Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 3:00am

Columbia University on Wednesday announced this year's winners of the Bancroft Prize, considered one of the most significant honors for historians. The winners are:

Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 3:00am

Madonna Constantine, the former faculty member at Teachers College Columbia University, has lost one of her three lawsuits against the institution, the Associated Press reported. Constantine was first in the news when she reported finding a noose outside of her door -- a noose that authorities could never trace to anyone. Then the news emerged that the noose incident took place while she was being investigated for plagiarism charges, which later resulted in her dismissal. She responded to the dismissal with three lawsuits, one of which she lost when a judge ruled that Teachers College officials acted within their authority in firing her.

Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 3:00am

Congressional Democrats and the White House reached agreement Wednesday on the higher education portion of revamped budget reconciliation legislation, the text of which is available here. The measure would provide $36 billion in new spending on Pell Grants (allowing the maximum grant to reach $5,975 by 2017 and linking increases in the grant to the inflation rate, but only from 2013 to 2017), $2.55 billion for historically black and other minority-serving institutions, and $750 million for college access completion grants. And in a turnaround from a few days ago, when it became clear that the legislation would not finance the community-college focused American Graduation Initiative, the measure would provide $2 billion for a competitive grant program for two-year community college and career training programs, aimed at supporting careers of the future. The legislation would also funnel $9 billion to help pay for the health care provisions in the overall budget legislation, and another $10 billion to reduce the deficit. A fuller report on the legislation will appear on Inside Higher Ed Friday.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 3:00am

One lawsuit challenging a move to fire trustees of Erskine College has been replaced with another -- filed by three trustees and the alumni association -- again seeking to block changes at the college, The Greenville News reported. Officials of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, which is trying to reconstitute the board, declined to comment. The church's move to assert more control over the college has dismayed many faculty members, students and alumni, and is being questioned by the college's accreditor.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Interior Department issued final rules this week on an issue of concern to Native Americans, anthropologists and many campus museums: the repatriation of the remains of Native Americans that have been held by museums. Earlier rules covered situations where remains could be traced to a specific tribe, and gave tribes considerable rights to demand repatriation. The new rules require museums to reach out to those tribes whose lands are or were near the sites where certain remains were found, in cases where those remains are deemed to be from Native Americans, but where no conclusive link could be established to a given tribe. Some universities are expecting that they will now need to review considerable holdings of Native American remains, and quite likely to turn over many of these remains. A spokesman for the American Anthropological Association said that it appeared the rules were "somewhat improved" over earlier drafts, but that the organization was continuing to study the new rules.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 3:00am

College students love Wikipedia, and a study published in the journal First Monday offers details on how they use the Web encyclopedia. Among the findings of a survey at six different colleges:

  • A majority frequently used it for background information, but less often than they used course readings and Google.
  • Architecture, engineering, and science majors were more likely to use Wikipedia for course research than were those in other majors.
  • Wikipedia is generally used in combination with other information, not alone.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 3:00am

New Jersey's governor on Tuesday proposed an austere budget for higher education (and most everything else), recommending a cut of about 15 percent in operating funds and a reduction of nearly 5 percent in financial aid for students. But the most stunning aspect of the governor's 2011 budget plan for public college officials was its proposal (see page 33) to strip Thomas Edison State College of $5.6 million in state funds and merge the online education institution into Rutgers University. The governor's budget plan bills the merger as a logical way to bring Rutgers's brand of classroom-based learning to Trenton, which is home to Thomas Edison, while "leveraging the two institutions' distance learning programming." Under the merger, Rutgers would also take over the State Museum and Library that Thomas Edison now oversees, for a total savings of $8.4 million. Public college officials, though, note that Trenton already has a classroom-based public institution, the College of New Jersey, and that enormous, research-oriented Rutgers would make an unlikely and discordant overseer of Thomas Edison's unusual brand of personalized education for adult students and overseas military personnel. Thomas Edison officials reportedly did not learn about the proposed merger until early Tuesday, and could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Chase announced Tuesday that it would no longer participate in the Federal Family Education Loan Program, which would be eliminated under the student loan restructuring plan now before Congress, Student Lending Analytics reported. In an e-mail message to college financial aid officials, the guaranteed loan program's fifth-largest lender in fiscal 2009 said that it would stop accepting applications from borrowers in mid-April, though it would continue to offer private student loans.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Franklin Pierce Law Center on Tuesday announced plans to affiliate with the University of New Hampshire and to eventually merge into the larger institution. Pierce Law, as it is known, is a freestanding private law school (the only one in New Hampshire) and is not part of Franklin Pierce University. The announcement comes as several other freestanding private law schools have announced similar moves or consideration of such moves.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 3:00am

In a new policy brief, the American Association of Community Colleges calls on the federal government to encourage the establishment of state “postsecondary longitudinal data systems” that “capture the workforce outcomes of educational pursuits.” The brief argues that “the data that are gathered to evaluate [workforce] outcomes must reflect the post-college occupational experiences” of community college student, who end up in occupations as varied as child-care providers, nurses, engineers and members of the armed services.

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