in communities with the most need.”

September 8, 2020

In October, National University announced it would be changing its name to Sanford National University to honor California philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, who gave $350 million to the university in an effort to reduce tuition.

That change was supposed to take place in July. But the university, a nonprofit that caters to nontraditional learners online, is holding off following news reports that Sanford was the subject of a South Dakota child pornography investigation.

“In light of recent developments, for the foreseeable future, National University will continue under its existing name. The Board of National University will continue to follow this matter closely,” the university said in a statement.

Sanford’s lawyer told La Jolla Light that Sanford has not been charged with any crime.

Multiple institutions at the University of California, San Diego, are also named after Sanford, including a stem cell clinical center and an institute for empathy and compassion. At National University, his gifts have supported the Sanford Harmony and Sanford Inspire programs, which address children and teachers, and the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy, which teaches fundraising skills.

Sanford’s involvement in the investigation was first reported by ProPublica and further confirmed by the Argus Leader.

September 8, 2020

Two agreements are expected to resolve long-standing disputes in Oklahoma over desegregation, The Tulsa World reported.

In one agreement, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education will settle a 17-year-old dispute. The state board has agreed to pay a $750,000 supplemental allocation to historically Black Langston University over three years for assessment, planning and marketing.

The other deal is between Langston and Oklahoma State University. In this deal, Oklahoma State will pay Langston $15 million over 10 years. In return, Langston will discontinue all current degree programs in Tulsa except a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees in rehabilitative services, and will start new joint programs with OSU-Tulsa in nursing and Africana studies.

September 8, 2020

Arizona State University last week announced that the Charles Koch Foundation and a group of other philanthropies will give the university $12 million for an initiative aimed at driving innovations across higher education in the U.S.

ASU's University Design Institute is coordinating the effort to support other universities in "culture change initiatives" that are designed to broaden access to high-quality postsecondary education, in part with technological innovations that seek to be more responsive to student needs.

The project also plans to accelerate the development of a stackable credential system, initially aimed at ASU, where smaller credentials will more smoothly add up to more comprehensive ones, presumably including degrees. It also will focus on developing technological components for the world's first "Trusted Learner Network," which seeks to replace college transcripts with a verifiable, learner-owned record system. This new approach would feature competency-based credentials that the learner would have more control over than current transcripts.

"The work advanced through this partnership will drive a culture change and the commitment to redesign and restructure higher education that we embrace at ASU and that is critical to the success of students across the country," Michael Crow, ASU's president, said in a statement. "The public health pandemic that has swept the globe and the stress it has placed on our education system has exposed weaknesses that have existed for years. Universities are being forced to adapt right now and so we're saying, 'let's take advantage of this opportunity' and let's build things in a way that serves the learner in a new world that doesn't look anything like the one that existed when most of America's institutions of higher learning were designed."

September 8, 2020

The Michigan State University Board of Trustees is set to vote this week to rename a campus building after some officials learned the building’s namesake was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. The measure has been recommended by the Trustee Committee on Academic Affairs.

The building was named after Stephen Nisbet, a late school principal, Michigan Education Association president, State Board of Education member and trustee at both MSU and Alma College.

The building was named after Nisbet in 1974. However, the board has highlighted information that strongly suggests Nisbet was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s.

The book Everyday Klansfolk: White Protestant Life and the KKK in 1920s Michigan, which was published in 2011, mentions Nisbet as a Klan member. Furthermore, his membership card is on file at the Central Michigan University Clarke Historical Library, according to a document in the board’s meeting packet.

MSU president Samuel Stanley Jr. told the Lansing State Journal that Nisbet's KKK connections were recently brought to his attention, and after verifying the information, he made a recommendation to the board to remove Nisbet's name. A spokesperson for the university told the Journal that Stanley became aware of the Klan connections within the last six months.

Michigan State policy states that campus buildings should be named after individuals whose life, work or activities exemplify the university’s values.

“While Mr. Nisbet’s dedication and contributions to the State of Michigan are significant, his involvement with the KKK cannot be ignored, and these activities directly conflict with the values and mission of Michigan State University,” the recommendation reads.

The building is set to be renamed 1407 S. Harrison. It currently houses human resources offices and parts of the College of Social Sciences.

September 8, 2020

A federal judge for the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts has enjoined a Department of Education rule that bars undocumented immigrant students and other noncitizen students not eligible for the federal Title IV financial aid program from accessing emergency grants authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The injunction applies only to the state of Massachusetts.

In ordering the injunction, U.S. District Judge Leo T. Sorokin cited the reasoning in a different case involving Farah Noerand, a Bunker Hill Community College student from Haiti who holds temporary immigration status in the U.S. In deciding that case, Sorokin wrote that the "CARES Act unambiguously authorized the provision of funds … to students without regard to their immigration status, i.e., without regard to whether the student is eligible for Title IV financial aid, and rejects the Department’s contention that the statute is ambiguous on this point."

In seeking the injunction, the state of Massachusetts argued that some of the state's "most vulnerable students," including many first-generation, low-income and minority students, were excluded from accessing CARES Act funding under the Education Department's rule.

“We’re pleased the court has blocked this senseless rule that could harm tens of thousands students in Massachusetts by preventing them from accessing relief under the CARES Act," said Meggie Quackenbush, a spokeswoman for Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey. "We should be doing everything we can during this public health crisis to support our vulnerable populations, not finding cruel new ways to hurt them."

A spokeswoman for the Education Department, Angela Morabito, said the agency is reviewing the decision.

"Congress did not direct the Department to give U.S. taxpayer dollars to wealthy students from China or Iran, nor authorize it to allow payments to be made from federal funds to illegal aliens," Morabito said. "Colleges and universities retain the discretion to fund foreign students or illegal aliens. They just cannot use U.S. taxpayer dollars in order to do so."

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