Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, November 23, 2015 - 3:00am

Thirty-two Americans were on Saturday named winners of Rhodes Scholarships, which provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford. Students at Harvard University, one of the elite universities that typically dominate the Rhodes competition, won five of the scholarships, more than those of any other college this year. But this year's winners also included one student each from two institutions that have never previously had a Rhodes Scholar: Northeastern University and Youngstown State University. Brief profiles of the winners may be found here.

Monday, November 23, 2015 - 3:00am

State Representative John Bel Edwards (at right), a Democrat, on Saturday defeated U.S. Senator David Vitter, a Republican, in the Louisiana governor's race. Edwards has vowed to end a series of deep cuts the state has imposed on Louisiana's public colleges under Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican. Edwards has also pledged to end "cuts and closure" discussions about solving the state's budget problems by closing or merging a public colleges, and to improve what he has called an "inferior" retirement system for faculty members. The Edwards higher education plan may be found here.

Monday, November 23, 2015 - 3:00am

Many academics are signing a petition and sharing their concerns about the future of Ashgate Publishing, which was purchased by Informa (the parent company of Taylor & Francis). Both Ashgate and Taylor & Francis publish scholarly books and are seen as important venues for professors' work. The petition appeals to Informa to stop a planned closure of an Ashgate office in the United States, and rumored closings of an office in Britain.

"Independent academic presses like Ashgate have offered a safe haven for scholars working in certain subfields as university presses closed entire publishing specializations and fired editorial staff in response to campus austerity measures," says the petition. Representatives of Informa and Taylor & Francis did not respond to email messages seeking a response.

Monday, November 23, 2015 - 3:00am

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa was facing considerable criticism this weekend after The Ottawa Sun reported that the organization called off free yoga classes because of fear that yoga is a form of "cultural appropriation." An email from an official with the federation's center for students with disabilities to the yoga instructor who was told she was not needed this semester said that "yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced," and which cultures those practices "are being taken from." The email added that because those cultures "have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and Western supremacy … we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practicing yoga."

Two vice presidents of the federation, reached by Inside Higher Ed Sunday evening, said the issue of cultural appropriation was one of several factors at play in putting yoga "on hold" this semester, and that it could return next semester, after a review of all of the issues, including but not limited to cultural appropriation.

Monday, November 23, 2015 - 3:00am

A federal jury last week found James Doran, formerly a professor at Florida State University, guilty of embezzling $650,000 from the institution, the Associated Press reported. Doran was charged with taking money from a fund designed to let business students make real investments. He was alleged to have returned the money when an audit discovered what happened. His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Monday, November 23, 2015 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Matthew Osborne, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Toronto, delves into the how and why of cell phone bill shock. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, November 20, 2015 - 3:00am

Two-thirds of college freshmen who applied for federal student loans or grants last year indicated that they were applying to only one institution, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday.

Sixty-eight percent of freshmen filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid during the 2014-15 academic year instructed the Education Department to send their information to only one college, the department said. That’s down from 80 percent in the 2008-09 school year.

The Obama administration called the new data “troubling.”

“By focusing on only one school, students run the risk of being turned down for admission or losing out on better financial aid and educational opportunities from another school, with ramifications that can last a lifetime,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement.

Friday, November 20, 2015 - 3:00am

Student activism has stymied a university's plans to sell "pouring rights" to a soda company. San Francisco State University had planned to sell the right to be the main soda vendor on campus to the highest bidder. The practice is common among colleges and businesses.

The country's two major soda brands, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, were both competing for the deal. But students have protested the university's plans, even showing up outside at a meeting of university and Coca-Cola officials last month waving signs reading "student rights, not pouring rights," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Activists objected to the college supporting, though pouring rights and lucrative advertising deals at university sports venues (that would have been bundled with the pouring rights), sugary drink manufacturers, with many students highlighting how soda is widely seen as an unhealthy beverage contributing to obesity.

President Les Wong announced Thursday that San Francisco State no longer plans to sell pouring rights to a beverage company, largely due to student activism.

"After listening carefully to the concerns and information I received from our students, faculty and staff, I have decided not to move forward with the process of establishing a partnership with a beverage company," Wong said in a statement. "This decision will mean the loss of potential funding for student programs, scholarships and athletics. I remain committed to finding ways to generate additional financial support for our students and programs, and I hope that students will join me in this effort."

Friday, November 20, 2015 - 3:00am

The nation's largest regional accreditor is giving colleges more time to meet an updated requirement on dual enrollment instructors. ashley: QTs use Upper Case Headlines Like This, because that's what actually appears on the site. dl. AS.

The Higher Learning Commission's Board of Trustees voted this month to give institutions and state higher education boards more time to come into compliance with its mandate requiring high school teachers in dual-credit courses to have a master's degree or at least 18 graduate-level credit hours, in the specialty they're teaching. can you be a little more specific. first sentence of this paragraph says almost exactly what the first sentence of the item says, without really adding any new information. maybe say "to request extensions to come into compliance with its mandate requiring high-school teachers in dual-credit courses to have a master's degree, or at least 18 graduate-level credit hours, in the specialty they're teaching."? dl. Fixed. -ASHLC issued a policy clarification earlier this year. also, move the link to the october story up higher, for readers who want to go deeper (and sooner)? dl. AS

"If a college or university believes its dual-credit program is not able to be in compliance by Sept. 1, 2017, it may submit an application for an extension by September 2016. A state higher education entity may also apply for the extension on behalf of accredited colleges and universities under its jurisdiction. A review panel will evaluate all applications. Approved applications will be granted an extension of up to September 2022 based on the circumstances presented in the application," said John Hausaman, a public information officer for the commission, in an email. 

The extension is only for dual-credit programs, but is in effect for all other college and university programs. HLC covers a 19-state Midwestern area. Minnesota and Indiana have widespread dual-enrollment programs. Lawmakers, high schools, students and colleges in those states worried the clarification would negatively affect those programs. 

Friday, November 20, 2015 - 3:00am

Federal funding for university research and development in 2014 fell by 3.9 percent from the year before, with about two-thirds of that decrease attributable to the phaseout of federal stimulus funds, the National Science Foundation reported this week. Over all, research expenditures by American universities actually rose 0.2 percent in 2014, with most of that increase driven by an increase in spending by the institutions themselves, plus very modest increases in support from state governments and businesses.

Since the 2011 fiscal year, the proportion of total university R&D spending that is supported by federal funds has dropped from 62.5 percent to 56.5 percent; the latter is the lowest point since the NSF survey began in 1972.


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