Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 15, 2016

About a third of colleges and universities will delay payroll changes after an injunction last month blocked the implementation of a new federal overtime rule, according to a survey by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.

A U.S. District Court judge in Texas issued the injunction just days before the rule was scheduled to go into effect. The Department of Labor regulation would have raised the threshold under which employees must receive overtime pay to $47,476 from $23,660.

Although the final rule included a teaching exemption, it was criticized by higher ed groups including the American Council on Education. The injunction came after many institutions had already taken steps to come into compliance with the new rule.

The CUPA-HR survey found that of 495 responding institutions, 32 percent would now delay making any changes to implement the rule, while another 32 percent would implement some changes and delay others. Meanwhile, 28 percent of colleges and universities surveyed said they would go ahead with planned changes, and 8 percent said they planned to reverse some changes already made.

December 15, 2016

Today on the Academic Minute, Adam Blackler, assistant professor of history at Black Hills State University, says Germany’s actions in Africa need to be recognized as genocide, too. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

December 14, 2016

The professor of psychology who was secretly videotaped talking about Donald Trump has left the state of California following a series of physical threats, The Orange County Register reported. Hundreds of people demonstrated at Orange Coast College for and against Olga Perez Stable Cox, the professor, this week, as her faculty union said her classes will be covered by someone else through the end of the semester. “Someone emailed her a picture of her house, with her address,” Rob Schneiderman, president of the campus's faculty union affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, told the Register. Another email read, “You want communism, go to Cuba … try to bring it to America and we’ll put a [expletive] bullet in your face,” the newspaper reported.

A videotape of Cox saying in her human sexuality class after the election that Trump’s victory was an “act of terrorism” was shared on the campus’s College Republicans’ Facebook page last week and promptly went viral. Cox did not respond to a request for comment, but Schneiderman has said she was answering a question from a student. The context of Cox’s comments is not clear from the video itself. Two students in Cox’s class told the Register this week that Cox also asked students who voted for Trump to identify themselves. “She tried to get everyone who voted for Donald Trump to stand up and show the rest of the class who to watch out for and protect yourself from,” said student Tanner Webb. Schneiderman disputed the account, saying that Cox told the class some people would be happy with the election results, and asked students to stand up if they wished, after one student did so without prompting.

Shawn Steel, a Republican National Committee member from California and an attorney who is representing the Orange Coast College Republicans, has previously said he wanted Cox to apologize but now says singling out Trump supporters is grounds for possible dismissal. “That’s a deal breaker for me,” he told the Register. The college is investigating the matter.

December 14, 2016

In a worldwide comparison of years of education, by religion, Jews emerged as the most educated group by far, in new research from the Pew Research Center. Jews have 13.4 years of formal schooling, on average, followed by Christians, at 9.3 years.

Another notable finding was that the most highly educated religious groups have the smallest gap (or, in the case of Jews, no gap) between the average years of formal schooling of men and women.

Details of the study may be found here.

December 14, 2016

Hundreds of historians have issued a joint statement on the need to be vigilant about civil liberties.

"As scholars of United States history and related fields, we have experienced concern and alarm as we went from a divisive campaign season to the election of Donald Trump as our president-elect. On the eve of a new administration whose key players have traded in hateful rhetoric and emboldened the harassment of various targets, we urge Americans to be vigilant against a mass violation of civil rights and liberties that could result if such troubling developments continue unchecked," says the statement. "Looking back on World War II and the Cold War, we recognize how easily the rights of people have been suspended during times of great uncertainty. A key lesson of such ordeals has been to never again repeat these mistakes, and so we issue a call to recognize and act upon the critical links between historical knowledge, informed citizenship and the protection of civil and human rights."

The full statement may be found here.

December 14, 2016

Pearson on Tuesday released a list of 45 learning design principles under a Creative Commons license, giving away access to previously proprietary information about how the education company designs its products. In a press release, Pearson said it hopes the release will help other developers create more effective learning tools. The principles cover topics such as critical thinking, peer tutoring and universal design, among others.

December 14, 2016

Indiana authorities have filed a misdemeanor battery charge against Sean Woods, men's basketball coach at Morehead State University, in Kentucky, after two of his players said he assaulted them during a game at the University of Evansville, The Herald-Leader reported. The university suspended Woods last month, but did not cite specifics.

December 14, 2016

The appointment of Michel Deneken, a Roman Catholic priest and theology professor, to lead the University of Strasbourg has attracted controversy among some who argue that the choice violates the spirit, if not the letter, of French laws calling for separation of church and state, France 24 reported.

The public university in eastern France announced the election of Deneken as its new president on Tuesday. In a vote by the university's Council of Directors, Deneken -- the interim president since September -- received 26 votes while his opponent received nine.

The France 24 article published prior to his election quoted both the SNESUP higher education union and the UNEF national students' union expressing concerns about the selection of a priest for Strasbourg's presidency, with the latter group saying, “The appointment of someone who owes allegiance to both the state and the Vatican will not be good for the image of the university.”

Deneken said his status as a priest should not prevent him from assuming the presidency. “I’ve been vice president of the university for eight years, and interim president since September,” France 24 quoted him as saying. “Each individual has his own beliefs and convictions, and universities are places where matters of faith should never interfere with teaching or research, and should always respect the laws of the republic and the ethics of education.”

December 14, 2016

Today on the Academic Minute, Charles Bourque, professor of neurosurgery at McGill University, details why you might want to be hydrated before zonking out for the night. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

December 13, 2016

This is the second year of the #IHEreaderschoice award for the best book published by a scholarly publisher that would make a great holiday gift for an academic. More entries this year than last year were books about higher education, and some on social media suggested that such a book should win. Our voters pushed three books about higher education into the final five, but the winner was not among them.

The winner is Exquisite Masochism: Marriage, Sex and the Novel Form, by Claire Jarvis, an assistant professor of English at Stanford University, and published by Johns Hopkins University Press. The book is about how realist novelists in the 19th and early 20th centuries would "hint at sex while maintaining a safe distance from pornography."

This is the second year in a row that a Hopkins book won the prize. Last year's winner was The Poems of T. S. Eliot, edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue.

Five of those who voted for Exquisite Masochism will receive a free copy of the book, courtesy of Inside Higher Ed.

The runners-up, in order of votes received, are:

Inside Higher Ed congratulates all the authors and publishers and all the books nominated. We encourage you to use the #IHEreaderschoice hashtag to find great gift ideas for all the academics on your gift list.

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