Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, October 11, 2010 - 3:00am

Michael A. McRobbie, president of Indiana University, plans today to celebrate his 60th birthday by becoming a U.S. citizen, The Bloomington Herald-Times reported. McRobbie, who is Australian, came to Indiana in 1997 to become vice president for information technology. He held a series of other senior positions before becoming president in 2007. McRobbie said that, as a permanent resident, he has not faced any difficulties in doing his job. He explained his rationale to the Herald-Times this way: "I've thought of myself as a local for a long, long time now, and so from that point of view, I'm sort of formalizing a situation that already exists.... But it is an acknowledgment that I've settled down here. This is home, and I want to make that formally and legally true in every possible way."

Friday, October 8, 2010 - 3:00am

Faculty members at the University of Louisville on Thursday subdued a graduate student who took out a loaded gun during a meeting, apparently planning to kill herself, the Associated Press reported. Faculty members jumped on the student when she took out the gun and said, "Well I guess this is it." There were no injuries.

Friday, October 8, 2010 - 3:00am

Westwood College Online has stopped enrolling new students in Wisconsin amid a dispute with the state board that regulates for-profit colleges in the state, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. While Westwood is complying at least for now with a demand by the state board that it stop operations in the state, the college maintains that the board is exceeding its authority.

Friday, October 8, 2010 - 3:00am

The faculty of the Sage Colleges voted last week to end the requirement of the SAT or ACT for undergraduate admissions at Russell Sage College and the Sage College of Albany. Terry Weiner, Sage’s provost, said in a statement that the colleges have found high school grades and class rank to be the best ways to predict college success. Weiner added: "In this time of economic distress students should not have to choose between expensive cram courses or tutoring for these tests, or worry about losing ground in the competition for college admission."

Virginia Wesleyan College, meanwhile, announced that it was going test-optional for all prospective freshmen with a grade-point average of 3.5 in a college preparatory curriculum.

Friday, October 8, 2010 - 3:00am

Many students in California held protests Thursday over budget cuts to higher education. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that thousands of students rallied at the University of California at Berkeley, with some of them occupying one of the campus libraries. While the most recent budget news for higher education in California has been positive, rally organizers said that serious damage had been done to the state's universities in recent years -- well beyond what can be repaired with modest gains this year.

Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 3:00am

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2010 was awarded to Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian author, "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat." The Nobel committee released this biography of the winner, along with lists of his books available in various languages.

Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- Given how nasty and speculative the political and policy debate over the quality and value of for-profit colleges has become in recent weeks and months, there was reason to hope that a forum this week at which researchers aligned with and critical of the industry would present their work to a group of peers convened by the American Enterprise Institute might generate at least a little light. But while the dueling presentations by the Institute for College Access and Success and the Parthenon Group stopped well short of a "Jane, you ignorant slut"-style point-counterpoint, they also did not lead the assembled researchers, policy analysts and others where some of the participants hoped they might: to agreement, at the least, about what the appropriate questions are to be asked, and what data policy makers need (and don't have) to answer them.

This is partly because the researchers -- while lower-key and more objective than their political allies (in the case of the college access institute) or paying customers (in the case of Parthenon) -- largely "stayed in their trenches," said Eric Bettinger, an education professor at Stanford University, and "showed that you can use the exact same set of data to make it dance the way you want it to," as Craig Powell, CEO of ConnectEDU, described it. But the hopes for coalescing around a set of legitimate measures of institutional quality and student success were foiled also by recognition of the inadequacy of the available data. The current sources of data are not up to the task, and sources that might provide it -- like a database of student-level information that would allow policy makers to track students who move amid numerous institutions, and permit comparisons between different types of colleges -- may not be politically viable.

Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 3:00am

A new poll from the Pew Center on the States and the Public Policy Institute of California finds that the public is much less likely to back tax increases for higher education than it is for elementary and secondary education. The poll looked at five states: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois and New York. In all five states, more than 60 percent of voters said that they would back tax increases for elementary and secondary education, and majorities said that they would do so for health and human services. For higher education, support topped 40 percent in all five states, but did not hit a majority in any of them.

Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 3:00am

Officials in Turkey are quietly easing bans on the wearing of Islamic headscarves at universities, The Wall Street Journal reported. The head of Turkey's Higher Education Board recently ordered Istanbul University to bar professors from kicking students out of classes. That move followed an incident where a professor ejected a student for wearing a hat (which is what some students wear instead of a head scarf). Students at the university report that they have been told that they may wear headscarves, and some women have started doing so.

Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 3:00am

John F. Kennedy University this week removed a garden over which it had been sued by a graduate student who uses a wheelchair, the San Jose Mercury News reported. The student charged that the garden was not accessible to those with disabilities, but he said that he wanted to open it up to all, not to have it eliminated. Supporters of the garden said that they were stunned by the development because they had raised much of the money needed to make the garden accessible.

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