Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Rutgers University has returned a Renaissance-era painting stolen by the Nazis to the grandson of the real owners, the Associated Press reported. The Jewish couple who owned "Portrait of a Young Man," a 1509 work by the German painter Hans Baldung Grien, made a deal to trade a group of paintings for their freedom, but the Nazis took the art and still sent the couple to death camps. A grandson tracked the painting to the art gallery at Rutgers, which had been given the painting by a dealer in 1959. Suzanne Delehanty, director of the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers, said that when she learned the history of the painting, "we decided right away we wanted to do the right thing."

Monday, January 17, 2011 - 3:00am

The Faculty Senate of South Carolina State University last week voted no confidence in President George Cooper, The Post and Courier reported. Faculty leaders cited significant financial problems, a lack of commitment to principles of shared governance and the absence of a vision for the future of the university. Cooper's lawyer told the newspaper that "Dr. Cooper takes the position that the Faculty Senate does not reflect the full faculty at South Carolina State University."

Monday, January 17, 2011 - 3:00am

A University of Rochester undergraduate was stabbed fatally at a fraternity party and another student has been charged in the murder, The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported. Authorities said that the two students had a disagreement that predated the party. Officials at California State University at Northridge, meanwhile, think they may have averted a tragedy with the arrest of a student found to have a shotgun and bomb-making materials in his dormitory room, Reuters reported. In another incident that could have been a tragedy, someone with a gun fired five shots into a glass door of a dormitory at Baker University, in Kansas, early Sunday morning, but students were not injured, The Kansas City Star reported. Authorities are investigating whether the former boyfriend of a resident of the dormitory is responsible.

Monday, January 17, 2011 - 3:00am

Nicolaus Ramos paid his tuition bill at the University of Colorado at Boulder in an unusual way -- with more than $14,000 in one-dollar bills, The Sacramento Bee reported. The idea behind this nearly 30-pound payment was to draw attention to the rising cost of higher education.

Friday, January 14, 2011 - 3:00am

In a statement published in this week's issue of Science magazine, a group of biologists call on universities to embrace a set of policies that will encourage faculty members to pay as much attention to their teaching as to their research activities. The essay (for which a subscription is required to read the entire text), by scholars at 11 major universities, says that "[t]o establish an academic culture that encourages science faculty to be equally committed to their teaching and research missions, universities must more broadly and effectively recognize, reward, and support the efforts of researchers who are also excellent and dedicated teachers." It urges the adoption of a set of policies and practices -- including making more real the purported emphasis on teaching in tenure reviews, and increasing professors' training in the science of teaching and learning -- that could help change that picture.

Friday, January 14, 2011 - 3:00am

The governing board of University College of the North, a Canadian institution committed to aboriginal students and cultures, decided not to renew the president's contract because she sided with academics concerned about a mandatory two-day course "traditions and change" course and because she hired two non-aboriginal senior administrators, The Winnipeg Free Press reported. Critics have said that the course is about promoting "white guilt," the newspaper reported, but the board has made it a requirement for all students and staff members. Denise Henning, the president, has since accepted as president of Northwest Community College, in British Columbia.

Friday, January 14, 2011 - 3:00am

It's that time of year. The most competitive private colleges in admissions typically announce their application totals and typically set records. Stanford University is up 7 percent; Duke University is up 10 percent; Dartmouth College is up 16 percent.

While these and similar institutions are dealing with a flurry of applications, a literal blizzard in the Southeastern United States is leading some institutions to extend application deadlines that the winter weather may have made difficult to meet. Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia are all extending deadlines, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Friday, January 14, 2011 - 3:00am

Educators have long worried about students who "choke" on key exams. A University of Chicago study, published this week in Science, finds that if such students are given the opportunity to write about the worries 10 minutes before the test, their anxiety is reduced and their performance on the test improves substantially.

Friday, January 14, 2011 - 3:00am

SAN ANTONIO — The National Collegiate Athletic Association released Thursday at its convention the results of its second comprehensive survey of athletes, revealing their opinions about myriad academic and athletic issues. The Growth, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Learning of Students in College (or GOALS) study noted, among other findings, that the opportunity to play a certain sport was the most-reported reason for choosing a specific institution. Academics was second, followed closely by the institution’s proximity to home. Most athletes felt that their “pre-college expectations regarding academics and time demands were generally accurate” but that their “perceptions of the athletics and social experience in college were less accurate.”

Friday, January 14, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of California at Berkeley, facing a new round of state budget cuts over the next year, on Thursday announced plans to eliminate 280 positions, 150 of them through layoffs and the rest through retirements or other means, The San Jose Mercury News reported. No faculty positions will be eliminated, but officials stressed that a range of income levels were covered, with about one-fourth of the positions being eliminated having salaries of $100,000 or above.

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