Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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.

September 22, 2009

Spanish officials have barred a team from Ariel College, an Israeli college located in occupied land on the West Bank, from participating in an international competition among university student teams to build a solar-powered house, Israel News reported. Ariel's team had reached the finalist round, but a statement from the contest organizers said it could not continue. "The decision was made by the Spanish government based on the fact that the university is located in occupied territory in the West Bank. The Spanish government is committed to uphold the international agreement under the framework of the European Union and the United Nations regarding this geographical area," said the statement. Ariel responded by saying: "We scornfully reject the one-sided announcement we received from the Spanish Housing Ministry. The anti-academic decision harms 10,000 students in the university center, including 500 Arab students who study at the institution, in particular the Jewish and Arab students studying together in the school of architecture."

September 22, 2009

An American college administrator who happened to pick up a daily newspaper in Britain on Monday could have been forgiven for doing a double take to see whether he or she was back home. The British press was filled with news likely to resonate with anyone who has been following policy discussions about higher education in the U.S. in recent months. First, a group of business leaders published a report Monday arguing that, because of the economic downturn, the British government should temporarily abandon its goal of trying to enroll at least 50 percent of the country's 18-30-year-olds in higher education -- a goal much like the one President Obama has set for the U.S. The report, by the higher education task force of the Conferation of British Industry, also recommends that the government end its subsidy on student loans while students are in school, which is similar to a proposal made last year by a panel of student aid experts convened by the College Board. On Sunday, meanwhile, the Times of London reported that some British universities are planning to cut the number of British citizens they admit and replace them with students from other countries who pay higher tuitions -- not unlike a strategy that many state institutions in the United States typically undertake when short on funds.

September 22, 2009

The Carnegie Corporation of New York is honoring four college presidents with "academic leadership" grants of $500,000 each to support academic initiatives at their institutions. The winners are: Leon Botstein of Bard College, Scott Cowen of Tulane University, Amy Gutmann of the University of Pennsylvania, and William E. Kirwan of the University System of Maryland.

September 21, 2009

The board of Florida Keys Community College will meet today and may fire Jill Landesberg-Boyle as president, The Miami Herald reported. The board has already restricted her ability to fire anyone. In two years in office, she has won praise from many -- and appears to have strong backing from current faculty members -- for improving academic programs, finding additional funds for projects and beautifying the campus. But her critics say she is verbally abusive, fires employees unfairly and has created a "toxic" environment. Landesberg-Boyle has admitted to having a "potty mouth," but has defended her agenda, and her supporters note that she has faced anonymous critics ever since starting to institute some reforms.

September 21, 2009

Looking to broaden H1N1 awareness on campuses, two U.S. cabinet members and a researcher from the Centers for Disease Control hosted a Friday afternoon conference call for college newspaper reporters and editors. Arne Duncan, secretary of education, and Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, outlined the guidance their departments released last month on how higher education should prevent and handle outbreaks. Sebelius said vaccine distribution to colleges and universities in October. Until then, she told the student journalists, “you really have a great bully pulpit to spread the word” about how to deal with the virus.

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