Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 23, 2009

The University of Utah stages an ancient Greek play each year, and typically offers a performance at Brigham Young University as well. This year, there will be no performance at Brigham Young. The university's theater department called off the production of a modern adaptation of Bakkhai by Euripides (commonly spelled as Bacchae). Rodger Sorensen, chair of theater and media arts at BYU, said that as an institution that is part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the university "must take into consideration our particular audience." As he learned more about the production, he said, he became concerned that audience members would be "troubled" by the production. While there is not nudity, Sorensen said that the costumes show "more skin than our institution encourages us to have" visible and that there are portrayals of sexuality and violence. "We have no problem with the play, but feel it shouldn't be done here," he said.

James Svendsen, producer of the play and associate professor of languages and literature at Utah, said that the decision to call off the show at Brigham Young was mutual, and based in part on the view that the production "does not really fit the BYU proscenium arch theater nor their audience." He said that the production turns the classic work into a rock opera, with "much gender-bending in the casting" and "an abundance of phallic symbols and cleavage." Svendsen said some shock was appropriate for the play. "Yes, this ancient play is shocking, horrific and macabre and, I think, would have shocked the ancient Athenian audience," he said. "For me it's a parable for the Athenians in crisis, stuck in a 25 year old war against the Spartans, a parable against religious and political excess and a kind of insanity or tunnel vision. It's a play with an attitude."

While the production won't get to win fans in Provo, it received a strong review in The Salt Lake Tribune.

September 23, 2009

An outside panel is investigating the board of the Maricopa Community Colleges, following anonymous allegations sent to its accreditor about alleged micromanaging, The Arizona Republic reported. The complaint charged that the board makes decisions without adequately consulting the educators charged with daily management of the colleges. The outside committee has held individual meetings with board members and administrators and will also hold a public meeting.

September 23, 2009

Education Management Corp., which three years ago went private in a sale to private equity investors, plans to re-enter the public markets by selling 20 million shares of stock in a bid to raise approximately $350 million, the higher education company announced Tuesday. Education Management, which operates Argosy University and the Art Institutes, among other career-oriented colleges, was purchased in 2006 by two private equity firms for $3.4 billion, one of numerous for-profit college entities making such a move. Education Management has significant debt, and the initial public offering announced this week is seen as a way to retire some of that debt and tap into a market for higher education companies that is heating up.

September 23, 2009

Two-thirds of full-time M.B.A. programs received more applications in 2009 than in the previous year, according to survey results released Tuesday by the Graduate Management Admission Council. But more than half of part-time or executive programs reported that application levels were decreasing or were flat. The latter programs have been hurt at some business schools by the inability of businesses to pay for degrees for employees.

September 23, 2009

The U.S. Department of State on Tuesday proposed a set of regulatory changes in its Exchange Visitor program, which brings scholars, students and others to the United States for educational purposes. The proposed rules, which were published in the Federal Register and are open to public comment through November 23, amends the "general provisions" portion of federal regulations governing various visa programs for educational exchanges. Officials at NAFSA: Association of International Educators said they were reviewing the proposed regulations and would comment on them soon.

September 23, 2009

With protests planned for Thursday's lecture at Purdue University by William Ayers, the university has imposed limits on who may attend the talk, The Journal and Courier reported. The university will give seats first to student in fields that relate to Ayers' work -- sociology, women's studies, African-American studies, education and child development. Remaining seats will go to those in anthropology, philosophy, political science, communication, history, psychological sciences, foreign languages and literatures and English. University identification cards will be checked at the door. Ayers, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, lectures widely on education reform issues, but some of his campus appearances have been controversial due to his role as a leader of the Weather Underground in the 60s.

September 23, 2009

The State University of New York at Potsdam on Tuesday joined a growing number of colleges ending requirements that all applicants submit SAT or ACT scores, but the announcement was also part of a broader shift in admissions policy. Potsdam has evaluated applicants on a formula based only on test scores and high school grades. Under the new approach, the university will look at a broad range of factors -- including recommendations, essays, the rigor of courses taken -- in addition to grades and (for those who want to submit them) test scores. A statement from Tom Nesbitt, director of admissions, said: “Our research has shown that high school students who have taken a rigorous curriculum, regardless of test scores, have been some of our most successful at SUNY Potsdam."

September 22, 2009

A Brandeis University committee has recommended that the university keep the Rose Museum of Art open to the public, but the panel didn't take a position on whether its prized modern art collection should be maintained or sold, The Boston Globe reported. Brandeis infuriated arts scholars nationwide with a plan -- now on hold -- to shut the museum and sell the collection, which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The university said that it needed the funds for other academic purposes. The committee's report will be released officially today; it calls for better integration of the art museum with the university's academic departments.

September 22, 2009

With the economic downturn threatening the viability of some university presses, any "review" of a publishing house is likely to crank up the jitters. Perhaps with that in mind, Northwestern University went out of its way to announce Monday that the university has "reaffirmed its commitment to publishing and disseminating scholarly writing," and that it will conduct a national search to hire a new full-time director of the Northwestern University Press. But while the review solidified Northwestern's commitment to a sustained role in scholarly publishing, it also reinforced that changes are coming to its press, as to the publishing industry overall. Beginning next year, the university announced, the press will make its primary journal, TriQuarterly, available only electronically. “This move will align publishing efforts more closely with the university’s academic enterprise while at the same time expanding electronic dissemination and public access to the wonderful literature and essays that are published in TriQuarterly,” said Sarah Pritchard, the Charles Deering McCormick University Librarian. “Scholarly publishing is increasingly moving to open access, allowing greater distribution of academic work. This reflects that trend and allows the journal editors to take advantage of the multimedia capabilities offered through online publishing.”

September 22, 2009

Jill Landesberg-Boyle has agreed to go on leave, ending her controversial term as president of Florida Keys Community College, The Miami Herald reported. While Landesberg-Boyle was praised by some at the college for academic improvements, many employees charged her with creating a destructive work environment. Until her contract ends on June 15, she will keep her salary and benefits package of $157,000 a year.

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