Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 3:00am

The Open Society Foundations on Wednesday announced a grant program that will provide $20 million to colleges and universities that integrate debate into the curriculum, across disciplines. "Today’s undergraduates are the first to come of age in a post 9/11 world. Students around the world have few if any recollections of a time before the 'war on terror,' " said a statement from Noel Selegzi, director of the Youth Initiative at the Open Society Foundations. "Debate helps us recognize that public policy is best developed when the force of an argument, and not the argument of force, is most potent."

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 3:00am

A day after his board approved a plan for yet another round of potential budget cuts, the chancellor of the University System of Georgia told members of the Board of Regents that the 35-campus system needs to study whether merging some campuses might be a more effective way to reduce spending. “I believe it is time for the system to study if campus consolidations are justified and will enhance our ability to serve the people of Georgia at less cost,” Chancellor Hank Huckaby told the regents. Previous such discussions have run into a buzzsaw in Georgia, often because they have involved the possible closure of historically black colleges, inflaming issues of race. Huckaby said that in addition to the study of possible consolidations, the system would examine more closely how it utilizes facilities space on its campuses.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 3:00am

The Association of American Universities on Wednesday announced a five-year effort to improve the quality and effectiveness of undergraduate teaching in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, focused on the 61 U.S. and Canadian research universities that are its members but in tandem with similar initiatives in other sectors of higher education. The AAU plan, more details of which can be found here and here, was announced by the group's new president, Hunter S. Rawlings. It seeks to spread the use of existing, successful methods of teaching undergraduates (not just STEM majors) in math and the sciences, through demonstration projects and other means. “A number of our universities are already leading the way in developing and implementing these new ways of teaching," Rawlings said in a news release. "But there is a long way to go, and there is an urgent need to accelerate the process of reform.”

The AAU effort won early praise from several Obama administration officials in a post on the White House's blog.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 3:00am

A national survey of college students at four-year colleges and universities has found that many college women are in, or witness to, abusive dating relationships. The findings include the following:

  • 43 percent of dating college women report that they have experienced abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, technological, verbal or controlling abuse.
  • 29 percent of college women say they have been in an abusive dating relationship.
  • More than half of college students who report experiencing dating violence said it occurred in college.
  • 58 percent of college students say they wouldn't know how to help someone who is a victim of dating abuse.
  • 38 percent of college students say they wouldn't know how to get help for themselves if they were victims of dating violence.

The survey was released by Love Is Respect, a group that promotes education and policies to promote healthy and non-abusive relationships.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 3:00am

Most state directors of community colleges are predicting cuts in state support this year, according to a new survey released today by the University of Alabama Education Policy Center. Other findings:

  • Tuition is expected to increase in most states, with a median projected increase of 5.6 percent -- more than double the inflation rate.
  • A majority of states expect flat funding for state financial aid programs.
  • In 21 states, high unemployment rates have depleted state job training funds for displaced workers.
Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Brian Foy of Colorado State University explains his work with a drug that could revolutionize mosquito control in malaria-ravaged areas. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 3:00am

The programs that train special education teachers for K-12 systems will lose up to half of their faculty members to retirements in the next five years, according to the Special Education Faculty Needs Assessment, a report being issued today by researchers at Claremont Graduate, Vanderbilt and Western Carolina Universities. These retirements pose a significant danger because special education programs already have a shortage of faculty members. The report outlines ways that programs can produce more Ph.D.'s, who in turn can meet the demand for trained teachers for schools.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 3:00am

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues on Tuesday issued its full report on experiments conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service in which people in Guatemala were exposed in the 1940s to sexually transmitted diseases, and the conclusions are clear from the report's name: "Ethically Impossible." President Obama charged the panel with studying the research after it became public last year. Amy Gutmann, chair of the commission and president of the University of Pennsylvania, said: “In the commission’s view, the Guatemala experiments involved unconscionable basic violations of ethics, even as judged against the researchers’ own recognition of the requirements of the medical ethics of the day. The individuals who approved, conducted, facilitated and funded these experiments are morally culpable to various degrees for these wrongs."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 3:00am

A new federal study shows great variation by race in the degree to which parents of would-be college students are saving for their children's postsecondary costs. The study, which provides data from a longitudinal study of American ninth graders, shows that among those students whose parents expected them to enter postsecondary education and who planned to help pay for their education, 41 percent of the parents of Asian-American ninth graders and 23 percent of the parents of white ninth graders reported saving more than $25,000 for their child's postsecondary education, compared to 12 percent of the parents of black ninth graders and 8 percent of the parents of Latino ninth graders.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 3:00am

Adrian College in Michigan must make broad improvements to its women’s athletics programs – including the addition of at least one sports team and a locker room in its multipurpose stadium – under a settlement between the college and the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. The Resolution Agreement, which was first reported in the Title IX Blog, would bring the college into compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which Adrian was accused of violating in two separate complaints filed with OCR in 2007.

It’s not unusual for institutions found in violation of the federal legislation prohibiting sexual discrimination to have to make changes in multiple areas, nor are Adrian’s inequities unique.But, as Title IX blogger and Western New England University associate law professor Erin Buzuvis pointed out in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed, it is “somewhat unusual” that Adrian must remedy inequities in nearly every program area covered under Title IX. By June 1, 2013, the college must survey and evaluate its female students’ athletic interests and abilities, and address several shortages and inequities in women’s equipment and supplies; scheduling of games and practice times; locker rooms, practice times and competitive schedules; coaching; medical and training facilities; publicity and recruitment.

Among the specific requirements, the college must: boost the number of events in which women’s teams compete to equal that of men’s teams; provide each team with complete practice and game uniforms, including warm-ups and rain gear at levels equivalent to men’s teams; provide recruitment funds to teams in proportion to that gender’s participation rate, or at higher levels for women’s teams, because females are underrepresented in Adrian’s athletics programs; and assign the same number of qualified medical and training personnel to teams of each sex based on the needs of the sport.

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