Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 3:00am

The Library of Congress has announced that it is archiving every public tweet on Twitter since its inception in 2006. While many don't think of Twitter for its historic significance, the collection will include such items as the first-ever tweet and Barack Obama’s tweet about winning the 2008 election.

Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 3:00am

A new report from the Southern Regional Education Board analyzes the practices at public colleges and universities that have higher graduation rates than comparable institutions, and suggests that there are specific policies that make their successes possible. The report notes that these colleges include institutions that educate many disadvantaged students, not just those who attended the best high schools. Among the policies recommended in the report:

  • An emphasis on making graduation part of "the campus culture."
  • Considering graduation rate success in the selection and evaluation of the president and top administrators.
  • Charging a team of officials to focus on graduation rates.
  • Requiring students to pick a major and developing an "individual graduation plan" by the end of freshman year.
  • Developing and maintaining systems for monitoring student progress.
Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 3:00am

Future middle school mathematics teachers in the United States are less likely than their counterparts in several other countries with advanced education systems to have taken advanced courses like linear algebra and calculus, according to an international comparison that will be released today, The New York Times reported. The study looks at future mathematics teachers in elementary and middle schools, and raises questions about the impact of the middle school teachers' levels of preparation on long-term efforts to attract more talent to math and science fields.

Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 3:00am

South Carolina legislators voted narrowly Wednesday to keep the only black member of the board of the University of South Carolina, The State reported. Many political observers expected the lawmakers to vote for another candidate, leaving the board all white, and some black legislators set off a debate by threatening -- if a white candidate won -- to discourage black athletes from enrolling at the university.

Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 3:00am

Eamonn Daniel Higgins pleaded guilty Wednesday to visa fraud in a case in which he was accused of writing papers and taking exams for foreign students, the Los Angeles Times reported. Authorities said that dozens of students from the Middle East paid Higgins for his inappropriate help from 2002 to 2009, and that he earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in his illegal business.

Thursday, April 15, 2010 - 3:00am

A House of Representatives subcommittee on Wednesday approved legislation that would extend the National Science Foundation's spending authority for five years, approving a slew of new programs as well as affirming lawmakers' intention to continue on a path of doubling the agency's budget. The measure passed by the House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Science Education is part of a package of bills that together would renew 2007's America COMPETES Act. The legislation approved Wednesday would, among other things, direct NSF to spend at least five percent of its research budget on high-risk, high-reward research proposals, give grants to colleges to support fundamental research leading to "transformative advances" in manufacturing, and provide grants to encourage research-based reforms in science education.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 - 3:00am

  • Justine Cassell, director of the Center for Technology & Social Behavior at Northwestern University, in Illinois, has been named director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pennsylvania.
  • Lydia Conca, associate professor of education at Saint Joseph College, in Connecticut, has been promoted to professor of education there.
  • Kathie L. Olsen, senior advisor in the office of information and resource management at the National Science Foundation, has been appointed as vice president for international programs at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
  • Adrian Sannier, vice president and university technology officer at Arizona State University, has been chosen as vice president of product for Pearson eCollege, part of Pearson PLC.
  • Mark Scheid, president of Tan Tao University Project, in Vietnam, has been named president of the Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University, in Indiana.
  • The appointments above are drawn from The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of upcoming events in higher education. To submit job changes or calendar items, please click here.

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010 - 3:00am

    Middlebury College, long known for its excellence in foreign languages, is forming a partnership with K12, an education company, to offer language instruction online at the pre-college level, The New York Times reported. Middlebury hopes that the new venture will help more high school students learn languages, and will provide the college with more revenue. The Times article did not quote Middlebury faculty members. But Philip G. Altbach, the Monan professor of higher education at Boston College, told the Times: “I have problems with the whole thing, particularly for a place like Middlebury, which has a reputation as one of the best liberal-arts colleges in the country, and for doing a very good job with languages. They should protect that brand. They are not known for online programs, and to jump in to the deep end of the swimming pool, with a for-profit, is in my view dangerous.”

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010 - 3:00am

    Controversy is growing over an invitation by the foundation of California State University at Stanislaus to Sarah Palin. Jerry Brown, the attorney general of California, is starting an investigation into the foundation and whether it is appropriate for it to use funds to bring the former vice presidential candidate to campus, the Los Angeles Times reported. Meanwhile, students say they have found in a trash bin shredded documents -- which the university failed to turn over to legislative committees -- about the visit. Brown said his inquiry would include the issue of the documents' authenticity and -- if they are real -- how they ended up in the trash.

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010 - 3:00am

    Michigan State University announced Tuesday that it is ending the practice of offering retiree health benefits to new employees, starting July 1, The Lansing State Journal reported. Current employees will continue to be covered. The announcement said that that Michigan State's current liability from those benefits is about $1 billion and "is expected to double every 15 years through 2040 if unabated."

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