Quick Takes: Enrollment Data, Long Beach Senate Condemns Prof's Views, UDC Kills Senate, Affirmative Action Stigma Questioned, Study Abroad and 2-Year Colleges, $125M for Harvard, Postdocs Unionize, Nobel in Chemistry, LA Semesters, Beer vs. WiFi

October 8, 2008
  • During the 2006-7 academic year, colleges and universities in the United States reported a 12-month unduplicated headcount enrollment totaling 25 million individual students. Of these, 21.6 million were undergraduates, 3.1 million were graduate students, and 367,000 were first-professional students. Those figures come from a report released Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics. Because many students enroll part time, the total figure translates into only a full-time equivalent enrollment of 14.9 million graduate and undergraduate students. Of all colleges and universities in 2006-7, four-year institutions awarded 2.4 million
    degrees and two-year institutions reported awarding 563,875 degrees. Of the degrees awarded by four-year institutions, 42 percent were awarded to men and 58 percent to women. Of the degrees awarded by two-year institutions, 37 percent were awarded to men and 63 percent to women.
  • The Faculty Senate at California State University at Long Beach has formally disassociated itself from the views of Kevin MacDonald, a tenured psychology professor, while affirming his academic freedom and right to free speech, The Contra Costa Times reported. MacDonald's writings have been called offensive and anti-Semitic by many scholars and others -- and his work has been widely praised by white supremacist groups. MacDonald argues -- among other things -- that Jewish people band together to undercut white society in the United States. The vote by the Faculty Senate followed much debate over how to respond to MacDonald without violating the principles of academic freedom. MacDonald told the Times that "ethnic activists" voted against him.
  • The new president of the University of the District of Columbia, Allen Sessoms, is shutting down the University Senate, which represents professors, The Washington Post reported. Sessoms said that the body has not been responsive, but faculty leaders said that the administration didn't like the way the University Senate pointed out problems at the institution.
  • Some critics of affirmative action say that one of their goals is to end a stigma faced by minority students, who may feel that their qualifications are doubted. A new study by University of Iowa scholars questions whether minority students feel such a stigma. The study compared the attitudes of students at law schools with affirmative action, and those in states where consideration of race in admissions is barred. Generally, minority students at the two sets of institutions feel good about their qualifications and how others treat them, the study found. While the authors say that their findings raise doubts about the stigma issue, they also acknowledge very small sample sizes. The research will appear in the California Law Review.
  • Community colleges can do more to offer study abroad opportunities to students, according to a new report from the Institute of International Education. The report notes that while community colleges are experiencing a significant increase in study abroad participation -- up 60 percent since 2001 -- the base is quite low. While community college students make up almost half of undergraduates in the United States, they make up only about 3 percent of those going abroad. Program cost and lack of staff support are key obstacles, the report says.
  • Harvard University, which has been bolstering its engineering programs of late, on Tuesday announced a gift of $125 million for "biologically inspired engineering." The gift will support seven endowed chairs and a research institute.
  • Postdoctoral fellows at the University of Western Ontario have voted to unionize, The London Free-Press reported. The new union is only the second of its kind in Canada.
  • Three scholars were named Wednesday morning as winners of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP." This winners are Osamu Shimomura of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole and the Boston University Medical School; Martin Chalfie of Columbia University; and Roger Y. Tsien of the University of California at San Diego.
  • More colleges from the East and South are starting up programs in which students spend a semester in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported. The academic programs tend to focus on the entertainment industry, and students -- as in many study abroad programs -- are encouraged to live with the natives.
  • Today's college students value a wireless campus environment. That's not surprising, but the Wi-Fi Alliance, a wireless industry group, commissioned a poll of college students to see just how much wireless matters. Large majorities of students said wireless access was essential to their educations. The poll also found evidence that wireless may hinder their educations -- with more than half saying that they have checked Facebook or MySpace and sent or received e-mail during class. How important is it to have wireless access? Almost half (48 percent) of students said that they would give up beer before giving up wireless access.
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