Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 3:00am

Learning management system provider Instructure is inching closer to an initial public stock offering, and on Wednesday the company announced it had raised another $40 million in investor funding. The company, which develops the Canvas LMS, will use the funding to expand its presence in the corporate learning management system with Bridge. To date, Instructure has raised about $90 million in investor funding.

Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 4:26am

The Center for American Progress is today releasing a new paper on how to provide, as the paper's title says, "College for All." The paper says that a variety of changes in policies should enable all high school graduates to receive support up to the level of tuition at a public college or university in the state. Students who attend private colleges would receive the equivalent amount toward their expenses. Students at community colleges would receive support sufficient to cover the full costs of attendance.

Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 3:00am

A mapping project by the City University of New York takes a stab at figuring out how diverse its students are compared to the neighborhoods that surround the system’s two dozen campuses.

A researcher at the Futures Initiative, a new CUNY project meant to look at teaching and learning across the system, found the diversity of the student population tends to match that of neighboring communities. About 80 percent of CUNY students come from New York City. The analysis compared campus demographics to the demographics of neighborhoods within a mile of the campus.

Cathy Davidson, the director of the Futures Initiative, said the findings give her a sense of the “texture of who lives in a city” that other demographic research might not. She also suggested in an interview that the data refute “click bait” articles that suggest CUNY is turning away from enrolling a diverse student population.

The research does, however, show that several of the colleges that have received that criticism -- notably in a controversial and heavily corrected piece in The Atlantic ­-- are whiter than their surrounding neighborhoods.

CUNY’s map of itself does not measure changes over time or establish whether the students actually came from the neighborhoods surrounding their campuses.

Some researchers of diversity, including Roger Worthington, a University of Maryland professor who edits the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, note that other, more complex research looks into diversity by exploring not just demographic percentages but also how included students feel. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 3:00am

The Big 12 Conference announced a new policy for diagnosing and managing concussions Wednesday, requiring member institutions to follow guidelines released in July by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and giving full autonomy to medical staff in deciding when an athlete can return to play.

“Our membership has developed a comprehensive diagnosis and management policy that asserts the unchallengeable authority of medical practitioners in overseeing the welfare of our student-athletes in this very important area,” Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12, said. “This policy goes beyond what was approved during the recent N.C.A.A. Autonomy Governance, and puts all associated protocols where they belong: in the hands of trained medical staff.”

The policy approved during the Power Five conferences' autonomy rule-making session last month was much contested, as it did not give medical staff the final say in concussion protocols and whether a player could return to the field.

Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 3:00am

Coaches for 14 teams at West Virginia University impermissibly texted and telephoned prospective athletes in violation of National Collegiate Athletic Association rules, the association announced Wednesday. The N.C.A.A.'s Division I Committee on Infractions and the university -- working collaboratively through the association's summary disposition process -- agreed on the findings and the resulting penalties, which include restrictions on recruiting in all the sports. Most of the violations occurred in four sports: women’s gymnastics, football, women’s basketball and women’s soccer.

Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Elizabeth Behrman, a professor of physics and math at Wichita State University, discusses her work to create an artificial neural network. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015 - 3:00am

A legislative committee in Oklahoma has voted to ban the use of state funds for teaching Advanced Placement U.S. history, The Tulsa World reported. Lawmakers complained that the curriculum focuses too much on what "is bad about America." Further, some lawmakers are questioning the entire AP program, saying that it is effectively a national curriculum. These lawmakers note that the state is committed to fighting efforts at creating a national curriculum, and so some are questioning the legality of AP in its entirety.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 - 3:00am

About 800 applicants to a master's program in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University on Monday received e-mails accepting them to the program. Then, seven hours later, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, they received a notice that the acceptances were a mistake. They were asked to confirm the revocation of the offers. “This error was the result of serious mistakes in our process for generating acceptance letters,” said a statement from the university. “Once the error was discovered, the university moved quickly to notify affected applicants.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 - 3:00am

Paul Quinn College, a historically black institution in Texas, plans to become a work college, meaning that all students will work throughout their time at the college in return for much lower tuition rates, The Texas Tribune reported. The college also plans to end the use of paid textbooks and to rely on open-source materials.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015 - 4:22am

Boston College is facing federal and state investigations of whether it has done enough to make its campus accessible to people with disabilities, The Boston Globe reported. Campus officials say that they are regularly making improvements but that the hilly campus creates challenges. But students and faculty members with disabilities point to numerous places on campus where those in wheelchairs or who have difficulty with stairs feel they have few good options to get from one place to another. A Facebook page features photographs (such as the one at right) of such spots.


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