Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Nevada at Reno -- facing steep budget cuts from the state -- on Monday announced a plan to eliminate numerous programs and, with them, 225 positions, of which 150 are currently filled. Among the programs that will be eliminated: the School of Social Work, degrees in theater and French, the assessment office and the special collections division of the library.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 3:00am

At a Lawrence Summers speech in Boston Monday, the audience questions focused not on economic policy, but on his portrayal in "The Social Network," The Boston Globe reported. In the film, Summers is brusque and dismissive of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, two students who met with him to complain that another student, Mark Zuckerberg, had stolen their idea for Facebook. Summers said Monday that the film was "fairly accurate," including its depiction of his less than warm treatment of the Winklevoss brothers. “I’ve read somewhere, on occasion, that people think I can be arrogant. And, uh, I can’t imagine why. And if that is so, I probably was on that occasion.’’

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 3:00am

A new report suggests that Indian universities may be able to recruit substantial numbers of Indian graduate students in the United States to return. The issue is key because Indian universities badly need to recruit more faculty talent, and many have assumed that those who come to the United States for graduate study are unlikely to consider jobs in India. The new study -- by researchers at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, Pennsylvania State University and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences -- interviewed 1,000 Indians who are either pursuing or have finished graduate work in the United States. Only 8 percent said that they strongly preferred to stay in the United States. While many cited obstacles to going home, their answers suggested that the right packages and conditions could attract many of them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Roland Toups has resigned as a member the Louisiana Board of Regents, under pressure from Governor Bobby Jindal, as the board is facing criticism that all of its gubernatorial appointees are white, The Times-Picayune reported. Jindal, a Republican, is pushing a plan to merge historically black Southern University in New Orleans with the University of New Orleans. Defenders of Southern are attacking the plan in part by questioning whether the Board of Regents, which will play a key role in considering the plan, is out of compliance with a state constitutional requirement that it reflect the population of Louisiana. An aide to the governor said that the diversity issue was a reason Toups was asked to resign.

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 3:00am

St. Cloud State University has taken the unusual step of ending homecoming, The Star Tribune reported. Officials said that relatively few alumni participated in homecoming events, and that the university will try to cultivate alumni by encouraging them to "come back anytime," not just for an annual football game.

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 3:00am

California legislators are moving toward a compromise on eligibility for Cal Grants, the state's student aid program, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Some lawmakers originally wanted to reduce the maximum grants for students at for-profit colleges to the levels for those attending public colleges and universities. That approach has been replaced with one in which all colleges will need to meet certain standards on default rates and other measures for students to be eligible.

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Senate leaders on Friday released their version of a bill to set federal spending for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year, which would reject virtually all of the cuts proposed in the legislation that passed the House of Representatives last month. The Senate measure -- which, if passed, would set up a sharp contrast and a potential conflict that could lead to a government shutdown -- would keep the maximum Pell Grant at its current $5,550, largely shield spending on other student aid and academic research programs, and sustain programs that the House would eliminate, such as the AmeriCorps national service program.

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Douglas Robinson of Mount Saint Mary College explains the environmental factors that trigger migration instincts in birds. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 3:00am

University presses need to consider new business models, and share information on successful new approaches, but no one model should be assumed to be correct for all, according to a report being released today by the Association of American University Presses. "[T]he simple product-sales models of the 20th century, devised when information was scarce and expensive, are clearly inappropriate for the 21st-century scholarly ecosystem. As the report details, new forms of openness, fees, subscriptions, products, and services are being combined to try to build sustainable business models to fund innovative digital scholarly publishing in diverse arenas," the report says.

The report stresses the role of university presses in vetting and improving scholarly writing, not just publishing it, and that emphasis turns up in several recommendations. "Open access is a principle to be embraced if publishing costs can be supported by the larger scholarly enterprise. University presses, and nonprofit publishers generally, should become fully engaged in these discussions," the report says. Another recommendation: "Proposals and plans for new business models should explicitly address the potential impact of the new model on other parts of the press’s programs, as well as explicitly address the requirements, both operational and financial, for making the transition to a new model."

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 3:00am

 

Sixty percent of the students polled at Columbia University support a return of the Reserve Officer Training Corps to their campus, according to a report submitted Friday to the University Senate by a special Task Force on Military Engagement. The survey was open chiefly to undergraduate students: in Columbia College, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of General Studies and Barnard College. Graduate students at the School of International and Public Affairs also voted. The survey was administered online over an eight-day stretch, and 2,252 students voted.

 

In addition, 79 percent of students approved of Columbia "allowing the participation of Columbia students in ROTC, whether on- or off-campus,” which already has been happening. Other statements garnering strong student support included the notion that a ROTC program with Columbia-educated officers would be a positive development (66 percent). Nearly as many, 58 percent, believed military engagement on campus would increase intellectual diversity at Columbia.

 

The task force, which was composed of five students and four faculty members, also summed up weeks of e-mailed comments it received and provided transcripts to three public meetings on the subject (one of which was the source of controversy). The results of the latest vote, in the wake of the repeal in December of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that barred gay servicemen and women from serving, differed from the last such survey taken at Columbia in 2008. A referendum that year revealed that 49 percent of students favored a return of ROTC to campus.

The fate of the program now rests with a vote of the 108-member University Senate sometime during the next two months.

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