Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

Data on college sports and athletes will be much more accessible than it has been, under an arrangement announced by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan. The new Web site will eventually feature longitudinal datasets of team-level graduation rates and Academic Progress Rates, an NCAA-developed score judging teams' performances in the classroom. In addition, the site will present results from two ongoing NCAA projects, “the Study of College Outcomes and Recent Experiences” (SCORE) and “the Growth, Opportunities, Aspirations and Learning of Students” (GOALS). Some of these figures are already available from the NCAA but are not readily accessible in an open-source, searchable format. NCAA officials say that “the data-sharing initiative will enhance research directly benefiting student-athletes, colleges and intercollegiate sports, and will broaden the dialogue between NCAA research staff and outside scholars.”

Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee is investigating an incident Thursday in which a student's disagreement with a faculty member led authorities to be called and to the student's arrest. Details about the situation are limited, but WISN 12, a local news station, broadcast a video of the arrest (with profanities edited out) filmed by a student who is a WISN employee. That employee said that the dispute started with a discussion of an exam.

Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

The British government, which has been warning universities of looming cuts for months, unveiled details on Thursday, with most universities facing cuts of up to 14 percent, The Guardian reported. The cuts are the largest in more than a decade, and educators predicted that they would lead to layoffs and to larger class sizes.

Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

The American Historical Association said Thursday that James Grossman, vice president for research and education at the Newberry Library and a researcher at the University of Chicago, would replace its long-time executive director, Arnita Jones. Grossman is a scholar of urban and ethnic history and has published widely (in multiple formats) on the city in which he lives and works. Jones, who will retire in August, has spent 11 years as head of the AHA, following a similar period leading the Organization of American Historians.

Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 3:00am

Anyone for a Constitutional convention? If the debate over health care wasn't evidence enough of how broken Congress is, try this: the San Francisco Chronicle's account of a disagreement between two members of the House of Representatives over resolutions honoring successful college sports teams. According to the newspaper, Rep. Peter Campbell, a California Republican, delayed a vote this week on a resolution recognizing the University of Maryland's men's basketball team for qualifying for the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I tournament. His formal reason for opposing the resolution was that teams shouldn't be recognized for merely earning a spot in a tournament, but his real motivation, the Chronicle reported, was payback for Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Maryland Democrat who sponsored the resolution. Last fall, Hoyer had (as reported by the Orange County Register) helped scuttle a vote on a Campbell-sponsored resolution recognizing the University of California at Irvine for winning the NCAA's men's volleyball title. Hoyer had acted at the behest of Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat who was annoyed at Campbell for opposing a recycling bill he was pushing. Campbell had opposed that legislation, the newspapers reported, because of a disagreement with Miller over another California water issue. Your tax dollars at work.

Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 3:00am

California community college students who are eligible for financial aid but don't apply for it may be losing up to a half billion dollars, according to a new analysis by the Institute for College Access and Success. While many community college students in California enroll part time, and such students nationally are less likely than others to seek federal aid, the study said that even among full-time students, those at California community colleges who are likely to be eligible are less likely than those in other states to apply.

Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 3:00am

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology told applicants whether they got in this year last Sunday, at 1:59 p.m. Why? As The Boston Globe reported, the date was 3/14 -- or Pi Day, an ideal time to learn about a future at the institute. Next year, however, with Pi Day falling on Monday, officials won't do the same thing, as they don't want students distracted during the school day.

Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 3:00am

The Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish organizations have written to Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, urging him to assure that the Office for Civil Rights protects Jewish students from harassment or intimidation based on their ethnicity or religion. OCR under the Bush administration gave conflicting signs about whether it considered that it had authority to explore such issues. A statement from the ADL said: "ADL has significant concerns about harassment and intimidation of Jewish students on college campuses – including in the context of heated debate over Israel. We believe the Department of Education should use its civil rights enforcement power to investigate and remedy serious incidents in which Jewish students are threatened, harassed, or intimidated to the point where their college experience is impaired."

Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 3:00am

In a news conference on the eve of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he would like to see teams whose graduation rates are below 40 percent banned from postseason play. Duncan issued an identical challenge in a high-profile speech at the NCAA's annual convention in January. By Duncan’s proposed standard, 12 teams with poor four-year average graduation rates would miss this year’s men’s basketball tournament: Baylor University (36 percent), Clemson University (37 percent), Georgia Institute of Technology (38 percent), New Mexico State University (36 percent), University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (29 percent), University of California at Berkeley (20 percent), University of Kentucky (31 percent), University of Louisville (38 percent), University of Maryland at College Park (8 percent), University of Missouri at Columbia (36 percent), University of Tennessee at Knoxville (30 percent) and University of Washington (29 percent). These graduation rates do not punish teams for players who leave college early as long as they leave in good academic standing. Though the NCAA began banning teams from postseason play for poor academic performance for the first time just last year -- based on its system of Academic Progress Rates -- Duncan said these reforms do not go far enough. The NCAA, however, defended its method of holding teams accountable for their academic performance. “The NCAA shares Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s concern over some institutions that have low graduation rates among their basketball teams in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament,” Erik Christianson, NCAA spokesman, explained in a statement. "However, imposing a ban on teams for the academic performance of student-athletes who entered as freshman 8-11 years ago is probably not the best course of action. Basing post-season bans on graduation rates penalizes the wrong students."

Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 3:00am

Faculty members in Tennessee are objecting to proposed legislation that would bar them from collecting royalties on their own books, if they assign them for their courses, The Tennessean reported. The professors say that they are entitled to the compensation they earn on book sales, given the long hours involved in producing the works. But the state legislator who is pushing the bill says that such payments are "kickbacks."

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