Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 20, 2012

The California State University System will close enrollment on most of its campuses for the spring 2013 semester, eliminating spots for about 16,000 would-be students, because of budget cuts imposed by the state, system officials said Monday. The statements by Robert Turnage, the system's assistant vice chancellor for budget, came in a call with reporters in advance of a trustee meeting later this week. Turnage told reporters that the system would limit enrollment next spring to all but a few hundred students who quality for transfer to one of eight campuses under a recent state law. (The campuses are Channel Islands, Chico, East Bay, Fullerton, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Bernardino and Sonoma.)

The number of students whose enrollment is blocked could rise to 25,000 in the 2013-14 academic year, Turnage said, depending on the outcome of November ballot measures that seek to raise taxes to supplement the state budget. 

March 20, 2012

Felice Nudelman, executive director of education for The New York Times Company, was named Monday as the next chancellor of Antioch University. In her current position, Nudelman has worked to promote numerous education initiatives, including the offering of courses and the creation of educational materials and technology tools. At Antioch, she will lead a system of five geographically dispersed campuses and distance programs. Antioch College -- the undergraduate residential institution -- is now independent of the university system.

March 20, 2012

The Modern Language Association's Executive Council has issued a statement calling on doctoral programs in English to required "advanced competence" in at least one language beyond English, and to provide support for graduate students who want to study languages beyond any requirements. Most doctoral programs in English require reading proficiency in one non-English language, but the new statement suggests a higher bar may be in order.

"Those who pursue a Ph.D. in English are engaged in deep study of a language and its literary and cultural expressions," the statement says. "Most likely they will teach works in translation during their career. Knowledge of several languages and the process of language learning offer more than research tools enabling students to read primary and secondary materials in their original form. They promote consciousness of and sensitivity to both the multilingual contexts in which anglophone literatures are written and the work of translation in which contemporary writers and readers engage on a daily basis. Proficiency in more than one language promotes the cultural literacy essential to teaching in the global university of the future."

March 20, 2012

India is expanding its ties to Russian universities, and helping to create programs at those institutions to study India, The Hindu reported. India has just signed an agreement to create a Center of Indian Studies at Kazan Federal University, the first such India-backed institute in Russia outside of Moscow. Plans are currently under way for either chairs or research centers related to India at universities in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Krasnodar.

March 20, 2012

The number of Law School Admission Tests administered in the last year dropped by 16 percent over one year and 25 percent over two years, The New York Times reported. The drops come amid widespread reports that many law school graduates are having difficulty finding jobs for which law degrees are required, and lawsuits against some law schools for allegedly providing inaccurate job-placement data to prospective students.

"For a long time there has been this culturally embedded perception that if you go to law school, it will be worth the money," Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency, an organization pushing for more openness about job placement, told the Times. "The idea that law school is an easy ticket to financial security is finally breaking down."

March 20, 2012

The University of Missouri system’s departing president had qualms about the state’s flagship campus leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference, the Columbia Tribune reports. But after that leader stepped down to care for his ailing wife and it became clear Missouri wanted to join the SEC, the Tribune found evidence that the Big 12 had prepared a lawsuit it could “wave around” in a meeting with Missouri administrators.

The lawsuit was never filed and, after months of speculation, Missouri announced its move in November. Missouri became the fourth university to leave the Big 12 in 18 months, following the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and Texas A&M University at College Station. Missouri publicly campaigned for admission into the Big Ten in 2011 -- the state's governor even offered an unflattering comparison of the academic qualities of the conferences -- but pledged its support to the Big 12 after that bid failed. The Tigers will begin SEC competition in the fall as Texas Christian University and West Virginia University join the Big 12.

March 20, 2012

The faculty union of Lansing Community College presented the board Monday night with a vote of no confidence against President Brent Knight, and the board responded by passing a resolution expressing confidence in Knight, The Lansing State Journal reported. Board members said that the faculty vote was a tactic in contract negotiations. Faculty members have been working without a contract since the summer of 2010. But faculty members said that was but one of their grievances, and that they were frustrated by the administration's lack of consultation with them on academic matters, a new enrollment management system they did not like, and spending decisions they consider questionable.

 

March 19, 2012

Jewish students, faculty members and organizations are angry at the State University of New York for changing its academic calendar so that Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur will no longer be holidays and spring break will no longer be scheduled to overlap with Passover and Easter, The Jewish Week reported. Charles Robbins, vice provost for undergraduate education, told the newspaper that the idea was to treat all religious groups the same (not offering any holidays as university holidays), while encouraging faculty members and others to be flexible with those whose observances require them to miss some classes. "We are trying to be respectful of all religions," Robbins said. "We want to be equally welcoming to everybody."

Rabbi Joseph Topek of the Stony Brook Hillel has posted on his blog a critique of the new calendar, the adoption of which he wrote is in contrast to a long history of support at Stony Brook for students of many faiths. "We are very concerned that this policy will result in large numbers of faculty and staff being unable to teach classes on major holidays and large numbers of students will miss important course work," he wrote. "New York State Education Law (Section 224-a) requires the institution to provide all students with an equivalent make up opportunity for any required work missed due to religious observance. We all know, however, that the student-teacher relationship is not an equal one, and many students are intimidated or frightened by the prospect of revealing personal information to a teacher in order to ask for make up work."

March 19, 2012

Many academics in Israel are angry over the selection of a business executive, Amos Shapira, as president of the University of Haifa, Haaretz reported. Supporters of the pick have argued that the university needs a leader who will promote change. But many in Israel believe that presidencies should go to academics. Danny Gutwein, a professor of Jewish history at Haifa, called Shapira's selection a step in "the Finance Ministry's hostile takeover of the universities." He rejected the idea that the business perspective is needed. "The premise that a commercial-business administration will rescue the universities is an addictive bit of propaganda," he said. "Essentially, as a consequence of the budget cuts the Finance Ministry forced on the universities, they have been administered as a 'business' for about two decades. And yet, experience shows that the more the universities adopt business logic, the greater the crisis in which they find themselves."

March 19, 2012

Members of the University of Southern Mississippi pep band chanted “Where’s your green card?” Thursday at an opposing basketball player from Puerto Rico, The Kansas City Star reported. But it was Southern Mississippi, not Kansas State University freshman Angel Rodriguez, that was sent home after the game. The Golden Eagles lost the second-round National College Athletic Association tournament game, 70-64.

Southern Mississippi President Martha Saunders issued a statement after the game apologizing to Rodriguez and saying that “The words of these individuals do not represent the sentiments of our pep band, athletic department or university.” Rodriguez, a 19-year-old guard from San Juan, is an American citizen by virtue of his birth in the U.S. territory.

As Rodriguez prepared to shoot free throws, members of the Southern Miss band were caught on tape chanting the racially charged phrase. Southern Mississippi’s interim athletics director apologized to his Kansas State counterpart after the game, the Hattiesburg American reported, and hoped to have the pep band director meet with Rodriguez. The pep band director stopped the chant and apologized to a TV reporter who filmed it, the American reported.

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