Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 3:00am

Charley Cooper, a Georgetown University sophomore whose ad for a personal assistant has attracted attention (much of it mocking) on blogs and here at Inside Higher Ed, has come forth to defend himself. Cooper told The Washington Post that he was very busy, and was just trying to get things done. While hiring an assistant may be unusual, the article noted that many Georgetown students use laundry services or other businesses that cater to their needs. Cooper said he has received a number of applications for the position and plans to start interviews soon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 3:00am

The University of Texas at Austin has abandoned a controversial plan to cut the foreign language requirement in its College of Liberal Arts from 16 to 12 credits. In an e-mail sent this week to the faculty, Randy Diehl, the dean of the college, noted that at a faculty meeting to discuss the idea, "[i]n three and a half hours of give and take, not one audience member spoke in favor of the proposal.... In view of the overwhelming negative reaction to the proposal, I have decided to withdraw it from further consideration."

Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 3:00am

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents is facing intense lobbying to limit stem cell research, now that the Obama administration has cleared the way for far more use of stem cells than was allowed by the Bush administration in federally backed studies. The Omaha World-Herald reported that Nebraska Right to Life, which endorsed five of the regents when they won their board seats, is urging them to limit research at the universities to studies that would have been permitted under the Bush policy. Scientists opposed that policy as far too restrictive.

Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 3:00am

A rejected applicant has filed a suit -- hoping for a class action -- against the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign over its now defunct "clout" admissions system of favoring candidates with political connections, the Chicago Tribune reported. The suit seeks more than $5 million in damages on behalf of all "non-clout" applicants who were rejected from 1999 to 2009. The plaintiff, who was wait-listed and then rejected, noted that the admissions materials he reviewed before applying did not indicate that any preferences would be based on political connections. University officials declined to comment, but have hired a law firm in anticipation of such suits.

Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 3:00am

The Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy at California State University at Sacramento released a report Wednesday, urging community college educators to make better use of data to improve the outcome of their students. The report recommends that educators look for “intermediate educational achievements that students reach along the path to degree completion,” and “academic patterns students follow including remediation, gateway courses, and credit accumulation, that help predict milestone achievement.” Among other recommendations to improve student outcomes, the report suggests that college should alter policies to “encourage more full-time enrollment” and to “encourage more students to take appropriate courses and complete courses in which they enroll.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 3:00am

Geert Wilders, an anti-Islamic Dutch politician, was escorted from a stage at Temple University Tuesday night, cutting short a question period when some in the audience started to shout jeers at him, the Associated Press reported. The talk was sponsored by the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 3:00am

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a watchdog group, has issued a report strongly backing Rick Steiner, who has accused federal officials of getting him removed from receiving funds from the National Sea Grant Program and his administrators at the University of Alaska of going along with the decision and failing to stand behind his academic freedom. Steiner says that he has been punished for championing environmental causes that offend the oil industry and the public employee group found evidence to back that view. The university's president, Mark Hamilton, has recently issued a final rejection of Steiner's claims, consistent with earlier statements from the university denying that it had done anything wrong. In a strongly worded analysis of the situation, the public employee group's director said: “President Hamilton seems to believe that his faculty still enjoys academic freedom even while he permits imposition of penalties for views simply because they conflict with the university’s financial backers – big oil. This decision suggests that the University of Alaska is to academic freedom what Burma is to open political debate.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 3:00am

In another sign of change in for-profit higher education, Corinthian Colleges, Inc. announced Tuesday that it was buying Heald College, a regionally accredited institution that is based in San Francisco and operates 11 campuses with about 12,300 students. Corinthian's announcement came a day after Princeton Review announced that it would buy Penn Foster Education Group, Inc.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 3:00am

Richard H. Herman announced his resignation Tuesday as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Herman was faulted by many on campus -- and by a special state review -- for enabling and participating in a since-disbanded system that gave preferential admissions to politically connected applicants. While Herman said that he sought to minimize such activity and to advance the university's political interests, a reconstituted board was conducting a review of whether he should stay on. By leaving now, Herman will forfeit a $300,000 bonus he would have received at the end of his contract. Herman will, in the short term, advise the university on math and science education issues and will later return to the faculty. An e-mail circulated on the campus said that Stanley O. Ikenberry, who was appointed this month to replace B. Joseph White as president of the University of Illinois system, and Interim Provost Robert Easter will lead the Urbana-Champaign campus temporarily (an interim chancellor will not be hired).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 3:00am

Canisius College on Tuesday named John J. Hurley as the institution's next president; he will become the second Hurley brother to lead a Roman Catholic college in Buffalo. Hurley is currently the college’s executive vice president and vice president for college relations and will be the first lay president at Canisius. Paul Hurley, one of his brothers, is president of nearby Trocaire College. While there are and have been in the past other sibling presidents, the Hurley family may have the potential for a wider reach than most. Another brother is Dan Hurley, assistant vice president for government and community relations at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University.

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