Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, June 15, 2015 - 3:00am

The College Board at some point last week changed its explanation of why it was not scoring two sections of the SAT given on June 6, but did so without indicating a change had been made, and while keeping a time stamp on the page that was inaccurate, The Washington Post reported. The change made more clear that the College Board was not scoring two sections on the SAT, something about which there has been some confusion. A spokesman said he could not say why the posting was made in a way that hid the date it was made.

The news comes amid growing criticism from students who took the SAT on June 6, many of whom doubt the College Board's explanation that it can give them full scores without two sections on the test. Some students have organized a petition demanding a free retest, and some reports on social media indicate that some students who have called the College Board have been told they can get a free retest. The College Board spokesman declined to comment on those reports.

Two of the students who organized the petition emailed Inside Higher Ed to say that they had heard (but not confirmed) the reports about some test takers being offered a free retest. But they said this was not a good solution, done privately. "If some students are actually getting retests just by calling, we would hope that the College Board would inform everyone that a free retest is an option for them," said Courtney Noll and Sarah Choudhury.

Monday, June 15, 2015 - 3:00am

A judge on Friday ordered the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to release emails regarding the revoked tenure appointment of Steven Salaita. The American Indian studies scholar found himself without a job last year after Chancellor Phyllis Wise objected to the tone of his Twitter comments about Israel. Salaita has maintained that donors illegally influenced Wise’s decision, based on the previous release of some emails between Wise and unnamed donors. Salaita wants the full, unredacted email record regarding his nonappointment, but the university has maintained that such a request is unduly burdensome.

Robin Kaler, university spokesperson, said that the institution maintains the request is too large, and that it will “do its best” over the coming weeks to produce the some 9,600 documents regarding Salaita’s case. Kaler said the university tried to negotiate his request to a more manageable size, with little success. Maria LaHood, Salaita’s lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights, said the university was trying to avoid transparency, but that the court agreed releasing the emails was in the public interest. “We look forward to seeing what the university was so eager to hide,” she said. Salaita has another ongoing lawsuit against university leaders and the John Doe donors for breach of contract and tortious interference, among other claims.

Monday, June 15, 2015 - 3:00am

LaMont Glenn Jackson, who just finished a term as student trustee on the board of the Los Angeles Community College District, has been charged with attempted extortion, The Los Angles Times reported. Jackson is charged with trying to force a student government leader to resign by threatening to release a "revealing" photograph of her if she did not quit her position. Jackson's lawyer said he has done nothing wrong and would be cleared of wrongdoing.

Monday, June 15, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of Cambridge, in Britain, has received £2.5 million ($3.9 million) from the Lego Foundation to endow the Lego Professorship of Play in Education, Development and Learning, BBC reported. Additional funding is being provided for a research center. A university spokesman said that the Lego professorship would be "open to all those whose work falls within the general field of the title of the office."

Monday, June 15, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Robert Pallitto, a political scientist at Seton Hall University, helps us understand and celebrate the document’s legacy. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, June 12, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will not lose accreditation over the academic fraud that occurred there, but it will face one year of probation, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges announced Thursday. In October, the university released a detailed report about widespread and long-lasting academic fraud at the university. For 20 years, some employees at the university knowingly steered about 1,500 athletes toward no-show courses that never met and were not taught by any faculty members, and in which the only work required was a single research paper that received a high grade no matter the content.

In January, UNC submitted a 200-page report to the accrediting body detailing the steps it has taken since the scandal came to light. The university will have to submit a similar update after the probationary period.

"The commission’s decision is the next step -- an expected consequence -- in Carolina’s tireless efforts to ensure integrity in everything we do and that the past irregularities are not allowed to recur," Carol Folt, UNC's chancellor, said in a statement.

Friday, June 12, 2015 - 3:00am

John L. Hennessy announced Thursday that he will step down as president of Stanford University next summer. He has been president since 2000 and served as a faculty member and administrator at Stanford before that. While president, he launched and completed a $6.2 billion fund-raising campaign, pushed university-industry relationships, and saw Stanford assume a major role in the development of massive open online courses. Stanford's announcement, with more details on his tenure, may be found here.

In March, at the annual meeting of the American Council on Education, Hennessy discussed his vision for the future of higher education and the digital role in that future.

A 2012 article in The New Yorker explored the close ties between Stanford and Silicon Valley under Hennessy's leadership.

Friday, June 12, 2015 - 4:24am

The Louisiana Legislature on Thursday approved a budget deal that is expected to avert severe cuts to the state's higher education system. The deal is based on a series of legislative maneuvers to raise revenue while allowing Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, to say he stuck to his pledge not to raise taxes. The New York Times reported that many legislators -- Republican and Democratic alike -- used phrases like "money laundering" and "stupid" to describe the deal. But they said they were voting for it because Governor Jindal had threatened to veto all other approaches, and lawmakers did not want to see the deep cuts to higher education.

Friday, June 12, 2015 - 3:00am

Some 65 percent of tenured senior faculty members plan to put off retirement for various reasons, according to a new study from the TIAA-CREF Institute. But the reasons behind that figure might not be what you think. Just 16 percent of respondents said they’d like to retire by the “normal” retirement age of 67 but expected to work longer for financial reasons. A much bigger proportion of respondents -- 49 percent -- said they’d want to work past age 67 by choice.

Those findings are similar to what was observed in a similar 2013 TIAA-CREF study on faculty retirement: that faculty members were putting off retirement, but not just for financial reasons in a still-bumpy economy. Some of those choices are based on “unconfirmed assumptions,” according to the report -- either that faculty members won’t have enough money to retire or that they won’t find viable work alternatives. Female faculty members are more likely than their male colleagues to expect to retire by normal retirement age. Paul J. Yakoboski, a senior economist who co-authored the report, said universities should talk to faculty members about both the financial and psychosocial aspects of retirement so that they can make informed choices. The full report is available here.

Friday, June 12, 2015 - 3:00am

The Association of American University Presses' sixth annual survey on digital book publishing finds presses are pursuing myriad strategies but balancing them against limited resources. Nearly all respondents, or 92 percent, are exploring digital ebook sales, but eight other strategies, from print on demand to ebook rentals, registered between 86 and 36 percent. Few university presses believe ebook sales will be a substantial revenue generator, however. This fiscal year, about three-quarters of the respondents said they believed ebook sales will account for 15 percent or less of their overall revenue. Seventy-four university presses, or 54 percent of the AAUP's membership, responded to the survey.

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