Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, January 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Chicago State University wants its statue back. A columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times revealed Friday that a $25,000 statue of an African slave (bought by the university with state funds that were earmarked for a financial aid center) is apparently now in the possession of State Rep. Monique Davis. The column reported that the university -- where a new president is trying to get finances and management under control after a series of financial scandals -- doesn't know how the statue got lost, but wants it back. Davis has been refusing to return the statue, despite multiple requests from the university. On Saturday, the Sun-Times reported that Davis was seeking a legal opinion before announcing her plans for the 400-pound work of art.

Monday, January 25, 2010 - 3:00am

The body of one of the Lynn University students missing in Haiti has been found and her family members have been informed, WPBF News 25 reported Sunday. She was apparently killed immediately after the devastating earthquake. Three other students and two faculty members from Lynn are unaccounted for. Reports from Haiti suggest that the efforts there have shifted from those aimed at rescuing survivors to those aimed at recovering bodies of those killed. The parents of one of the missing Lynn students who have been particularly outspoken in urging intensified rescue operations ended a vigil they have kept at Lynn's campus in Florida and returned to Massachusetts. In remarks Thursday evening, Lynn's president, Kevin M. Ross, stressed the importance of recovering all of those caught in the earthquake -- even if they did not survive. "This is needed for every grieving father, son, mother, daughter, friend and neighbor who is aching at this very moment for a phone call. Whenever that phone call comes, I join the families of our missing six in demanding that such a call contain news of the whereabouts of the missing. A missing family member, whether alive or dead, must be returned to his or her loved ones," he said. At the same time, he said that the university was not giving up hope, saying "We still believe in miracles."

Monday, January 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Applications are up! It's that time of year; the press is full of reports about colleges -- mostly the elites but others too -- reporting surges in applications, and there is detailed analysis of the relative size of the increases at Princeton vs. Harvard and so forth. A few words of caution: Most of the colleges capturing headlines were very difficult to get into last year, and the year before, and the year before that too, so the shift is less dramatic than it might seem. At the many colleges a notch or three below in competitiveness, college presidents will freely admit when not being quoted by name that they have more applications because lots of families are shopping for the best aid packages possible, and that applying doesn't necessarily mean serious interest. At many of these colleges, in fact, the number of applicants admitted may actually go up in anticipation of lower yields (the percentage of admitted students who actually enroll).

Friday, January 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Tennessee legislators have approved legislation -- expected to soon be signed into law -- that would ease the transfer of students from community colleges to four-year institutions, and would shift much of the state's funding of higher ed from a formula based on enrollment to one based on graduation rates, The Tennessean reported. The idea behind the legislation is to motivate colleges to focus on degree completion and to raise graduation rates, but critics fear it could encourage college to minimize academic standards so more students get through.

Friday, January 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Colleges in a tracking project of the American College Health Association are continuing to report fewer new cases of H1N1 or similar illnesses, but some campuses are reporting gains in the percentage of students who have been vaccinated. Nationally, only about 9 percent of students at the colleges being tracked have been vaccinated. But the association is now reporting that with increased availability of the vaccine, some campuses report rates in the 25-30 percent range. Details are available on the association's Web site.

Friday, January 22, 2010 - 3:00am

The Gateway to College Program, which helps high school dropouts and near-dropouts finish high school while they get a start on college-level courses, is announcing today $13 million in grants from four foundations to expand to 15 more community colleges and in some new directions. The program now works with 24 two-year institutions in 15 states, including Portland Community College in Oregon, where it was founded. The grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Kresge Foundation will add to that list and also expand the program to 18- to 26-year-olds, in a pilot program at nine colleges.

Friday, January 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Government officials in India have removed university status from 44 institutions, saying that reviews of them raised questions about their quality, BBC News reported. Government officials say that they will take steps to assure that the 200,000 students currently enrolled at the institutions are not hurt by the change in status for the institutions, but many of the students (and some of the educators at the institutions) are protesting.

Friday, January 22, 2010 - 3:00am

The Irish government has proposed breaking up the National University of Ireland, and letting its individual universities and colleges largely manage themselves, The Irish Times reported. The government says that the individual institutions would be able to offer the same educational programs, and that funds would be saved. Leaders of the national university system are denouncing the plan -- both for its substance and a lack of consultation. The four universities in the confederation are University College Dublin, University College Cork, National University of Ireland at Galway and National University of Ireland at Maynooth.

Friday, January 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Several Christian institutions have in recent months announced purchases of fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Robert Cargill, instructional technology coordinator for the University of California at Los Angeles Center for Digital Humanities and chief architect and designer of the Qumran Visualization Project, found an interesting way to critique this trend. On his blog, he revealed the (fake) news that various fragments and other key artifacts were being bought up by the University of Phoenix, DeVry and other for-profit universities. His fake DeVry statement says: "This fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls, although small, shows DeVry’s commitment to being a leader in the online university/alternative education market. Big things come in small packages, and this single aleph is the ‘A’ for effort that will make DeVry a major player in the world of higher education. Look out Harvard! DeVry knows a little about the Bible too. In fact, we now own a part of it."

Thursday, January 21, 2010 - 3:00am

Northwestern College, in Minnesota, is facing an "identity crisis," The Star Tribune reported. Some students and alumni accuse the college of trying to weed out traditional professors and trustees and to shift toward a "postmodern" theology, the newspaper said. Administrators and trustees say that no philosophical shift has taken place and that the controversy is all the work of a small group of disgruntled alumni.

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