Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, March 30, 2015 - 3:00am

Seven people were shot at a spring break party in Panama Beach City, Fla., USA Today reported. Three were injured critically and remain hospitalized. Authorities said that three of the seven shot were students at Alabama A&M University, but that the students were innocent bystanders.


Monday, March 30, 2015 - 3:00am

An American, Curt Rice (right), was last week named rector of Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. Rice is the first non-Norwegian selected to lead a Norwegian university. Rice has been an administrator and faculty member at the University of Tromso, in Norway, and has been active in efforts to recruit women into academe, particularly in science fields. Among those saluting his most recent success is Augsburg College, his alma mater, which was founded by Norwegian Lutherans.

Rice has published in the University of Venus blog on Inside Higher Ed (see here and here and here), and also has contributed essays to Inside Higher Ed.


Monday, March 30, 2015 - 3:00am

Taiwan's Ministry of Education has warned universities that they need to prepare for shrinking enrollments due to falling birth rates in the country, The Taipei Times reported. The ministry is working on plans to merge or close universities, predicting that 12 of the 51 public universities in the nation and 20 to 40 of the 101 private universities will be merged or closed by 2023.


Monday, March 30, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Kim Janda, a professor of chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute, discusses a vaccine that might help counteract addiction. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Friday, March 27, 2015 - 3:00am

Twenty-plus faculty members and alumnae of Sweet Briar College announced Thursday that they want to keep the institution alive but shift its focus to science, mathematics and technology. The plan would have the college focus on STEM, with seven majors in those fields. The college would remain a women's institution and thus become the only one to focus on STEM. Students would earn a bachelor of arts degree in three years, during which they would also take general education courses and have internships. The plan would require a $62 million investment and an entering class of 120 students.

A college spokeswoman said that the board was committed to hearing out groups with ideas about the college's future and would meet with backers of this plan next month.

Friday, March 27, 2015 - 4:34am

A black woman who is a student at Duke University reported to officials there that last weekend a group of while male students taunted her with the racist chant used by a University of Oklahoma fraternity. That accusation has led to a larger debate at Duke. A group called the People of Color Caucus issued an online statement that said that the chant was not an "isolated incident" but part of a pattern of racist incidents at Duke and elsewhere. A hashtag -- #whatweneedfromduke -- has become a forum for people to share thoughts on these issues, while others have been putting up posters (at right) on what they believe the university needs to do.

Duke President Richard H. Brodhead and Provost Sally Kornbluth issued a joint statement Thursday in which they said that the reported incident with the racist chant was being investigated. Their statement said in part: "In the face of this situation both nationally and close to home, we want to underline Duke’s fundamental values. Inclusivity and mutual respect are core values for any civil society, but they have a special meaning in a university. Thinking in stereotypes is a failure of intelligence. Education begins the day we learn to pass beyond crude and distorting simplifications. Further, a university is based on the premise that we are all here to learn from each other, which requires a broad measure of inclusion and openness to others’ experience and points of view."



Friday, March 27, 2015 - 3:00am

The National Association of College Bookstores on Tuesday filed a lawsuit to obtain Purdue University's contract with Amazon, after a public records request produced a redacted copy, The Indianapolis Star reported. Purdue in August announced a partnership with the retailer to give students expedited shipping options and a physical location on campus to pick up and drop off orders. The university claims the redacted parts of the contract are trade secrets, which are not covered by open records laws in Indiana.

Friday, March 27, 2015 - 4:26am

A private investigator -- whose client has not been identified -- is looking into critics of New York University's Abu Dhabi campus, The New York Times reported. Among the targets: Andrew Ross, an N.Y.U. professor who has been an outspoken critic of the campus, and a New York Times reporter who has written critically of it. A spokesman for the university said that it had no knowledge about the investigator, but that "it’s reprehensible and offensive on its face, and we call on whoever is involved to desist immediately.”

Friday, March 27, 2015 - 3:00am

The U.S. Department of Education needs to do a better job of managing the federal grant program for teachers, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.

The TEACH Grant program provides up to $4,000 a year for students who commit to teaching low-income school districts for at least four out of eight years after graduation.

Recipients who don’t follow through on that commitment have their grants converted into loans. About 36,000 of the TEACH Grant’s more than 112,000 recipients have fallen into that category, the G.A.O. found.

In some cases, though, those conversions were the result of the government's or its contractors’ error.

G.A.O. investigators found that between August 2013 and September 2014, 2,252 TEACH Grant recipients had their grants erroneously converted into loans by the company hired by the Education Department to manage the program.

The department said that it mostly agreed with the G.A.O.’s recommendations, which included establishing performance measures for the program and studying why so many TEACH Grant recipients fail to fulfill their service commitment.

Friday, March 27, 2015 - 3:00am

Thousands of University of Wisconsin System advocates put together 12,000 pages of petition signatures and public comments that were submitted to a legislative finance committee considering massive cuts to the system, a group of system supporters said Thursday. The outpouring is just the latest sign of opposition to cuts proposed by Governor Scott Walker, a Republican with presidential ambitions. Walker proposed cutting the system's budget by $300 million over the next two years. The head of the university system, Ray Cross, has said he would resign if he cannot do something to reduce the size of the cuts.


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