The British government has urged universities to develop "fast track" college degrees that could be finished in two years instead of the traditional three, The Guardian reported. Government officials said such degrees could save money both for students and the government. University and student groups are skeptical of the idea.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Oppenheimer Funds, Inc. announced Tuesday that it had agreed to pay $77 million to the State of Illinois to settle a lawsuit over the company's management of the state's college savings plan. Illinois had alleged in the lawsuit that the company had invested money invested by families participating in the Bright Start 529 savings plan in riskier investments, resulting in big losses in 2008. Oppenheimer admits no wrongdoing in the settlement, but the money it agreed to pay will be distributed to participants in the program. Oppenheimer had previously settled with New Mexico and Oregon.
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania has pledged to improve the women's softball field and provide additional funds for women's athletics to settle a reopened lawsuit under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The university settled a Title IX suit two years ago, but it was reopened after some female athletes said that the university failed to follow through on all of its pledges to improve opportunities for women's programs. While the university denied wrongdoing, it agreed to the additional enhancements.
The University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa already is on record in favor of skipping a few days of classes to allow students to attend the national championship of college football. Football, it seems, also trumps the legal system. The Christian Science Monitor reported that a state judge agreed to delay a civil trial so lawyers could attend the game. One lawyer's motion requesting the delay said: "Such an event only comes infrequently during a person’s lifetime and is an achievement of such a magnitude that all involved in this litigation should want everyone to fully participate in this achievement."
Ain Shams University, in Cairo, has announced that it will appeal a court ruling allowing its female students to wear a full face veil - the niqab - in campus dormitories, AFP reported. Many Egyptian educators have opposed the wearing of the niqab on campus, and another court ruling is expected soon on a university ban on the niqab during exams. The court's ruling in the Ain Shams case, however, said that wearing the face veil "is one example of freedom that no administrative body or any other body can ban."
"My Lazy American Students," an op-ed in The Boston Globe, is attracting considerable online debate. The piece -- by Kara Miller, who teaches history and rhetoric at Babson College -- compares her American and foreign students. "My 'C,' 'D,' and 'F' students this semester are almost exclusively American, while my students from India, China, and Latin America have -- despite language barriers -- generally written solid papers, excelled on exams, and become valuable class participants," writes Miller. She compares the way her foreign students listen to everything she says, while "[t]oo many 18-year-old Americans, meanwhile, text one another under their desks (certain they are sly enough to go unnoticed), check e-mail, decline to take notes, and appear tired and disengaged." Reader reactions vary widely. Some credit Miller with drawing attention to a real problem. Others say she doesn't understand higher education. Wrote one commenter: "Sorry, teach, but our American kids know that college is for boozing, drugs and hooking up. They'll start working hard when it matters -- the day they get their first job."
Sen. Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, managed to insert a provision in the Senate's version of health care legislation that would provide $100 million for a university hospital that he hopes will be the one at the University of Connecticut, The Hartford Courant reported. The provision was written without identifying UConn. Rather, it calls for the funds to go to an academic health center at a public research university that includes a state's only public medical and dental schools. UConn fits the criteria, but so do medical centers in about a dozen other states.
The National Institutes of Health is planning to propose new rules for researchers receiving its grants, requiring that they disclose financial ties to medical entities and barring them from publishing articles that are "ghostwritten" by drug company officials, USA Today reported. The proposed rules follow Congressional inquiries into reports of conflicts of interest by some prominent biomedical researchers.
An adjunct humanities professor has sued the president of Edison Community College, in Ohio, over the president’s refusal to rehire him because he videotaped a contentious board meeting. Quincy Essinger filed a complaint in federal court against Kenneth A. Yowell -- who has led the college for more than 22 years -- five months after Inside Higher Ed reported on the ouster of Essinger and Stephen D. Marlowe, a full-time English professor. Essinger is seeking financial damages for a range of charges against Yowell ranging from defamation to having his First Amendment rights violated. Both Essinger and Marlowe were publicly critical of Yowell and were active in a faculty vote of no confidence in his leadership earlier this year. Marlowe was reinstated in July, after it was noted that he was terminated in violation of his contract. Essinger, however, has not been in contact with the college since and has never been given a formal reason for his not being rehired. Mindy McNutt, former Edison vice president, and Yowell told Inside Higher Ed in July that Essinger’s having videotaped the board meeting was one of Yowell’s reasons for not rehiring him. Monday, Yowell wrote, via e-mail, that Essinger's suit against him and the college "has no merit" and "is replete with factual errors."
Faculty members at Indiana University of Pennsylvania have voted overwhelmingly that they lack confidence in the leadership of President Tony Atwater, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Faculty leaders criticized the president's management style and spending decisions. Atwater, who attended the meeting, said that much of the faculty frustration was based on the difficulty of the decisions he has had to make and misinformation about them.