Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, September 14, 2009 - 3:00am

Morgan State University has set off an unusual debate by challenging the right of University of Maryland University College to start a doctoral program to train community college administrators, The Baltimore Sun reported. Morgan State is a historically black college and Maryland, like other states that once operated segregated higher education systems, has policies designed to block other state institutions from starting degrees programs near black colleges that would compete with their offerings. Such questions have in the past involved other colleges that are, like Morgan State, in the Baltimore area. The challenge to an online program is new, although the idea is similar in that Morgan State says that it shouldn't have competition for its program for community college administrators. The state's secretary of higher education will rule on Morgan State's complaint. Because state authorities have already given UMUC the right to offer the program to students outside the state, a ruling in Morgan State's favor would result in a state university being able to offer a program only to those outside its home state.

Monday, September 14, 2009 - 3:00am

Colleges and universities in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (all three divisions) plan to add 174 teams over the next two years and cut 59, according to a survey by the Associated Press. An article on the survey noted that while some colleges cut teams for economic reasons, many add teams for economic reasons, seeing them as key to their enrollment or other strategies.

Friday, September 11, 2009 - 3:00am

The U.S. government's top copyright official criticized the settlement between Google and copyright holders over the company's controversial Google Books project, saying the arrangement is "not a settlement at all" but an "end run around legislative process and prerogatives" that could "dramatically compromise the legal rights" of authors and publishers. "Allowing Google to continue to scan millions of books into the future, on a rolling schedule with no deadline, is tantamount to creating a private compulsory license through the judiciary," Marybeth Peters, register of copyrights in the U.S. Copyright Office, said in testimony before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Thursday. "This is not to say that a compulsory license or collective license for book digitization projects may or may not be an interesting idea. Rather, our point is that such decisions are the domain of Congress and must be weighed openly and deliberately, and with a clear sense of both the beneficiaries and the public objective." A federal judge is weighing arguments, including some from faculty and other academic groups, in deciding whether to approve the settlement announced in 2005. Thursday's hearing also included witnesses from Google, Amazon, the University of Chicago and the National Federation for the Blind; all of the testimony can be found here.

Friday, September 11, 2009 - 3:00am

A plan to increase charges at the University of California would result in students paying more than $10,000 annually by next fall in fees (which in every other state would be called tuition), an increase of 44 percent since the fall of 2008, the Los Angeles Times reported. The increases -- now under consideration by the Board of Regents -- are a response to deep cuts in state support.

Friday, September 11, 2009 - 3:00am

The American Council on Education announced a new round of grants to encourage colleges to offer flexibility to professors seeking to advance their careers while also handling family responsibilities. Among the winners: Bowdoin College, which will use the funds to continue its work to accommodate partners using half-time tenure-track positions, job sharing for academic couples, and a "research associate" title for partners seeking an institutional affiliation. Washington and Lee University will receive funds to provide more options for child care, offer technological alternatives to compensate for necessary time away from campus, and create a "culture of acceptance for flexible career trajectories." Information on all the awards may be found here.

Friday, September 11, 2009 - 3:00am

State and other policymakers should be wary of making decisions based upon college rankings, says a report issued Thursday by the Institute for Higher Education Policy. The report reviews the research about rankings, and notes that while many educators may look down on rankings, they have the potential to have significant impact on public policy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009 - 3:00am

The economic collapse of the last year has left many wondering why more economists didn't warn of the looming disaster. An article in The Huffington Post suggests that the problem is the increasingly close relationship between academic economists and the Federal Reserve, which is alleged to have made the professors reluctant to question what the Fed was saying. The article notes the many research contracts the Fed awards to professors and the dominance of the Fed on certain editorial boards. "One critical way the Fed exerts control on academic economists is through its relationships with the field's gatekeepers. For instance, at the Journal of Monetary Economics, a must-publish venue for rising economists, more than half of the editorial board members are currently on the Fed payroll -- and the rest have been in the past," the article says. The editor of the journal is quoted calling the idea of control "a silly one" and saying that it had published work critical of the Fed.

Thursday, September 10, 2009 - 3:00am

Seventy-three percent of the 204 colleges participating in a study by the American College Health Association of the spread of H1N1 are reporting new cases in the last week. Rates of H1N1 on campus were the highest in the Southeast and Midwest. Details on the tracking research may be found here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009 - 3:00am

Howard University announced Wednesday several responses to student protests last week, but student leaders said that the university wasn't going far enough to deal with their concerns about inadequate services, The Washington Post reported. The university agreed to expand the hours that the financial aid office is open and to start a recycling program. But -- citing the expenses involved -- Howard officials said that they would not provide wireless Internet access or 24-hour access to a library.

Thursday, September 10, 2009 - 3:00am

California is suing Gerald Buckberg, a medical professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, charging that he and other officers of a charity he created used it to support their own research and business activities, the Los Angeles Times reported. The state is seeking both to recover funds from the charity and to disband it. The suit charges violations of a state law barring the use of charity funds to benefit founders or directors of the charity. As an example of a violation, the suit says that the charity gave Buckberg money to create an education DVD, the rights to which are owned by the professor's company. The charity also donated funds to UCLA for an endowed chair for whcih Buckberg (unsuccessfully) applied. Buckberg did not respond to calls seeking comment.

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