Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, October 24, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Dustin Buehler of the University of Arkansas reveals a link between the designated hitter rule and the frequency with which batters are hit by pitches. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, October 24, 2011 - 3:00am

The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors is among the groups that had scheduled meetings in Arizona prior to the state adopting a law many view as unconstitutional and anti-immigrant. The association went ahead with its meeting, but has now issued a statement about immigration laws and their impact. The statement pledges support for all students at the colleges the counseling center directors serve, regardless of the students' immigration status. "Our organization declares our support for, and intention to promote compassion and inclusion for all who live within the borders of the United States, in our communities and on our campuses," says the statement. "Our work shows that students thrive and achieve their maximum potential in a climate where all can feel safe, valued and respected. As mental health professionals in higher education, we strive to build healthy and inclusive campus and community climates. Our compassion has no borders. We advocate for students who are misunderstood, marginalized, or unfairly devalued despite their efforts to be educated and productive members of our communities. We advocate for all students to take full advantage of the richly diverse learning environment on and off campus, to understand the demands and responsibilities of global citizenship, and to extend a compassionate hand to those yearning to contribute to our robust society."

Monday, October 24, 2011 - 3:00am

Guidance counselors and applicants to the University of California are reporting widespread confusion over the system's shift to no longer require SAT subject exams, The Los Angeles Times reported. The controversial decision to keep the main SAT (or ACT) as a requirement but to end the requirement that students take the SAT subject exams was promoted as a way to simplify the process. But many applicants feel that they still must take the exams. That's in part, they say, because the university has said that good scores can still help an applicant, while poor scores or no scores will not hurt an applicant. High school counselors say that this is a message that leaves many applicants feeling no choice but to take the tests, given how competitive University of California admissions are, and many assume that failing to get high scores will hurt their chances of admission.

Friday, October 21, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Kentucky's Board of Trustees took a major step Thursday toward taking control of the university's high-profile sports program, which now is formally overseen by the separately incorporated University of Kentucky Athletic Association, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. A special committee of the university's board approved a recommendation that the board of the athletic association -- which approves the sports department's budget -- be dissolved, so that the athletics program would ultimately report to the trustees. Kentucky is one of a relatively small number of big-time sports programs (mainly in the South) that are overseen by freestanding entities designed to ensure that no state money flows to athletics.

Friday, October 21, 2011 - 3:00am

Robert Ward, dean of the new law school at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, announced Thursday that he is resigning to deal with health issues, but his decision comes amid the news that he made personal charges on a university credit card, The Boston Globe reported. Ward said that he reimbursed the university for the credit card charges, and that the accounting issue had nothing to do with his decision to resign.


Friday, October 21, 2011 - 4:30am

Richard Rubasmen will quit as president of Sierra Nevada College to help the college save money, The North Tahoe Bonanza reported. Non-faculty employees are having their salaries cut 5-10 percent as well, and the provost will assume the president's job. "I was tasked by the board with planning for financial sustainability in order to (ensure) the long term health of the college," Rubsamen said in a statement. "It was clear to me where reductions had to occur. While the idea of leaving the college is very difficult, it is the right thing to do. I need to lead by example and practice what we teach."

Friday, October 21, 2011 - 3:00am

The swelling discontent over college sports -- with scrutiny for issues ranging from improper benefits to scholarship gaps and athletic eligibility -- may soon be examined in the halls of Congress, as well. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to the panel's Republican chairman asking that the committee hold hearings focusing not just on the aforementioned hot topics, but other “antitrust and due process issues.” Among them: conference realignment, limitations on scholarship durations (see related essay elsewhere on this site), National Collegiate Athletic Association bylaws regarding due process of athletes, institutional liability in the event of athletes getting injured, and the NCAA's control of athletes’ “likeness” – which critics say has allowed the association to profit unfairly from using students’ names or images in things like video games and promotions. “It has become increasingly clear to me that the combination of issues and challenges facing intercollegiate sports have reached a tipping point calling for Congressional attention,” Conyers wrote.

In the letter, Conyers acknowledged that his colleagues might hesitate to spend time on issues regarding college athletics, but argued that the “massive business” has widespread economic impact on athletes, broadcasters, fans and colleges nationwide. He also noted that to do so would not be unprecedented – the committee has previously conducted hearings on piracy of sports broadcasting rights and Bowl Championship Series antitrust issues. (Conyers invoked the latter in his appeal to examine the continuing shake-up among conferences. “The impact of major conference realignment on lower-profile sports teams, parents, and smaller and independent universities -- notably Historically Black Colleges and Universities -- are of particular concern,” he wrote. “HBCUs and other universities appear to have been relegated to difficult bargaining postures due to the recent realignments.”)

Friday, October 21, 2011 - 4:40am

The American Bar Association is pledging that it will force law schools to release more information about how their graduates fare at finding jobs. The pledge comes amid criticism from recent law graduates (some of whom are suing law schools) and some members of Congress that law schools deceive prospective students by counting as "employed" those who are working part-time or in temporary jobs or in jobs paid for by the law school. The ABA said that it will now require law schools to report information directly to the association, and that it will require detailed reports, including for each graduate: employment status, employment type, employment location, salary, whether a position is short-term or long-term, and whether a position is funded by the law school. The ABA also plans -- once it completes work on various definitions -- to require reporting on whether jobs in which graduates are employed are positions for which a law degree or bar passage is required. This reflects criticism that, if prospective students knew how many law graduates ended up in jobs for which a law degree was not necessary, some might not enroll (and take out considerable loans to do so).

Friday, October 21, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, York University's Aaron Dhir discusses the regulatory techniques used to encourage multinational corporations to respect human rights around the world. Dhir is an associate professor at York's Osgoode Hall Law School, in Toronto. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, October 21, 2011 - 4:50am

New York University is dropping out of the National Merit Scholarship Program, becoming the latest institution to say that it is wrong to award scholarships in which a standardized test score (in this case the PSAT) is the sole criterion for becoming a semifinalist, Bloomberg reported. Shawn Abbott, assistant vice president of admissions at NYU, said, “We simply do not feel that enrolling a larger number of National Merit finalists is a necessary way for us to attract the most academically qualified freshman class." The College Board, the sponsor of the PSAT, has always said that its tests should not be used in isolation for high-stakes decisions, and critics have for years said that using the PSAT alone violates much expert advice about how tests should be used, but the National Merit Scholarship Program has declined to change. The University of Texas at Austin dropped out of the program in 2009.


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