Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Joseph Reynolds of Monmouth University explains the increase in coastal wildlife activity that accompanies the onset of spring. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Education Secretary Arne Duncan reiterated a call he made last year for the National Collegiate Athletic Association to require that colleges participating in the Division I men's basketball tournament have players on track to graduate at a minimum rate. Duncan increased his plea from a minimum expected graduation rate of 40 percent to a rate of at least 50 percent, after a report found low expected graduation rates among some of the teams in the tournament this year and vast disparities between the rates of black and white players.

The report, conducted by Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida, found that 66 percent of the players on teams participating in the men's tournament are expected to graduate. But the report found "alarming" differences in graduation rates among competing colleges and racial groups. At Kansas State University, 100 percent of white players are expected to graduate, compared with 14 percent of black players. Such findings are “unconscionable,” said Duncan, who suggested the NCAA use the Academic Progress Rate to judge colleges on their students’ expected graduation rates, preventing institutions with an anticipated graduation rate below 50 percent from going to the NCAA tournament. “The big kahuna is the opportunity to go to the tournament,” he said. “So if we draw a clear line there, a bright line in the sand, then behavior will change.”

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

New York City officials on Thursday announced an impressive list of proposals from universities around the world to build a new engineering and science campus in the city, The Wall Street Journal reported. Among the universities seeking to do so are institutions in Canada, India, Israel, Korea and Finland. Proposals also arrived from Columbia, Cornell and Stanford Universities and the City University of New York. Some of the proposals are for partnerships, such as one involving New York University, Carnegie Mellon, the City University of New York, the University of Toronto, and IBM.

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Seven people were charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct on Tuesday when they protested at a legislative hearing in Tennessee on bills that would limit union rights. On Thursday, a state senator called on the University of Memphis, where he believed the students were enrolled, to "take action" against the students, The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. It turns out that only two of those charged are University of Memphis students, although two others are enrolled at the Memphis College of Art. Senator Randy McNally, a Republican, said the students should be expelled. "I’ve been down here a long time and have never seen a situation like that.... I was also dismayed to learn that six of the individuals were members of a registered student organization at the University of Memphis — the Progressive Student Alliance — and I would hope the university takes action," he said. "I know that if it was a fraternity that did something like that they’d be off campus in a heartbeat."

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The grades of minority college students can be improved substantially if they participate in a short exercise in which they are exposed to evidence that students of all races and ethnicities have difficulty adjusting to college. The research -- conducted by two Stanford University professors -- appears in today's edition of Science.

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Generations of students at the University of Chicago have complained about the lack of a social life there, dubbing their intellectual institution the place "where fun comes to die." But as CBS Chicago reported, the website attracting attention at the campus is committed to turning Hyde Park into "the place where fun comes to thrive." The website -- UChicagoHookups.com -- is committed to letting University of Chicago students find partners (among fellow students only) for casual sex. "We're trying to change the ages-old stereotype that UChicago students are severely sexually deprived," explains the site.

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

For the second year in a row, more students finishing their programs at medical schools in the United States have obtained residencies in family medicine. The number is up by 11 percent from 2010. A major goal of many medical educators and experts in recent years has been to shift more medical students into such general kinds of medicine and away from specialties.

Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 3:00am

Is the College Board favoring students who are experts on Snooki? Many students who took the SAT this month were surprised to find an essay prompt on reality television shows, and some students who prefer more educational forms of entertainment complain that they were at a disadvantage in writing their essays, The New York Times reported. Student discussion boards have many comments from students who took the most recent SAT saying that they don't watch television or this particular genre. College Board officials defended the question, saying that all the information students needed for the essay was in the prompt.

Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 3:00am

After a year in which many law students have been complaining about poor job prospects, applications to law school are down 11.5 percent from this point a year ago, according to data provided by the Law School Admission Council to The Wall Street Journal. "When the economy first went down, students saw law school as a way to dodge the work force," Ryan Heitkamp, a pre-law adviser at Ohio State University, told the newspaper. "The news has gotten out that law school is not necessarily a safe backup plan."

Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 3:00am

Advocates for community colleges are not always happy with the way they are portrayed in popular culture. Witness the debate over NBC's "Community." Critics from the community college world may want to start getting ready for Larry Crowne, a film due out this summer in which Julia Roberts plays a community college professor and Tom Hanks her student (who, like many community college students, enrolls when he loses his job). The last movie featuring Roberts as a professor was Mona Lisa Smile, in which she played an art historian trying to challenge her students and colleagues at Wellesley College in the 1950s. The image of Wellesley didn't go over well with the college.

Here is the trailer for the new film:

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