Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, June 12, 2015 - 3:00am

The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell Thursday expressing disappointment in how the federal agency views the for-profit sector in the wake of the department's decision to provide debt relief to former Corinthian Colleges students.

Steve Gunderson, APSCU's president and CEO, wrote, "The challenges facing the students who attended Corinthian Colleges are a direct result of the department's actions targeting private-sector institutions. Institutions of higher education should be held accountable, but any meaningful accountability must be applied across all of higher education."

Gunderson specifically took issue with a blog post from the department that explained options available to Corinthian students.

"I was disappointed that the department used a blog post about debt relief options available for students of a school that has closed to put forth sweeping, biased criticisms of private-sector institutions serving new traditional students," he wrote.

Friday, June 12, 2015 - 3:00am

Virginia prosecutors have dropped charges against Martese Johnson, a black student at the University of Virginia, The Washington Post reported. When Johnson was arrested in March, photographs showing him bloodied after police officers detained him outraged many who saw the incident as an example of discriminatory policing, and set off a furor on campus and beyond. Johnson was stopped after he tried to enter a bar.

The state's attorney issued this statement about the decision to drop charges: “Upon review of the evidence resulting from a thorough and independent criminal investigation conducted by the Virginia State Police, the commonwealth reached a conclusion that the interest of justice and the long-term interest of the Charlottesville community are best served by using this case as an opportunity to engage ordinary citizens, law enforcement officers and public officials in constructive dialogue concerning police and citizen relationships in a diverse community.”

Friday, June 12, 2015 - 3:00am

Follett Corporation and the Nebraska Book Company on Thursday announced a deal in which Nebraska (which operates beyond that state) will sell 200 bookstores it runs for colleges to Follett. The deal leaves Follett with more than 1,150 local campus bookstores and 1,600 virtual store operations. Nebraska in turn plans to focus on the part of its business in which it provides services to independent college bookstores.

Friday, June 12, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Lisa Phillips, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, discusses the effect unrequited love has on inspiration. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Thursday, June 11, 2015 - 3:00am

The five largest research publishers (a group that changes a bit by discipline) started publishing half of academic papers in 2006, up from 30 percent in 1996 and 20 percent in 1973, according to new research published Wednesday in PLOS ONE by researchers at the University of Montreal. The piece argues that this concentration has reached oligopoly status and poses dangers to academic publishing. “Overall, the major publishers control more than half of the market of scientific papers both in the natural and medical sciences and in the social sciences and humanities,” said Vincent Larivière, a professor in Montreal's School of Library and Information Science, who led the study. “Furthermore, these large commercial publishers have huge sales, with profit margins of nearly 40 percent. While it is true that publishers have historically played a vital role in the dissemination of scientific knowledge in the print era, it is questionable whether they are still necessary in today's digital era.”

John Tagler, vice president and executive director for professional and scholarly publishing at the Association of American Publishers, had this response, via email: “The forces of consolidation are not unique to the scholarly publishing industry,” he said. “In an era of globalization and large-scale technological implementations, there are benefits to spreading infrastructure investment and maintenance across a broad spectrum of products. In digital publishing this has resulted in a diverse market of providers and faster and more robust delivery of information to readers.”

Thursday, June 11, 2015 - 3:00am

Tim Hunt, a British biochemist who shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in Medicine, on Wednesday quit his job as a professor at University College London amid criticism over his comments on women.

The university issued a statement confirming his resignation. “UCL was the first university in England to admit women students on equal terms to men, and the university believes that this outcome is compatible with our commitment to gender equality,” said the statement.

Hunt has apologized for comments he made about women in science, Times Higher Education reported. In remarks at an event in South Korea before the meeting of the World Conference of Science Journalists, he said: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab -- you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticize them, they cry…. I’m in favor of single-sex labs.”

In a radio interview, Hunt said he was sorry for any offense he caused. But he also said that he was “trying to be honest,” explaining, “I mean, it is true that I have fallen in love with people in the lab and that people in the lab have fallen in love with me. It's very disruptive to science.”

Thursday, June 11, 2015 - 3:00am

Most people agree that faculty performance evaluations should be based on more than student feedback, grants and publication counts. But what does a more complete evaluation process look like? And how would a more progressive department function? The New American Colleges and Universities’ answer is Redefining the Paradigm: Faculty Models to Support Student Learning. The new monograph is based on new faculty evaluation models at NAC&U member institutions, and pushes other colleges and universities to rethink traditional department structures and processes to better support student learning. The monograph promotes the development of “holistic departments” that reject the arguably outdated scholarship-teaching-service faculty evaluation model in favor of processes that are more fluid and responsive to the changing faculty role and departmentwide needs. It also promotes active learning, in which professors are not “sages on the stage” but rather guides in research and other experiential learning.

The Teagle Foundation supported the project. Judith Shapiro, Teagle Foundation president and former president of Barnard College, recently wrote about the benefits of a redefined faculty paradigm here. Representatives from the Sage Colleges and Valparaiso University talked about their involvement with the project at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. “One of the big issues here is to relook at teaching, scholarship and service and the collapsing boundaries between the three,” David Salomon, co-editor of the monograph and a professor of English and director of undergraduate research at the Sage Colleges, said at the time. “In a holistic department, someone might pick up more service, and we want to make sure we account for that in the evaluation, as well.”

Thursday, June 11, 2015 - 3:00am

Inside Higher Ed is pleased to release today “Evolving Learning for the New Digital Era,” our latest print-on-demand booklet. Articles focus on changing methods of teaching and learning -- and the strategies used by different institutions. You may download the free booklet here. And you may sign up here for a free webinar on the booklet's themes, to be held Wednesday, July 8, at 2 p.m. Eastern.

Thursday, June 11, 2015 - 3:00am

James Billington announced Wednesday that he will retire at the end of the year as librarian of Congress. A scholar of Russia, Billington was nominated for the position (which doesn't have a term of office) by President Reagan and has served since 1987. The New York Times noted that the Library of Congress has in recent years been the subject of several highly critical government audits of its management and of its use of technology.

Thursday, June 11, 2015 - 3:00am

A U.S. Senate appropriations subcommittee approved legislation Wednesday that would keep funding for the National Science Foundation in the 2016 fiscal year at its 2015 level. The measure, backed by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, would provide $7.3 billion for the NSF, less than the $7.7 billion President Obama requested and $50 million less than the bill approved last month by the House Appropriations Committee. The Senate bill would provide $5.93 billion for NSF research and research facilities, and $866 million for the foundation's education programs.


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