Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 17, 2016

Laci Green, a YouTube sex educator, feminist activist and popular campus speaker, was heckled at length during an appearance Tuesday at the University of South Florida. Someone who was not a student or employee shouted at her before being escorted from the auditorium. The university said that such disruptions are not permitted. Green subsequently called off a planned appearance at Towson University.

November 17, 2016

Newt Gingrich and U.S. Representative Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican, are slated to join Career Education Colleges and Universities at an event Friday. The group, which is the primary trade organization for the for-profit sector, is announcing a new campaign to close the skills gap with five million trained professionals. Gingrich, the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a prominent adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, in August appeared in a web video with Steve Gunderson, the for-profit group's president and CEO.

November 17, 2016

The winners of the 2016 National Book Awards were announced Wednesday night.

  • Ibram X. Kendi, assistant professor of African-American history at the University of Florida, won the award for nonfiction for Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (Nation Books).
  • Daniel Borzutzky won the award for poetry for The Performance of Becoming Human (Brooklyn Arts Press). He has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Koç University in Istanbul and Wilbur Wright College of the City Colleges of Chicago.
  • Colson Whitehead won the award for fiction for The Underground Railroad (Doubleday/Penguin Random House). He has been a writer in residence at Vassar College, the University of Richmond and the University of Wyoming.
  • U.S. Representative John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell won the prize for young people's literature for March: Book Three (Top Shelf Productions/IDW Publishing).
November 17, 2016

Robots won't be competing with humans to get into college any time soon, as researchers at Japan's National Institute of Informatics have abandoned a plan to create a robot smart enough to be admitted to the University of Tokyo, The Japan Times reported. The Todai Robot project, which launched in 2011, aimed to create an college-ready artificial intelligence by March 2022, but the researchers recently discovered limitations that would make it difficult for it to process certain exam questions. A prototype of the robot took a standardized college admissions test this year, but its score was not high enough to be considered for admission.

November 17, 2016

A prominent college president and an accomplished physicist were among those named by President Obama on Wednesday as winners of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The president is Eduardo Padrón of Miami Dade College. The physicist is Richard Garwin, who taught at Columbia and Harvard Universities and the University of Chicago. Details on all the winners may be found here.

November 17, 2016

Washington Senator Patty Murray will stay on as the ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Senate Democrats announced Wednesday.

Murray worked with committee chairman Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act last year. The K-12 education law replaced the unpopular No Child Left Behind Act and scaled back requirements for some standardized tests in schools.

The two lawmakers are known for their history of cooperation on the committee to pass legislation and are expected to tackle a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act at some point in the next Congress. Murray was also named to the position of assistant Democratic leader in the party's Senate leadership.

In a statement, Murray pledged to continue working with Republicans but said she would oppose any divisive policies offered by President-elect Donald Trump.

“I look forward to continuing my work as the top Democrat on this committee that focuses on so many of the critical issues facing families and communities across the country. We were able to take some important steps forward on this committee in recent years to help students, workers and families -- and I am ready to get to work with any Republican who is willing to work with us to build on that progress and move our country in the right direction," Murray said. "But I am also ready to fight back as hard as I can, every step of the way, if Republicans choose to embrace the darker elements of President-elect Trump’s campaign and focus on dividing our country, taking away access to care for women and families, undermining communities’ rights and protections, hurting students and workers, or dragging us backwards.”

November 17, 2016

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police forces maintained by private colleges are not subject to open records requests, The Indianapolis Star reported. The ruling came in a suit by ESPN, which sought records from the University of Notre Dame related to charges and investigations involving athletes. While the ruling favors Notre Dame and other private institutions, lawmakers may revisit the relevant law next year.

November 17, 2016

Leading critics and supporters of the for-profit college industry gathered on a panel at the Cato Institute Wednesday to discuss the sector's future of under President-elect Donald Trump. The six panelists agreed on one point: nobody really knows what to expect, given Trump’s unpredictability.

It’s certainly a possibility that Trump will be inclined to roll back regulations that have been imposed on the beleaguered industry, said Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and Eric Juhlin, CEO at the Center for Excellence in Higher Education. However, they agreed that a total deregulation of the industry was unlikely. It’s also possible that the U.S. Congress will make many of the significant policy decisions concerning the for-profit industry, agreed Nassirian and Ben Miller, senior director of postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress.

The panelists could not say with certainty who Trump’s pick for education secretary will be, although it’s likely that the position will go to someone with more K-12 policy experience than higher education experience, said Neal McCluskey, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute.

The panelists were less willing to agree on the Obama’s administration legacy with the for-profit industry. The Education Department under Obama will be known for its disproportionate focus on regulating for-profits, said McCluskey. But Robert Shireman, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who previously played a prominent role in the department's crackdown on the industry, thought differently: history will show that the for-profit industry shot itself in the foot, he said.

November 17, 2016

Many presidents try to build support for new strategic plans. But Rebecca Bergman, president of Gustavus Adolphus, has gone farther than most -- Bergman and her husband have pledged $4 million to the college to help carry out various parts of the plan. Details of the gift may be found here.

November 17, 2016

Today on the Academic Minute, Lewis Davis, professor of economics at Union College, examines whether individualistic societies are richer or poorer than collectivist ones. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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