Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, February 8, 2010 - 3:00am

Organizers of the Secular Students of Concordia are trying to get officials of the Minnesota college to reconsider their refusal to recognize the organization, The Fargo-Moorhead Forum reported. College officials said that they could not recognize a group committed to ideals that conflict with those of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with which the college is affiliated. On the organization's Facebook group, the club says its goals are to "to organize and gather students with interest and/or belief in the secular ways of thinking," "to inform and encourage the campus community about secularism, secular values and theories, and seeing these as adequate alternatives to religion" and to "enforce a greater tolerance towards secular beliefs, both on and off campus."

Monday, February 8, 2010 - 3:00am

The case of a first-year student at the University of Oxford, apparently admitted courtesy of a high school and testing record he didn't earn, has led to increased scrutiny of the admissions system there, Times Higher Education reported. The student in question reported 10 A-grade A-level exams, a notable accomplishment in the British system -- except that it was false. A teacher's recommendation was also forged. The Times Higher reported that the student, who has been suspended, was admitted through a program for applicants who are not sponsored by schools, and that questions have been raised by critics about whether such applicants' materials receive enough scrutiny.

Monday, February 8, 2010 - 3:00am

In the last decade, the number of cheating cases considered by Stanford University's judicial board has more than doubled, to 123 from 52, The San Jose Mercury News reported. Stanford officials attributed the increase both to more cheating and more reporting by faculty members. University analysis found that although computer science students make up 6.5 percent of Stanford's students, they accounted for 23 percent of violations of the university's honors code.

Monday, February 8, 2010 - 3:00am

New research from the University of Bristol finds that, in Britain at least, people who own a cat are more likely than those who own dogs to have a university degree, the BBC reported. According to the study, 47.2 percent of households with a cat have at least one person with a university degree, while the figure is only 38.4 percent for those with a dog. One theory suggested for this pet gap is that the university graduates have jobs with longer working hours that may make it more difficult to care for a dog.

Monday, February 8, 2010 - 3:00am

A special commission to study the future of the University of California is hearing a wide range of ideas, but not all observers believe the commission is the best approach to finding the right ideas, the Los Angeles Times reported. The commission has been hearing ideas such as offering three-year undergraduate degrees, increasing the use of online education, and replacing tuition with post-graduation fees based on income. Critics, however, say that California needs a broader look at all of higher education in the state, and how it is financed.

Monday, February 8, 2010 - 3:00am

The College Art Association is the latest academic association to report significant declines in available faculty jobs. The association's career center (which doesn't have all art faculty jobs, but which is a good tool for measuring the job market) listed 1,263 positions in the 2009 fiscal year, a decline of 28 percent from the year before. Studio art positions declined by 31 percent and art history positions by 14 percent -- with the first six months of the 2010 fiscal year showing further shrinkage of the academic job market.

Monday, February 8, 2010 - 3:00am

Gay students and supporters at John Carroll University staged a sit-in on the basketball court prior to the start of a game last week to protest the university's refusal to add sexual orientation to the official anti-bias policy at the institution. The protest, filmed and then placed on YouTube, ended when students were escorted -- without arrests -- from the court. University officials noted that draft "community standards" being prepared by the university explicitly protect gay and lesbian students and would bar discrimination against them. Officials said that the employment policy that does not include sexual orientation is based on state and federal statutes, which do not cover sexual orientation. "Rather than rely on the limitations provided under current federal and state law, the university strives to achieve a much higher standard based upon its Jesuit and Catholic mission and teachings," said a statement from the university.

Monday, February 8, 2010 - 3:00am

Eastern colleges seeking to increase their Latino enrollments are starting to add admissions materials and programs in Spanish, the Associated Press reported. Bryn Mawr College started a Spanish version of its Web site. And the University of Pennsylvania is conducting some college admissions sessions in Spanish. Officials said that these efforts are in large part about reaching the families of prospective students, who play an important part in students' college decisions.

Monday, February 8, 2010 - 3:00am

Need more evidence of the disconnect between big-time college sports and the institutions to which they are appended? The University of Southern California's football team has committed one of its football scholarships for the 2015 entering class to David Sills, a 13-year-old quarterback at a middle school in Delaware, The News-Journal of Wilmington reported. Lane Kiffin, the new coach at Southern Cal, made a similar signing of a 13-year-old last year when he was at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and that player is presumably out of luck now that Kiffin has moved on to USC. Sills told ESPN that Southern Cal has always been his "dream school." Reports that USC's admissions office is offering slots in its 2015 undergraduate class to several very talented middle school mathematicians are false.

Monday, February 8, 2010 - 3:00am

Whether the great blizzard of 2010 was a fun adventure, a distracting annoyance or some of each all depends on where in mid-Atlantic higher education you sit.

For the Association of Community College Trustees, the timing could not have been worse. Its National Legislative Summit was scheduled to start today in Washington, with many attendees scheduled to arrive over the weekend on flights that never took off. For much of the weekend, the ACCT tried to encourage attendance, even posting photos on its Web site of association leaders shoveling snow outside the meeting hotel. But late Sunday, the association called off plans to meet this week and said it would try to reschedule for March. A majority of attendees would be unable to make it to Washington this week. Further, the announcement noted, a major goal of the meeting is for community college leaders to meet with members of Congress and government officials, many of whom will not be working in their offices today or tomorrow.

Many students in the Washington-Baltimore area got some time off from later Friday through (in some cases) today, and many weekend classes and other events were called off. Colleges generally used Web sites to let students know where they could find dining services operating. As these photographs from The Diamondback show, students at the University of Maryland at College Park held a massive snowball fight. At Shenandoah University, students built this 10-foot-plus snowman, and also volunteered in the dining halls at the cooking and cleaning jobs of employees who lived too far away to get to campus. While many students worried about finding provisions for Super Bowl parties, St. John's College announced that a ban by Annapolis authorities on vehicular travel made it impossible to get food delivered for the scheduled party to honor the completion of senior essays, and so the event planned for Sunday would need to be postponed. (All the seniors did get their essays in, however, the college reported.)

Saturday was a big standardized testing day, but many testing centers were unable to open for scheduled administrations of the ACT and the LSAT -- new dates for the exams are expected soon.

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