Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, February 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Proposals in Wisconsin and Ohio that would bar public colleges and university faculty members (and many other state employees) from engaging in collective bargaining are drawing numerous angry responses from faculty members and students. In Wisconsin on Thursday, students held walkouts and protests on most University of Wisconsin campuses. Here are local accounts of activities at Eau Claire, Milwaukee and River Falls. Also on Thursday, Cary Nelson of the American Association of University Professors issued a statement about the Ohio legislation, which he said should "be of grave concern to all faculty members--whether they are in a collective bargaining unit or not, whether they would choose personally to be involved in a union. The issue is self-determination: whether faculty members and other public sector employees should have the democratic right to choose their own collective destiny."

Friday, February 18, 2011 - 3:00am

A new study aims to bust the stereotype that Asian students are more inclined to plagiarize than their peers are, concluding that how closely students identify with an ethnic heritage is more clearly associated with plagiarism than their ethnicity is. The study was conducted by researchers at California State University-East Bay and published in Human Organization.

Friday, February 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Georgia's legislative leaders have reached a deal on how to preserve the hugely popular HOPE scholarship program: They will limit its benefits, decreasing its value. HOPE has paid full tuition scholarships, plus covered books and fees, at any public college or university in Georgia for those who graduate from high schools in the state with at least a B average. The program is credited with keeping many top students in the state for college -- and it has been running out of money. Under the deal, the Associated Press reported, scholarships would no longer rise with tuition, the book stipend would be cut in half, student fees would no longer be covered, and HOPE funds could not be used for either remedial education or credits in excess of those needed to graduate in four years.

Friday, February 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The Idaho State Board of Education on Thursday suspended the Faculty Senate at Idaho State University, which voted no confidence last week in the university's president, Arthur Vailas, The Spokesman-Review reported. Officials of the board, which governs all public education in the state, said the decision was “the most reasonable action to take at this time" given what it characterized as the disconnect between the faculty and Vailas, for whom the board had recently expressed support. “The impasse between the leadership of the senate group and the administration has reached a point where the prospect of any kind of progress was simply non-existent. It’s time to start over.” The board directed Vailas to develop an interim faculty body, the newspaper reported.

Friday, February 18, 2011 - 3:00am

A 62-year-old man was arrested Thursday for allegedly poisoning some of the old oak trees at a gathering place where Auburn University fans celebrate their sports victories, the Associated Press reported. The man was identified by authorities as the person who called into a radio show and admitted spreading herbicide around the oak trees. On the radio show he closed his comments with a statement of solidarity with the University of Alabama, saying "Roll Damn Tide."

Friday, February 18, 2011 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Education Department is planning four regional community college summits in the next two months, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced Thursday. The goal of the summits, which continue discussions begun last fall at the Jill Biden-hosted White House Summit on Community Colleges, is “to identify promising practices for increasing completion at community colleges.” Each summit has been given a specific focus:

  • Feb. 28, Community College of Philadelphia: “Transitioning Adult Learners to Community Colleges and the Workforce”
  • March 9, Lone Star College System, Houston: “Successful Transfer Programs”
  • March 23, Ivy Tech Community College, Indianapolis: “Partnerships Between Community Colleges and Employers”
  • April 15, San Diego Community College District: “Exemplary Programs for Veterans, Military Members, and Families”

An Education Department announcement notes that “representatives from community colleges, business and industry, philanthropy, labor, state and local government, and students” will be invited to the summits. Though the announcement notes that community college presidents may "kick-off the summits," it does not explicitly mention faculty involvement in them. The lack of faculty members at last fall’s White House summit was a point of contention.

Friday, February 18, 2011 - 3:00am

DePaul University has dropped a requirement that all undergraduate applicants submit either SAT or ACT scores -- and the university says that it is the largest private institution to have made such a shift. The university cited the positive experiences of many colleges and universities that have dropped testing requirements, the correlation between test scores and family income and other factors. Applicants who opt not to submit test scores will be asked to complete some short response essays.

Thursday, February 17, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Union Graduate College's Sean Philpott examines why women around the world are slightly more likely to contract HIV/AIDS than are men, and continuing efforts to address the disparity. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011 - 3:00am

Depression and a loss of financial aid significantly influence college students to consider dropping out -- while events such as a death in the family and students' failure to get into their intended major have little apparent effect on continued enrollment, according to a study by Michigan State University scholars. The study, which was funded by the College Board and is forthcoming in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, used a mathematical model to analyze the "shocks" that promoted 1,158 freshmen at 10 U.S. colleges and universities to withdraw (or not). “Prior to this work, little was known about what factors in a student’s everyday life prompt them to think about withdrawing from college,” said Tim Pleskac, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State. “We now have a method to measure what events are ‘shocking’ students and prompting them to think about quitting.”

Thursday, February 17, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Association of University Professors has launched a formal inquiry in the way the State University of New York at Albany moved to close several language programs. The eliminations -- which the university has said are necessary due to tight budgets -- have been criticized by professors at Albany and nationally. Some have focused on the wisdom of a university that boasts about its global ambitions scaling back language programs. Others have questioned whether there was appropriate faculty consultation. The inquiry by the AAUP, a letter it sent to the university said, will focus on "the academic and educational ramifications for a prominent research university to end such programs" and "the bases and the methods for reaching the decisions," among other issues.

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