Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, August 2, 2010 - 3:00am

The long-awaited rankings of doctoral programs by the National Research Council -- years behind schedule and with an evolving methodology -- aren't coming this month, but are apparently due soon. NRC officials have been declining to give public indications of when the rankings will be released, but the Web site for the project posted a notice last week that indicated some campus officials were asking about the timing of August vacations in light of the potential release of the project. According to the notice, the rankings won't come out in August, but universities should find out in August when they will receive the data and when the public will receive the data -- at a later point also not in August.

Monday, August 2, 2010 - 3:00am

A new California law requires public colleges and universities to let students from foster care -- who frequently have no place to go during the summers -- to have access to dormitories year-round, the Los Angeles Times reported. About 700 University of California students came from the foster care system, as did 1,200 at California State University campuses and several thousand at community colleges.

Monday, August 2, 2010 - 3:00am

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday admitted that it tracked Howard Zinn, the noted historian and political activist who died in January, from 1949 to 1974, and the bureau released 423 pages of records from the monitoring of Zinn. Salon noted that this monitoring took place "despite having apparently no evidence that he ever committed a crime." And TPM noted that the records indicate that a senior official at Boston University, where Zinn taught, tried to have him fired in 1970. (If you are wondering if that official might have been John Silber, the long-time BU president with whom Zinn had many disagreements, it wasn't, as Silber hadn't been hired at the time.)

Monday, August 2, 2010 - 3:00am

Some University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center faculty members have been letting medical residents operate at a public hospital with less supervision and training than is standard and generally seen as necessary, The Dallas Morning News reported. While UT officials denied wrongdoing, the article cited the resignation of one faculty member in protest, and concerns expressed by other faculty members and various warnings in consultants' reports. The faculty member who quit said that the hospital had become "clinical fodder."

Monday, August 2, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has brought civil charges against Samuel Wyly and Charles Wyly, two brothers, for securities fraud. While the SEC is accusing them of hundreds of millions of dollars in gains through insider trading, one charge relates to the University of Michigan. AnnArbor.com reported that Samuel Wyly's $10 million gift in 1997 came from cash he gained through securities fraud. A lawyer for the brothers has denied wrongdoing. A spokeswoman for the university said: "Mr. Wyly has been a long-time friend and supporter of the university. We're sorry to hear he is facing these difficult circumstances."

Friday, July 30, 2010 - 3:00am

Even though women now make up half of medical school enrollments, they lag in assuming leadership roles in the classroom -- but that need not be the case, according to new research led by Nancy Wayne, a professor of physiology at the University of California at Los Angeles. For the research -- results of which are appearing in the August issue of Academic Medicine -- Wayne tracked the roles of men and women in small group discussions in medical school courses requiring such discussions and presentations by team leaders. Leaving the roles to volunteers, she found, very few women assume leadership positions. But when a brief pep talk is given to students about the importance of trying out leadership roles in small groups, she found, women are significantly more likely to go for the leadership position.

Wayne said the finding is important because the medical school curriculum is shifting away from lectures toward more group work, and also because many people assume that once women achieve a critical mass in enrollments, no further issues related to gender will need addressing. "People assume that if you have parity in the numbers of men and women training to become physicians, then everything else will fall into place," said Wayne. "Surprisingly, we found that wasn't the case."

Friday, July 30, 2010 - 3:00am

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted to pass along the 2011 budget bill that includes Education Department appropriations with no changes to the higher education provisions approved Tuesday by a subcommittee. As it stands, the bill keeps funding unchanged from 2010 levels for most financial aid and access programs, and boosts the National Institutes of Health's budget by $1 billion, to $32 billion. Also unchanged from the subcommittee bill is the absence of funding to make up for the $5.7 billion Pell Grant shortfall. The House of Representatives' appropriations bill included that money, but the Senate committee's Democratic members said that a means for addressing it would have to wait until it goes before the full Senate this fall, or when it is combined with the House measure in conference.

Friday, July 30, 2010 - 3:00am

Students at the Calcutta campus of Aliah University, a Muslim institution, have barred a female instructor from teaching without wearing a full burqa, the Associated Press reported. University officials deny that they enforce a dress code, but report that they have asked the instructor to consider teaching at another campus. Sirin Middya, the instructor, said that she is a devout Muslim. "I don't have a problem wearing the burqa, but when I wear it, it will be of my own free will," she said.

Friday, July 30, 2010 - 3:00am

Chicago City Colleges could see a series of reforms -- and also 225 layoffs of non-instructional employees -- under a budget announced Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. To save money, the two-year college system is eliminating positions, and centralizing many administrative functions at its seven campuses. With those savings and increased tuition revenue (due to enrollment increases), a series of enhancements are planned. More funds will be provided for technology and job training, with an emphasis on matching job training with actual jobs.

Friday, July 30, 2010 - 3:00am

The Mount Sinai School of Medicine has released research that suggests students can succeed in medical school without any of the three things normally assumed to be absolute requirements to get in -- organic chemistry, physics and the Medical College Admission Test -- The New York Times reported. Mount Sinai has long had a small program admitting students who studied humanities or social sciences subjects as undergraduates and didn't take the MCAT. The new research found that these students' performance in medical school was equivalent to that of those who went through a traditional pre-med curriculum and who took the MCAT.

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