Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 18, 2009

Brandeis continues to maintain that its art museum's future has yet to be determined. But when it closed Sunday, it may have been the last time it was open to the public with temporary exhibits for which it is well known and with a full curatorial staff, The Boston Globe reported. Many visitors on Sunday wanted to see the art while the museum was functioning fully, and expressed dismay at the university's consideration of plans to sell the collection.

May 18, 2009

The Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, is considered a purchase of BPP, the only for-profit higher education entity in Britain with degree-granting authority, The Times Higher reported. Both government officials and educators in Britain view the potential purchase as significant, as it could be a springboard for Apollo's ambitions in the country.

May 18, 2009

For most of the academic year that just ended, Lambuth University has experienced administrative turnover and evidence of severe financial problems. Now, for the second month in a row, the university has failed to make payroll on time, The Jackson Sun reported. University officials said that a wire transfer was delayed, making it impossible to meet payroll on time, but that they hoped to be only a week late.

May 18, 2009

The former girlfriend of Mike Burden -- until recently associate head coach of the University of Maine men's basketball team -- says she warned the university that he posed a danger unless he received counseling, The Bangor Daily News reported. Burden resigned last week after being charged with unlawful sexual conduct with one woman and assault against another who was trying to help the first woman. The coach's former girlfriend posted her story as a comment on the newspaper's story about the charges that were issued against Burden. A university spokesman confirmed that the letter had been received and said that Burden's supervisors discussed it with him, but declined to discuss whether any actions were taken as a result of the letter.

May 15, 2009

The Foreign Relations Authorization Act, introduced Thursday by Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Cal.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, includes a bill of great importance in the study abroad field. The Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act aims to quadruple study abroad participation to one million, and diversify study abroad in terms of who participates and where they go. The Simon bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate in February.

May 15, 2009

Students at Newnham College, part of the University of Cambridge, have rewritten a Latin Grace said before the weekly formal meals where they dine together, and more than a few eyebrows have been raised as a result, The Times of London reported. According to the Times, the prayer has been said as: “Benedic nobis Domine Deus et his donis quae de liberalitate tua sumpturi sumus per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.” (Translation: “Bless us Lord God and bless these gifts which by your generosity we are about to eat, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.") The new version, prepared to be more inclusive of students from many faiths, is as follows: “Pro cibo inter esurientes, pro comitate inter desolatos, pro pace inter bellantes, gratias agimus." (The translation: “For food in a hungry world, for companionship in a world of loneliness, for peace in an age of violence, we give thanks.") Mary Beard, a Cambridge classics professor who blogs for the Times, has published a critique of the new language. Beard writes that "the undergraduates' rewrite was a classic case of disguising a load of well meaning platitudes in some posh dead language, which was actually an insult to that dead language."

May 15, 2009

The College Board is postponing plans to introduce a standardized test for eighth graders -- a test that the board said would promote rigor in high school and that critics said wasn't justified educationally but was just a money-making tool for the organization. The College Board announced plans for the new exam -- ReadiStep -- in October. Word that the test has been put off -- due to the economy -- surfaced Thursday when The Big Money, a division of Slate, published a highly critical article about the various ways that the College Board makes what the article called "gobstopping amounts of money" off of students. The article cited ReadiStep's launch as another way to make money, and the online magazine corrected that assertion after being informed by the College Board that it had decided to postpone the new test.

May 15, 2009

Most states that have already decided how to allocate the education funds they're receiving from the federal stimulus package are directing the bulk of the money to elementary and secondary education, according to an analysis of 13 states by the New America Foundation. The group's analysis, which is based on applications that the Education Department has already approved for how states plan to use the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, largely mirrors the (somewhat diminished) expectations of college officials that the recovery package would totally bail them out of financial trouble. New America's analysis shows that while states such as Oregon and Georgia will use significant portions of their stabilization funds on higher education, several others are planning to spend virtually every penny on K-12.

May 15, 2009

Larry Nielsen has resigned as provost of North Carolina State University, saying that a controversy over his hiring of the former governor's wife was making it impossible for him to do his job, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. Many have been critical not only of the hiring of Mary Easley to coordinate some special events for the university, but also her salary -- $850,000 over five years -- at a time of budget constraints. North Carolina State officials have consistently defended the hire as completely legal and legitimate, but another article in the News & Observer noted that Nielsen won his job (after serving in the position on an interim basis) after he hired Easley.

May 15, 2009

A few weeks back, several bloggers commented on reports that "Wife Swap," an ABC reality show in which the wives of two families are switched for a week, was seeking philosophers. Kieran Healy wondered which of two ways the show might go: "airy-fairy life of the mind vs huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ " or a contrast of philosophical beliefs, such as "Modal Realists vs Phenomenologists ('I thought you said all the beer was in the effing fridge'); Rawlsians vs Libertarians; or John Emerson goes to live with John Hawthorne." ABC was quiet at the time the rumors appeared, but the network now confirms that it is looking for philosophers -- and will pay $20,000 to those selected. Danielle Gervais, casting producer for the show, said in an interview said that "we thought it would be interesting to find parents who are philosophical" and who bring their philosophical outlook into their role as parents. How might that be evident? Gervais said philosopher parents might teach young children that "we don't believe in things like the tooth fairy" and would encourage children to "really question things" and to "ponder deep things." Gervais said she wasn't sure if the network would swap the wives in two philosophy couples or swap the wife of a philosophy duo with the wife of a non-philosophy duo. But the network wants to have couples where both spouses are philosophers and have similar approaches to raising their children. Several faculty couples have already applied, but interviewing is still going on and more candidates are welcome.

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