Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 3, 2010

A number of for-profit colleges are recruiting in homeless shelters, helping people there apply for federal grants and loans -- loans that they will be unlikely to repay when many them never advance far in their programs, Business Week reported. The article notes that these students are among those sending for-profit enrollments skyrocketing, with large shares of the costs (and the institutions' revenue) coming from federal funds.

May 3, 2010

The Rev. John J. Myers, archbishop of Newark, has called on Seton Hall University to reconsider a course planned for the fall on issues related to gay marriage, The Star-Ledger reported. Archbishop Myers said he objected to a course that suggested as "legitimate" the idea that marriage is not only for couples that consist of one man and one woman. The archbishop is chair of the university's board. University officials said that the course was approved as one that would explore a variety of views, including those of the Roman Catholic Church.

May 3, 2010

Thousands of education researchers convened Friday in Denver for the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Those who scan the blogs or pay attention to leaflets outside near the convention hotels may have learned of another gathering to talk education policy -- but this conclave took place in a restaurant and featured perspectives to the right of many of those at the AERA. Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute was the co-host and promoted the event by poking fun at some AERA papers' titles, noting in his blog that he offers a special award for AERA paper titles that use the word "epistemic" twice. The event featured various discussions about education and was designed to bring together wonks, scholars and journalists. Via e-mail, Hess said it was "really a chance to connect with folks for conversation, as I find AERA's panels and presentations a lousy use of time but do want to connect with a bunch of friends and colleagues to catch up and talk shop."

Of course, as Hess noted, he was named several years ago to the AERA annual meeting program committee so he is technically "in the damn conference leadership." Further, he's on the program, on a panel on "market-based reform efforts within state and federal educational policies." He said that the AERA's leaders have been welcoming. "It's more the culture of the membership that's inhospitable, and which deters most of the folks in my intellectual circle from sliding into town," he said.

May 3, 2010

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Minnesota Republican, last week vetoed a bill that would have required the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to create a five-year plan to help students transfer credits from community colleges to universities, and to better inform community college students about which course credits transfer, The St. Cloud Times reported. The governor said that the system was already working on the issue so that legislation was not necessary.

May 3, 2010

Female students at the University of Maine at Farmington marched topless Friday to draw attention to their legal right in the state to appear that way and to try to adjust public attitudes so that doing so would not offend people, The Bangor Daily News reported. Judging from the reaction, they have a ways to go. Some critics are calling on university officials to better educate students about why women shouldn't appear topless. One local critic carried a blanket along the march route, trying to block views of the female students' breasts.

April 30, 2010

The University of Arizona's president said Thursday that the institution is losing some top students because of the state's new immigration law, a law many view as encouraging ethnic profiling and other forms of discrimination against Latinos. President Robert E. Shelton released a letter in which he said: "We have already begun to feel an impact from SB1070. The families of a number of out-of-state students (to date all of them honors students) have told us that they are changing their plans and will be sending their children to universities in other states. This should sadden anyone who cares about attracting the best and brightest students to Arizona." A spokesman for Arizona State University said that institution has received "several phone calls of applicants saying they won't come now."

April 30, 2010

The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges on Thursday announced that it is creating a search consulting business, focusing on presidents and other top officials of colleges. AGB Search, as it will be called, will launch this summer. AGB also announced that James Ferrare will become senior vice president and managing principal of AGB Search. Ferrare is a senior consultant at Academic Search, one of the leading search firms focused on the college president market. Academic Search describes itself as having been founded by "the presidential and trustee-based associations" representing colleges.

April 30, 2010

At the Florida Institute of Technology’s newest fraternity, you don’t rush -- you log in. Theta Omega Gamma, created this year by a sophomore, Darrek Battle, exists exclusively online, serving a membership of 24 fully online students. According to Battle and the faculty adviser Vicky Knerly, that’s a first. “When I started school I was thinking 'Are there any fraternities out there accepting online students?' and I couldn’t find any,” Battle told Inside Higher Ed. So, he started his own. Theta Omega Gamma serves all the functions of a normal fraternity, Knerly says -- “except for going out together and drinking.” But that is not Theta’s m.o. anyway; it is a service fraternity, not a Greek fraternity. And even if its members -- which include men and women -- cannot convene for service projects, they can coordinate, through chat room meet-ups, efforts to volunteer for national charitable organizations in their own communities. As for the social side, Battle says he is trying to generate interest in helping online students at other institutions build their own chapters. And he is still working on figuring out how to simulate the camaraderie of a normal fraternity in an online environment. “It’s been kind of hard to come up with ideas like that,” he says. “So I think for now we’re just going to go with the flow.”

April 30, 2010

The Young Conservatives of Texas are protesting a sculpture, "Tornado of Ideas," that they say disrespects many on the campus. The sculpture features many parts and many images -- some of which are visible on this Facebook page organized by those criticizing the work. The Young Conservatives of Texas have specifically cited parts of the sculpture that portray the Texas Tech mascot, the Masked Rider, using a javelin to (the conservatives believe) sodomize a police officer and that show two lesbians sitting together. Joe Arredondo, chairman of the the university's public art committee, said he was surprised by the protest because the sculpture has been on campus since 2004. "I guess they finally got angry," he said. Arredondo said he wasn't sure he would agree with the way the students have characterized the various images. "As with any great artwork, it's subject to all kinds of interpretation," he said. As for students protesting the sculpture, he said he wasn't bothered. "This is a work about ideas," he said.

April 29, 2010

Zafra Lerman, a longtime chemistry professor at Columbia College Chicago, is suing the college, charging that she lost her job in retaliation for her defense of another faculty member and because she is Jewish, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Lerman has been an outspoken defender of faculty rights and a critic of administrators at the college, resulting in numerous disputes in which the administration has denied violating her rights.

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