Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - 3:00am

The White House on Monday released a report on the impact of federal stimulus funds on state budgets for education, with most of the attention in the report -- similar to the way most of the funds were used -- focused on K-12. The report finds that $2.2 billion of the $13.1 billion spent on education in the last academic year went to higher ed, and that $3.2 billion of the $20.3 billion to be spent this academic year will go to higher education. The report also features figures for individual states.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - 3:00am

Vox Populi, a Georgetown University blog, has identified a sophomore whose ad for a personal assistant "takes premature self-importance to a whole new level." The ad describes duties this way: "PA example tasks -Organize closet -make bed -Drop off / pick up dry cleaning -Drop me off / pick me up from work -Do laundry -Fill up gas tank -bring car for servicing -schedule appointment for haircut -Pay parking tickets -manage electronic accounts -shopping and running errands -other random tasks." The pay is hourly, but the student isn't just opening his wallet. Consider this description of how time will be counted: "Tasks such as doing laundry that involve a lot of waiting around (time when you could be doing other tasks or doing your own stuff) will be counted for the approximate amount of time it would take to do the labor involved. For instance, laundry will be counted for half an hour even though a laundry cycle takes 1.5 hrs to complete." A Georgetown spokeswoman confirmed that the position is a real posting, and that the job remains open. That is all.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - 3:00am

Seattle University suddenly removed its dean of admissions, Michael McKeon, last month, following an off year in the enrollment of freshmen, The Seattle Times reported. While McKeon and senior administrators are not talking about his departure, shifts in admissions strategy are prompting discussion on the campus, where some fear that McKeon's emphasis on attracting minority and low-income students will be replaced by one on attracting more students who can pay. Seattle enrolled 747 freshmen this year, missing the university's target by 10 percent. Meanwhile Gonzaga University, also a Jesuit university in Washington States, is seeing enrollment increases.

Monday, October 19, 2009 - 3:00am

Following an intense lobbying drive by colleges and students in Illinois, a new law will authorize about 137,000 low-income students to receive their state grants for the spring semester. The grants were endangered because the state -- facing a budget crisis -- cut $200 million from the program. But the Chicago Tribune reported that Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation allowing the state to borrow money for the grants from other state funds.

Monday, October 19, 2009 - 3:00am

Harding University announced Friday that it will consider the new state lottery in Arkansas to be off limits to students, the Associated Press reported. The new lottery supports college scholarships, and Harding officials earlier said that the university's ban on gambling did not apply to the lottery. David Burks, president of the university, which is affiliated with the Church of Christ, said: "My intention [in the original policy] was to express in our policy the reality that it will be very difficult to enforce any prohibition against the lottery. In an attempt to avoid one appearance of hypocrisy, I made a decision that has itself come to be viewed as hypocritical." While several public universities in the state ban gambling on campus, their policies do not apply to student conduct off campus. Religious colleges in the state, however, typically have student codes of conduct that extend off campus. The AP said that Ouachita Baptist University considers the lottery to be included in its ban against gambling. John Brown University, a nondenominational Christian college, has a policy discouraging gambling by students, but officials told the AP that there would likely be little punishment for students who play the lottery.

Monday, October 19, 2009 - 3:00am

Gallaudet University named T. Alan Hurwitz as its next president on Sunday. Hurwitz has spent most of his professional career at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, where he started teaching engineering in 1970 and rose through the ranks to become president. NTID is part of the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Hurwitz also serves as an RIT vice president. Not only does Hurwitz have extensive experience in deaf education, but he is deaf -- which is seen as important by many students, professors and alumni. Hurwitz will follow Robert Davila, who also preceded him at NTID and who was named to a lengthy interim presidency at Gallaudet in 2007. That appointment followed a presidential search that divided the campus and the deaf community, when Gallaudet's board in 2006 named Jane K. Fernandes, then the provost, to become president. But after months of protests, which at times effectively shut down the institution, the board withdrew its offer. Davila's leadership is generally credited with calming the campus, as well as addressing key issues, such as an accreditor's complaints that were resolved last year.

Monday, October 19, 2009 - 3:00am

The latest trend in college football recruiting is in the air: helicopters. The New York Times reported that helicopters, which tend to cause an intended commition when they touch down near a high school football field on a Friday night, are now being used by at least eight major football programs to impress high school players: Louisiana State and Rutgers Universities, and the Universities of California at Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri.

Monday, October 19, 2009 - 3:00am

While the admissions cycle for next fall's enrollments is just getting started, there are signs that public institutions may again be flooded with applications. The California State University System, which on October 1 opened applications for fall 2010 enrollment, reported that it received 111,140 applications through October 15, compared to 62,520 during the similar time period a year ago. All 23 campuses are accepting applications through November 30; at least 12 may stop accepting applications for some or all programs after that date.

Monday, October 19, 2009 - 3:00am

A gesture from the new leader of a South African university is sparking a new debate over an ugly incident. Jonathan Jansen, the new rector of the University of the Free State, is the first black leader of the institution, which is in an Afrikaner dominated area. AFP reported that in his inaugural speech Friday, Jansen announced that the university would drop disciplinary charges against four white students who were found to have produced a video last year in which black workers were humiliated by being given food on which students had urinated. In his speech, Jansen said that letting the students return to the university would be "a model of racial reconciliation." But the African National Congress and other groups have denounced that stance.

Monday, October 19, 2009 - 3:00am

More colleges are making portions smaller and adding nutritious ingredients (sometimes without telling) in efforts to encourage healthier eating habits in students, The Boston Globe reported. Among the changes: Smaller portions at Wellesley College, Tufts University, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, vegetables that are added to plates at Merrimack College when students ask for meat entrees, a reduction in the size of ice cream servings at Babson College, and a secret switch in the chocolate chip cookie recipe at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to one based on whole wheat.

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