Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 3:00am

Academics were among the winners of Pulitzer Prizes announced Monday:

  • Dan Fagin, associate professor of journalism and the director of the Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program at New York University, won the award for general nonfiction for Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation, (Bantam Books).
  • Megan Marshall, who teaches in the M.F.A. program at Emerson College, won the award for biography for Margaret Fuller: A New American Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
  • Vijay Seshadri, who teaches poetry and nonfiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College, won the award for poetry for his collection 3 Sections (Graywolf Press).
  • Alan Taylor, the Thomas Jefferson Professor of History at the University of Virginia, won the history award for The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832, (W.W. Norton).
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 4:23am

Liberty University has removed some job duties from its provost, who will no longer serve as vice president of academic affairs, The Lynchburg News & Advance reported. The actions follow upon criticism that Provost Ron Godwin, in a video, appeared to endorse an unauthorized partnership between the university and a Texas-based faith healer. A statement from Liberty said that Godwin "will spend the next few years grooming his successors and guiding the team responsible for Liberty University’s pending 10 year accreditation reaffirmation report." Godwin said he should have verified the relationship before appearing in the video, and that “I have apologized to President Falwell for this error and am grateful that I can continue to contribute to Liberty University’s health and success."

 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 4:29am

The University of Memphis is seeking large cuts in out-of-state tuition, hoping to attract more students from outside Tennessee, The Commercial Appeal reported. Currently, out-of-state students pay $21,768 a year, and Tennessee residents pay $7,056. Under the proposal from the university, non-residents would pay $12,403 if they graduated from a high school within 250 miles of Memphis, and $18,768 otherwise.

 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 3:00am

A review by the University of Michigan's student government criticized the university for failing to explain a years-long delay in the punishment of a football player allegedly involved in raping a fellow student, The Detroit News reported. A report from a task force created by the Central Student Government also said that Michigan's football coach, Brady Hoke, "knowingly issued false statements" about the case of Brendan Gibbons, a football player who was expelled in December four years after his 2009 arrest for the alleged rape of another student. The case is also under review by the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights.

 

 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Larissa Samuelson, associate professor of psychology at the University of Iowa, demonstrates that playing with one's food might be a beneficial part of the learning process. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Monday, April 14, 2014 - 3:00am

The University of South Carolina Upstate has been under attack by legislators lately over a book on gay themes that was assigned to freshmen and a scheduled appearance (since called off) of the comedy show “How to Be a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less.” On Sunday, Chancellor Tom Moore published a short essay called "On Being a University," trying to put the events in context. He noted that the university offers a range of programs for all kinds of students -- for students with different academic majors, of different religious groups, for veterans and so forth. Moore wrote that, if one looks at the totality of the programs at the university, issues related to gay students and gay issues "definitely" do not dominate, and are only a small fraction of what is offered.

But he also defended the idea that these programs need to be part of the mix. "If public universities do not offer programs and conferences that deal with cultural dynamics related to LGBTQ and other societal issues, where will such programs occur? Wherever we stand on issues of gay rights and same-sex marriage, denying the presence and importance of these issues in contemporary American culture is tantamount to burying our heads in the sand," Moore wrote. "As a public university, we must engage important issues in our culture, even when doing so makes some uncomfortable."

 

Monday, April 14, 2014 - 3:00am

The University of Missouri erred in its own policies and mishandled the case of Sasha Menu Courey, a Division I swimmer who said she’d been raped by one or more Missouri football players in 2010, and who later committed suicide, according to an investigative report by a group of independent lawyers. Missouri officials did not have the appropriate Title IX policies and procedures in place (in violation of federal law), and did not report relevant information to the Title IX coordinator who could have investigated the allegation, the report says. There is also no evidence that any officials other than medical personnel, who are bound by confidentiality laws, knew about the allegation while Menu Courey was alive.

Monday, April 14, 2014 - 3:00am

Students at Rowan University are divided about having New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as graduation speaker this year, The South Jersey Times reported. Some are excited about having a famous political figure who still could be a candidate for president in 2016. Others think that his recent traffic scandal makes him an odd choice, and they don't want a divisive figure. On Twitter, one person had fun with Christie's woes, referring to Rowan's location and the date of commencement: "Time for some traffic problems in Glassboro May 16th."

Monday, April 14, 2014 - 3:00am

Al-Quds University is disavowing the efforts of one of its professors, Mohammed S. Dajani, who took 27 students at the Palestinian university where he teaches to Auschwitz, to try to teach empathy with Jews, The Washington Post reported. In another part of the effort, Israeli students were visiting the West Bank to learn from Palestinians about their lives and the hardships they face. A German foundation paid for the program, contrary to rumors that Jewish groups had paid. Dajani has been called a traitor by many Palestinians, although he is standing behind the idea.

Monday, April 14, 2014 - 3:00am

The U.S. Department of Education used a misleading statistic in its rollout last month of proposed "gainful employment" regulations aimed at for-profit institutions, The Washington Post reported. Advocates for the sector had pushed back on the validity of the department's prominently featured assertion that graduates of 72 percent of programs at for-profits make less than high school dropouts. The Post looked into the argument on its "Fact Checker" blog, and sided with for-profits.

For starters, the baseline earnings calculation for high-school dropouts was not up to snuff, the newspaper found. The feds used a relatively high figure, relative to other data. And then the department, in both a White House briefing and in written material, used the figure in comparison to for-profit programs. That was an "apples to oranges" comparison, the Post said. One key reason is that the median salary for high-school dropouts did not include data for unemployed workers. It also factored in people who were many years into their careers, while using only recent graduates for the for-profit graduate figure.

The department defended the statistic, which the Post called "bogus." An official said the figure was merely a benchmark, and that problems with for-profits are serious. "However you cut it, one statement remains true: Graduates of a significant number of for-profit career college programs wind up getting jobs with very low earnings -- a fact that should cause concern for any consumer who’s considering those programs as a post-secondary option intended to prepare them for a job.”

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