Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, February 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Cornerstone University, in Michigan, has announced that it will resume a tenure system for new faculty hires, three years after the board voted to stop offering tenure, The Grand Rapids Press reported. Faculty members opposed the shift three years ago and asked the board to reconsider. Dan Wielhouwer, president of the board, said: "Do-overs are great. And we're going to do it right this time."

Monday, February 22, 2010 - 3:00am

For several years, some applicants to colleges have been submitting videos, but Tufts University this year started encouraging the practice, and more than 1,000 applicants did so. As The Boston Globe reported, some of the videos -- posted on YouTube -- have attracted strong fan bases, with viewers campaigning for the admission of some of the applicants.

Friday, February 19, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Hawaii at Manoa's athletics department may be facing a deficit as high as $10.1 million, The Honolulu Advertiser reported. Among the reasons for the growing deficit: growing travel costs and declining ticket sales.

Friday, February 19, 2010 - 3:00am

Authorities have arrested a Washington State man who formerly worked at the University of California at Santa Barbara on suspicion of making a bomb threat and harassing the institution, The Tri-City Herald reported. The action follows an investigation of elaborate stories posted on Craigslist and e-mailed to the university by Neil Baker, a former engineer there. In one story, a mass suicide is described at the university. In one online image, Baker is shown in a mask, holding a rifle. The various comments suggest that Baker believes university officials have a vendetta against him.

Friday, February 19, 2010 - 3:00am

An article in The Tallahassee Democrat examines the layoffs of 21 tenured faculty members, and other tenure-track faculty members, at Florida State University. Faculty leaders charge that the layoffs are inappropriate, even given the difficult budgets facing the university, and the United Faculty of Florida, the faculty union, is challenging the dismissals.

Friday, February 19, 2010 - 3:00am

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on Thursday raided offices at Sonoma State University, The Press Democrat reported. The FBI investigation apparently focuses on possible misuse of federal grant funds through an institute that was shut down at the university in 2007.

Friday, February 19, 2010 - 3:00am

The Anti-Defamation League on Thursday came out against calls by some Jewish groups to boycott the University of California at Irvine (in enrollment and donations) because of controversies over campus events related to Israel, most recently a talk by the Israeli ambassador to the United States, who was repeatedly interrupted by protesters. The ADL praised the university's leaders for responding quickly in condemning the interruptions, even while noting concerns over numerous anti-Israel events. However, the ADL said that a boycott of a university would not be an appropriate way to respond even to legitimate concerns. Abraham H. Foxman, ADL's national director, said: "We are surprised that those who call for a boycott fail to recognize that it is a double-edged sword that legitimizes a tactic so often used against Jews and Israel, particularly in academic settings. We believe academic boycotts are inappropriate, harmful and counterproductive, and will not work to resolve the situation on campus."

Friday, February 19, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Maryland at Baltimore made $410,000 in "questionable" payments to a senior administrator for a sabbatical he did not take and to conduct summer research, and failed to disclose the payments to a legislative budget committee, a state audit has concluded. The audit by the Maryland General Assembly's Office of Legislative Audits found that the "senior management employee" -- whom neither the audit nor the university identified -- had received $350,000 in 2007 as compensation for sabbatical leave that the employee was "eligible for, but never actually took," on top of an annual salary salary of $360,000. The audit said that the university's president, David J. Ramsay, had approved the payment even though the university's policies and those if the University System of Maryland "do not contain any provisions that allow employees to be paid for unused sabbatical leave." (Ramsay issued a statement about the audit.) The audit also found that the same employee had received a total of $60,000 from 2007 to 2009 for summer research -- compensation that was approved not by the manager's supervisor, but by a subordinate. The administrator's compensation package had not been submitted to the state's attorney general or the system's Board of Regents for review.

Thursday, February 18, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of California at Berkeley, barred by the state from considering race in admissions, is today announcing a major, privately supported effort to create an inclusive curriculum and campus. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a $16 million gift -- which could grow considerably with matching funds -- will pay for a variety of efforts. Among them: five endowed chairs, including one on disability and one on gay rights; funds to revise 30 courses to emphasize community and public service; and scholarships for transfer students from community colleges, who are more likely to be black, Latino or from low-income families than are students who enroll as freshmen.

Thursday, February 18, 2010 - 3:00am

High schools in eight states have agreed to participate in a project aimed at using a system of "board examinations" to get high achieving students to do college-level work as early as 10th grade, the National Center for Education and the Economy announced Wednesday. Under the plan, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, high schools in Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont will give volunteering students one of a series of exams (such as ACT’s QualityCore, the College Board’s Advanced Placement exam, or Pearson/Edexcel’s IGCSE and A-level programs) near the end of 10th grade, and those who pass will earn a high school diploma and the chance (if they choose) to enroll in any open admissions college in their state the following fall. Students can also opt to stay in high school and take courses designed to prepare them for admission to a selective college. Students who fail the exam will be prepped to help them pass it the next time they take it. “By introducing these Board Examination Systems in pilot high schools in these states as early as the 2011-2012 school year, we will begin a process that will ultimately prepare dramatically more students for college success and greatly reduce the high number of students who now take remedial courses in college,” said Marc Tucker, president of the national center.

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