Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, September 27, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst is announcing a plan under which some students will receive counseling on how to finish degrees in three years, The Boston Globe reported. This year, the program will be offered for freshmen majoring in economics, music, and sociology. Eventually the choice will be available to those in about one-third of the 88 majors.

Monday, September 27, 2010 - 3:00am

The violent deaths of students in off-campus incidents have shaken Seton Hall University and the University of Wisconsin at Stout.

At Seton Hall, a sophomore who was killed was among five people shot at an off-campus party, allegedly by someone who tried to attend the party, was rebuffed, and returned with a gun and started shooting. Five people in all were shot, including two other students from Seton Hall and one from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, The Star-Ledger reported. The newspaper quoted an attendee at the party as saying that "the whole crowd was like a stampede. Girls were being trampled on ... it was pure terror."

At Stout, authorities have arrested two students -- one a hockey player and one who was recruited to play hockey -- in connection with the death of a third student, The Chippewa Herald reported. According to authorities, the two students who have been charged got into a fight with the third at a bar; after the fight was broken up, they followed him after he left on his bike, and assaulted him. The assault caused the bike to crash into a concrete wall, resulting in head injuries that killed the student.

Monday, September 27, 2010 - 3:00am

Kaplan Higher Education is today announcing its "Kaplan Commitment" program, which it first unveiled this month while urging the U.S. Education Department to revise proposed regulations on the "gainful employment" of graduates of for-profit career programs. Under the new program, students at Kaplan University, Kaplan College or other Kaplan Higher Education schools will be able to enroll in classes for several weeks and assess whether the Kaplan coursework meets their educational needs before making a financial commitment. Kaplan will also conduct various assessments to help determine whether students are likely to be successful. The changes respond to critics of for-profit higher education who have said that some institutions encourage students to enroll -- paying tuition in large part with federal grants and loans -- in programs they are unlikely to complete. Students who withdraw from these Kaplan courses early will not have to pay for their coursework, and they need not receive the federal loans they would obtain to take the courses.

Friday, September 24, 2010 - 3:00am

The chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley said the institution plans to cut another 200 jobs to save $20 million, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. In a letter to employees this week, Robert Birgeneau said that Berkeley "cannot continue with our current administrative structures and operations and be the best run public university in the country." The cuts, which he said will be achieved through "a combination of attrition, retirements, voluntary separations and layoffs," would be in addition to about 600 positions eliminated since last year.

Friday, September 24, 2010 - 3:00am

Days after it called off the screening of a potentially controversial new documentary on the environment, the University of Minnesota has announced that it will show the film, as planned, The Pioneer Press of St. Paul reported. Minnesota officials had said the delay was to give faculty members time to review the documentary produced by its natural history museum, "Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story," for factual accuracy, but the decision raised questions in some quarters about whether the university was yielding to concerns of agricultural interests. The head of the museum, Susan Weller, told the newspaper that the show would go on as planned after she reassured Minnesota administrators that a review process had been conducted and that no more faculty review was needed.

Friday, September 24, 2010 - 3:00am

Robert M. Berdahl announced Thursday that he will retire as president of the Association of American Universities on May 1. Berdahl has led the association of 63 research universities in the United States and Canada since 2006. Berdahl said that he plans in retirement to remain active on higher education issues and to pursue various writing projects. Before coming to the association, he served as chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley and president of the University of Texas at Austin.

Friday, September 24, 2010 - 3:00am

Many residence life officials have been keeping a careful watch this fall for bedbugs, as a handful of colleges have reported their presence on campus, while New York City and other urban areas suffer major infestations. In the past week, bedbugs have been spotted at several additional campuses, including: Indiana University at Bloomington (where a quick response is being credited with minimizing problems), Lehigh University, Oklahoma State University and Reinhardt University.

Friday, September 24, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Minnesota violated a former dental student's due process rights last year when administrators upheld his two-year suspension by a student judicial panel without considering evidence he had proffered, a state appeals court judge ruled Tuesday. The decision by a judge on the state Court of Appeals came in a case in which the university's Campus Committee on Student Behavior suspended Noah Berge after concluding that he had engaged in “[t]hreatening, harassing, or assaultive conduct" against a female student who had accused him of sexually assaulting her. Although an advisory committee to the university's provost found that the judiciary panel had violated his due process rights by barring him from preventing evidence about the impact a suspension would have on his career, the provost reinstated the panel's ruling. The provost's decision was "arbitrary and capricious," the appeals court judge said, because the university lacks guidelines for disciplinary actions by the provost, among other reasons. The judge ordered Minnesota to give Berge another hearing before a new student behavior panel.

Friday, September 24, 2010 - 3:00am

Playoff PAC, a group opposed to the current, bowl-based system of determining the national champion in college football, is filing complaints with the Internal Revenue Service about the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls, charging them with paying excessive salaries that violate their tax-exempt status, the Associated Press reported. The CEO of the Sugar Bowl, for example, earned $645,000 in 2009, $200,000 more than he earned in 2007. Bowl officials are defending their operations as legitimate and accuse Playoff PAC of simply trying another way to attack the current championship system.

Friday, September 24, 2010 - 3:00am

A day after Harvard University's president said that it would reinstate a Reserve Officer Training Corps unit after the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy ends, Massachusetts' newest U.S. senator blasted the university for not having already done so -- at a time when its officials are pushing for a law that would help illegal immigrants attend college, The Boston Globe reported. “I am extremely disappointed to learn of Harvard University’s decision to continue to ban ROTC from its campus,’’ Senator Scott Brown, a Republican, said in a statement. “It is incomprehensible to me that Harvard does not allow ROTC to use its facilities, but welcomes students who are in this country illegally.’’ He added: "Harvard has its priorities upside down. They should embrace young people who want to serve their country, rather than promoting a plan that provides amnesty to students who are in this country illegally.’’ President Drew Gilpin Faust had said Wednesday that Harvard, like other institutions that ended ROTC units when the military began formally discriminating against gay people, would eagerly "regularize our relationship" with the armed forces when they end their policy that conflicts with Harvard's nondiscrimination policies.

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