Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, April 12, 2010 - 3:00am

Paul Quinn College, a historically black college in Texas, has declared that it will not let its fight with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools get in the way of its survival. SACS yanked the college's accreditation last year, and while the college is suing over that decision, it wants a back-up as well, since accreditation is essential for the college's students to receive federal aid. So now the college is seeking recognition from another accreditor, the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Monday, April 12, 2010 - 3:00am

Citing labor issues in Honduras, the University of Wisconsin at Madison announced Friday that it is ending its licensing agreement with Nike. Madison, like many universities with lucrative licensing deals, has insisted that companies pledge to meet certain standards, especially in production outside the United States, where workers lack the labor protections provided by U.S. law. The specific incident in Honduras involves a Nike subcontractor (for which, under the university's labor standards, Nike is responsible) that failed to pay more than $2 million in required severance payments. The incident has led to calls at Madison and elsewhere for universities to cut ties to Nike, but Madison's action is believed to be the first such move. Biddy Martin, the chancellor at Madison, issued a statement indicating that the university acted only after trying to get Nike to deal with the problems.

"We do not take this action lightly," Martin said. "In general, it is preferable to remain engaged with our licensees, to be part of the conversation and to be involved in working toward solutions in what can be described historically as a troubled industry. In this case, however, we have reached an impasse and decided it was best, all things considered, to end this business relationship,"

Nike officials did not respond to the announcement.

Monday, April 12, 2010 - 3:00am

A man on a bike slapped the behinds of two women on the Ball State University campus Wednesday, and when the university notified students, the reaction was not what officials expected. A Facebook page devoted to the "Ball State Ass Slapper" attracted thousands of fans, T-shirts were created, songs were written, and the entire situation was generally made into a joke. In turn this reaction has led to counterreactions, with some saying that the jokes are making light of the issue of violence against women, and Jo Ann Gora, the president of Ball State, calling the Facebook page "an embarrassment."

Monday, April 12, 2010 - 3:00am

Marymount College in California, like many colleges, is frustrated by delays in getting local approval for building and expansion plans. The college's unusual response? It is taking its proposal directly to its local voters, by placing a referendum on the fall ballot to bypass normal reviews, the Los Angeles Times reported. College officials say that after 10 years of delays, they have no choice if they want to move ahead with ambitious campus growth plans, but some residents see a danger that any developers who face opposition to their plans may now try for their own ballot measures.

Monday, April 12, 2010 - 3:00am

Blackboard plans to announce today the release of a new version of its widely used e-learning suite, with an emphasis on incorporating social networking tools such as wikis, YouTube, Flickr, and Slideshare. "We provided a very intuitive process to search for and add content from YouTube, Flickr and Slideshare to a course without ever having to leave the LMS," said Stacey Fontenot, a Blackboard vice president, in an e-mail. "And this content can be leveraged not only as stand alone course content but used in different places like discussion boards posts and assessment questions to provide educators with more dynamic ways to engage and assess learners." Version 9.1 also has tools that will help better organize and evaluate student contributions to course wikis, Fontenot said. Certain parts of the new version were designed "with WebCT clients in mind," she added, as part of an effort to "create a familiar environment" for those campuses that used WebCT for their learning-management needs before Blackboard bought the competitor in 2005.

Monday, April 12, 2010 - 3:00am

Ten years after Florida eliminated affirmative action in admissions for its university system, the gaps have grown between both the black and Latino share of high school graduates and of enrolled university students, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Under the plan -- championed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush -- universities wouldn't consider race and ethnicity in admissions, but would offer spots to those at the top of their high school classes, regardless of test scores. Bush said that the plan offered a legal way to promote diversity -- at a time when some doubted (incorrectly, in turned out) that courts would continue to allow affirmative action in admissions.

Friday, April 9, 2010 - 3:00am

When Duke University held a celebration of its basketball team's championship Monday afternoon, the university broke an agreement made with faculty members not to hold such events during class times, The New York Times reported. In 2006, the university agreed to hold such events only in the evenings. The provost, Peter Lange, told the Times that "there was a planning meeting, and someone at the meeting was assigned to check in with me about whether there was an agreement. That person never got in touch with me.” Lange said that any future agreements would abide by the agreement. Richard Hain, a mathematics professor who had pushed for the agreement, said: “How can somebody schedule a major event that wipes out basically all undergraduate classes the whole afternoon, without talking to the provost?”

Friday, April 9, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of California at Santa Barbara accidentally sent notes to 60 applicants on the waiting list that they had been admitted, the Los Angeles Times reported. The applicants have now been informed of the mistake and are back on the waiting list.

Friday, April 9, 2010 - 3:00am

Never let it be said that the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators fails to learn from its mistakes. The group's tightly controlled and secretive search for a president in 2007 resulted in the hiring of Philip R. Day Jr., who resigned less than two years later amid a scandal that was well under way at the time he was hired. The failed process resulted in significant second-guessing.

The search to replace Day has been conducted much more openly, and the association on Thursday announced three semi-finalists, two from within the organization (Joan Crissman, the interim president, and Justin Draeger, the vice president for public policy and advocacy) and one from outside, Michael Angulo, executive director and CEO of the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. Angulo headed the New Jersey agency at a time when it was reviewed by federal and state investigators for payments it received from lenders. This time around, though, NASFAA officials say they are fully aware of the since-resolved allegations and are confident that they pose no problems for the association.

Friday, April 9, 2010 - 3:00am

Joel Bouwens, chair of the Hope College board, has released a letter criticizing a petition on gay rights as "ambush journalism," The Grand Rapids Press reported. The petition, by students, faculty and alumni, called on the college to reconsider its policies, following a decision to reject a visit by a screenwriter because he is also a gay rights activist. Bouwens said that board members weren't afraid to consider these issues, but criticized the petition organizers for telling their story to reporters. They, in turn, said board members were criticizing the messenger rather than considering the issues.

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