Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, April 27, 2015 - 3:00am

Four colleges and two study abroad programs that had students in Nepal as the devastating earthquake hit are all reporting that their students are safe.

Here are press reports on three colleges with students in Nepal: Liberty University, Muhlenberg College and Nebraska Christian College. Nine students and faculty members from Nebraska Christian College had just arrived in Nepal hours before the earthquake, and they too are safe. And Pitzer College issued a statement saying its students in Nepal are safe.

Where There Be Dragons, a study-abroad and gap year program based in Boulder, Colo., and that boasts of rugged outdoor components to its programs, also had students in Nepal. On Twitter, the program said that its students were safe. The Denver Post reported that the program has 25 students and 6 instructors in Nepal.

SIT, formerly the School for International Training, also has students in Nepal and reported that they are all safe. The students are scattered as they are currently in the independent-study portion of their program. An update from SIT noted that while some parents and colleges that have students there have urged the students to return to Katmandu, roads remain dangerous, so the program is following the advice of the U.S. Embassy and encouraging students to stay where they are for now.

For students from Nepal at American colleges and universities, the earthquake has caused anxiety about loved ones and their home country. Here are local press reports on how Nepalese students are gathering and trying to offer support at Mississippi University for Women, the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Washington.

According to the Institute of International Education, Nepal is the 16th leading place of origin for international students coming to the United States. In 2013-14, there were 8,155 students from Nepal at American colleges and universities.

Monday, April 27, 2015 - 3:00am

A report being released today by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology examines the lost opportunities for science and for U.S. competitiveness vs. other nations due to inadequate federal support for basic research. "The Future Postponed: Why Declining Investment in Basic Research Threatens a U.S. Innovation Deficit" explores a range of scientific issues and illustrates how funding has become more difficult to find.

"Basic research is often misunderstood, because it often seems to have no immediate payoff. Yet it was just such federally funded research into the fundamental working of cells, intensified beginning with the 'War on Cancer' in 1971, that led over time to a growing arsenal of sophisticated new anticancer therapies -- 19 new drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the past two years. Do we want similar progress on Alzheimer’s, which already affects five million Americans, more than any single form of cancer? Then we should expand research in neurobiology, brain chemistry and the science of aging," the report says. "The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is a reminder of how vulnerable we are to a wider pandemic of emergent viral diseases, because of a lack of research on their biology; an even greater public health threat looms from the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria right here at home, which, because commercial incentives are lacking, only expanded university-based research into new types of antibiotics can address."

The report is available here.


Monday, April 27, 2015 - 4:16am

An article in The New York Times explores the lives of 2010 law school graduates, many of whom have struggled to find the kind of jobs they thought they would have after finishing law school. Citing work by Deborah Jones Merritt of Ohio State University, the article reports that 20 percent of law grads in 2010 have jobs for which a law degree is not required. Further, only 40 percent are working in law firms, compared to 60 percent a decade prior. Most of the law grads have “substantial” debt.

Monday, April 27, 2015 - 3:00am

Geoff Chatas, who had announced he was leaving the top financial position at Ohio State University, won't be leaving after all, Northeast Ohio Media Group reported. Chatas had announced that he had accepted a position with QIC, an investment company. After he changed his mind and decided to stay at Ohio State, Northeast Ohio Media Group posed questions about what would appear to some to be the potential for conflict of interest -- Chatas is the Ohio State official who negotiated a 50-year agreement with QIC over management of the university's parking facilities. University officials denied that there was any conflict of interest and said that Chatas hadn't been expected to manage the parking deal. He now won't be going to QIC and instead signed a three-year contract to stay at Ohio State, with a base annual salary of $683,153.

Monday, April 27, 2015 - 3:00am

A petition is circulating (and attracting social media attention) calling on Columbia University to end an alleged policy at dining operations (or according to some, at one dining operation) on workers speaking Spanish in front of students. Columbia dining released a statement indicating that it was aware of the petition and was "investigating the matter."



Monday, April 27, 2015 - 3:00am

Queen’s University Belfast is reconsidering its decision to cancel a conference about the murders at Charlie Hebdo, The Guardian reported. Patrick Johnston, the university’s vice chancellor, said in a statement that the university has commissioned a risk assessment for the conference that will inform any decision about it. “Queen’s is, and will remain, a place where difficult issues can be discussed,” Johnston said.

Conference organizers said last week that the event was canceled due to Johnston's concerns about security risks and the reputation of Queen’s, while the university said that the conference was canceled because organizers had not completed a risk assessment (a claim that some academics at Queen’s have contested). 

Monday, April 27, 2015 - 3:00am

About 1,000 people showed up Friday at Valdosta State University to rally in support of the American flag, The Valdosta Daily Times reported. The rally was scheduled after reports of protesters on the campus walking on an American flag and the move by a veteran to take away that flag to prevent more walking on it. The university, citing security concerns, called off classes on Friday. The rally took place without incident.


Monday, April 27, 2015 - 3:00am

Students at the University of Warwick, in Britain, are criticizing a new logo, saying it doesn't reflect the university and was a waste of money to create. A petition raises concerns that "University of" will be dropped, and states that students have reacted with "visible shock and displeasure" when shown the logo. Times Higher Education reported that the university is standing behind the logo and that officials said students were consulted while it was being developed.


Monday, April 27, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Scott Adler, a psychologist and vision specialist at York University, in Canada, explains his ocular research. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, April 24, 2015 - 3:00am

The White House announced Thursday that an American drone killed two hostages held in Pakistan by Al Qaeda, one of whom was a former State University of New York faculty member. The drone was fired without knowledge that the hostages were at that location.

The former faculty member was Warren Weinstein, who had been held hostage since 2011. He was in Pakistan working with human rights and assistance groups. Earlier in his career, he taught political science at SUNY Oswego. United University Professions, the SUNY faculty union, had campaigned for his release. This website features background information about his life and efforts that were made to release him.


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