Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 12, 2011

Ross T. Ashley has been identified as the man who shot and killed a police officer at Virginia Tech last week, and who then killed himself. Radford University, which is close to Virginia Tech, confirmed that Ashley had been a part-time student there as a business management major. Ashley is suspected in the theft of a Mercedes SUV, but authorities are still trying to figure out why he came to Virginia Tech and murdered a police officer there.

December 12, 2011

An article in The Contra Costa Times explores the challenges California State University System campuses face due to high percentages of new students requiring remedial education. Starting next summer, those students will be required to take courses the summer before they enroll (either in person or online) with the goal of reducing the percentage who must focus much of their freshman year on remediation. Many faculty members, the newspaper reported, are skeptical that the summer program will be sufficient. "A 15-hour intervention is just not enough intervention when it comes to skills that should have been developed over 12 years," said Sally Murphy, a communications professor who directs general education at Cal State East Bay.

December 12, 2011

The Texas Association of Business is paying for billboard advertising that focuses on low graduation rates at community colleges, calling out institutions by name, The Texas Tribune reported. The first billboard ad ran in Austin and said of Austin Community College: "4% OF ACC STUDENTS GRADUATE IN 3 YEARS. IS THAT A GOOD USE OF TAX $? TX ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESS." A new ad is focused on the community college district in Dallas.

Richard Rhodes, president of Austin Community College, said that the business group was using an inappropriate measure. He noted that only about 5.5 percent of the college's students are measured in the federal calculation of graduation rates. "People really have to understand the metrics and the data behind the metrics," Rhodes said in a college podcast. "There's a much larger story when we think about community college students and what their intent is and why they come here."

December 12, 2011

In today’s Academic Minute, Robin Bell of Columbia University explains the strange behavior of water beneath the glaciers of Antarctica. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.


 
December 9, 2011

Larry Sager has been scheduled to step down of the law school of the University of Texas at Austin at the end of this academic year. But The Austin American-Statesman reported that he was forced to resign Thursday, following complaints from faculty members about the allocation of funds. The disagreements centered on the use of funds from the law school's foundation.

December 9, 2011

Sara Jayne Steen, the president of Plymouth State University, sent an e-mail to students telling them they could skip classes today if they wanted to stay off campus to avoid a pro-gun protest, the Associated Press reported. Opponents of the university's gun ban have vowed to hold a protest today, and to attend the protest with loaded guns. The university plans to enforce its ban.

December 9, 2011

In today’s Academic Minute, Hollis Seamon of the College of Saint Rose explains the modern resurgence of fairy tales as a literary genre.  Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

December 9, 2011

The YU Beacon, an online student publication at Yeshiva University, has lost its university funding in the wake of a controversy over a first-person sex article by an anonymous student at the Stern College for Women, the undergraduate women's division at Yeshiva. The article, "How Do I Even Begin to Explain This," is an account of "[p]eeling off my Stern-girl exterior" and meeting a man (who normally wears a yarmulke) for sex at a hotel. The essay is tame by the standards of college newspaper sex columns, but was a shock at Yeshiva. Many of the student comments are negative. One such comment: "That story was extremely disturbing, and it too exemplified ideas that are completely contrary to the Torah. The reason this article has generated more controversy is simply because pseudoerotica has more fans than murder descriptions." Others were more sympathetic, with one student writing that "I thought this article had a lot of merit because it touched on a serious issue that exists in the modern orthodox community in general and the YU/Stern community in particular: the schism between what our educators view as reality and the reality that exists for our generation."

The home page of the Beacon announces that, in the wake of the article, "YU and The Beacon have agreed to separate." Fox News quoted a Yeshiva spokesman as saying that the student government, and not the university, made the decision to cut off funds.

December 9, 2011

The board of Florida A&M University voted Thursday to reprimand James Ammons, the president, in the wake of the hazing death of a student in the institution's marching band, the Associated Press reported. Board members also complained that Ammons had not kept them informed or dealt with the accreditation problems facing some academic programs. When the AP asked Ammons after the meeting if he had "dodged a bullet," he said "I heard the bullet loudly and clearly."

 

December 9, 2011

Virginia Tech, where the tragedy of shooting deaths is known too well, again experienced that trauma on Thursday afternoon. Students and others were encouraged to stay wherever they were -- with activities called off -- after a police officer was shot at a routine traffic stop. Reports followed of another dead body and of a search for the killer. By the end of the afternoon, news reports said that the second body was the shooter, and the university said that normal activities could resume. Final exams that had been scheduled for today have been postponed for a day.

Late Thursday, Virginia Tech identified the police officer who was killed: Deriek W. Crouse, 39, who with his wife was raising five children and step-children. He was an Army veteran who had worked for the university since 2007.

 

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