Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 3, 2012

The "block plan," in which students take one course at a time for a few weeks, rather than four or five courses over a semester, is attracting interest in Canada, The Globe and Mail reported. Quest University has adopted the system and three institutions -- Acadia University,  Algoma University and the University of Northern British Columbia -- have started to explore the use of block schedules. Among the small number of institutions in the United States that use the system are Colorado, Cornell (Iowa) and Tusculum Colleges.

January 3, 2012

While some mark the New Year by noting words that are annoying, Wayne State University issues a list of words that are "regrettably neglected." This year's list: antediluvian, erstwhile, execrable, frisson, parlous, penultimate, Sisyphean, supercilious, transmogrify and truckle. Details on the words may be found here.

January 3, 2012

The University of Miami has agreed to pay $83,000 to a bankruptcy trustee to cover the costs of gifts made by Nevin Shapiro, a one-time booster of athletic programs who is now in jail over a Ponzi scheme that among other things financed his gifts to various Miami athletes, The Miami Herald reported. The deal states that the trustee will not seek to recover additional funds from the athletes and former athletes, meaning that they will not be forced to publicly discuss the gifts. Those gifts are believed to have included Cadillac Escalades, jewelry, party invites, champagne, lap dances and the services of prostitutes.

January 3, 2012

Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky has stopped a controversial merger between the University of Louisville's teaching hospital and a Roman Catholic health system. The idea for the merger provoked an uproar in the state last year. Beshear cited loss of public control over the hospital as a main reason for rejecting the merger, which he said had more risks than benefits, The Courier-Journal reported. The merger was controversial because the hospitals would all have had to follow Catholic health directives, including restrictions on abortion and sterilization, and some groups feared they would interfere with medical education at the public institution.

January 3, 2012

Israel's Academy of Sciences and Humanities organized a meeting last week at which hundreds of Israeli academics living abroad, as well as Jewish academics in other countries considering a move to Israel, met with representatives of Israeli universities, Ynet News reported. The event was part of an expanded effort in Israel to reverse its brain drain problem. More than 2,000 Israeli academics abroad (a majority of them in the United States) have told academy officials that they are interested in returning to Israel. Those who return will be eligible for tax breaks and other benefits.

January 3, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Robert Pallitto of Seton Hall University explains that the U.S. government’s approach to torture has changed little in the last century. (And while you're there, here was Monday's Academic Minute, in which the College of Saint Rose's Silvia Mejia discusses how advances in digital technology are allowing emigrants to maintain ties to home and family like never before.) Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

January 3, 2012

Mitt Romney, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, vowed Saturday that, as president, he would veto the federal DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for students brought by their parents to the United States without legal authorization who have completed high school and college, Reuters reported. Romney also vowed to oppose state versions of the law that grant such students in-state tuition rates. Governor Rick Perry's defense of such a law in Texas has been controversial with many Republican activists. In his speech Saturday, Romney said: "The question is if I were elected and Congress were to pass the Dream Act, would I veto it and the answer is yes.... For those that come here illegally, the idea of giving them in-state tuition credits or other special benefits, I find to be contrary to the idea of a nation of laws. If I'm the president of the United States I want to end illegal immigration so that we can protect legal immigration. I like legal immigration."

 

January 3, 2012

An investigation in The New York Times examines the increasingly complicated and increasingly lucrative contracts of head coaches of big-time college football programs. The bulk of compensation typically comes outside of the base salary and total compensation deals are in the multiple millions. The article focuses on the two coaches who will face off next week for the national championship: Nick Saban of the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and Les Miles of Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. The coaches can earn $600,000 and $500,000, respectively based on the athletic performance of their teams. They can earn $100,000 and $200,000, respectively, based on meeting certain academic goals for their players.

December 28, 2011

Rick Santorum, who is trying to pull off an upset win in the Iowa caucuses for the Republican presidential nomination, is making higher education a target. In a speech in Mason City, Iowa, Santorum said that it is time to examine support for higher education, the Associated Press reported. "Let's look at colleges and universities," he said. "They've become indoctrination centers for the left. Should we be subsidizing that?" He also criticized Harvard University. Noting that its motto is "Veritas," he said that "they haven't seen truth at Harvard in 100 years."

 

December 23, 2011

Colorado Christian University on Thursday became the second institution to sue the Obama administration over the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that private employers cover birth control in their health plans or pay a fine. “The government’s Mandate unconstitutionally coerces Colorado Christian to violate its deeply-held religious beliefs under threat of heavy fines and penalties,” the lawsuit says.

It adds that the health care overhaul legislation “forces” the university to “fund government-dictated speech…. Because the government acted with full knowledge of those beliefs, and because it allows plans not to cover these services for a wide range of reasons other than [sic] religion, the Mandate can be interpreted as nothing other than a deliberate attack by the government on the religious beliefs of Colorado Christian and millions of other Americans.” (In some cases, the legislation allows exceptions based on the employer size or the age of the plan, the lawsuit says.)

Colorado Christian’s action follows a similar complaint filed last month by Belmont Abbey College. That lawsuit also alleged that the contraception requirement violates the university’s First Amendment rights. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed both suits on behalf of the universities.

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