How one gauges the scope and extent of the problem the United States has with postsecondary attainment and crafts possible solutions depends in large part on the data used to assess the situation, argues a report being released at an event in Washington today. The report, funded by the National Science Foundation and produced by American Institutes for Research and George Washington University's Graduate School of Education and Human Development, examines how different data sources offer divergent answers to fundamental questions, such as the rate at which four-year college students earn bachelor's degrees and how big gender and racial attainment gaps are. (Note: Inside Higher Ed's Doug Lederman moderated a panel discussion at Monday's event.)
Higher Education Quick Takes
University of Akron alumni and students are organizing a petition and other efforts designed to preserve the institution's name. No name change has been officially proposed, but Akron supporters are alarmed by reports that a rebranding effort could lead to the institution being called Ohio Polytechnic Institute, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported.
Swarthmore College's board announced Saturday that the college will not sell holdings in companies in the fossil fuel industry, a move sought by a long student sit-in and endorsed by many other students and faculty members. An email to the campus from Gil Kemp, chair of the board, said that "the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College reached consensus not to divest from fossil fuels. The sense of the meeting was to reaffirm its investment guidelines, which since 1991 have stated that the 'Investment Committee manages the endowment to yield the best long-term financial results, rather than to pursue other social objectives.'"
The email did note that the college has undertaken numerous projects to become more sustainable, and that the college will create a fund that does not invest in fossil fuels. This will allow alumni and others to donate to the college without having any of those funds invested in fossil fuels.
Swarthmore Mountain Justice, the student group that led the divestment campaign and held a 32-day sit-in and numerous protests this academic year, issued a statement criticizing the board's decision. "Swarthmore risks being left behind and remembered in history for its failure to take leadership at this critical moment. This crisis is real, in the here and now. Lives are at stake. Our generation’s future is at stake," said the statement.
A New York State labor board has ruled that part-time faculty members at Cayuga Community College have the right to bargain collectively as their own unit, The Auburn Citizen reported. College officials had argued that the part-timers could unionize only as part of the union of full-time faculty members, but the part-timers wanted their own unit.
Leaders in Singapore are trying to discourage students from enrolling at universities, Bloomberg reported. Speeches by government leaders and articles in local newspapers focus on the value of apprenticeships, and how people can earn a lot of money without a university degree. While Singapore has invested considerably in its universities, officials fear a worker shortage in many industries. The article notes that many parents seem to remain intent on their children earning a degree.
While there has been no official announcement, President Obama has selected the University of Chicago as the host of his presidential library, The Chicago Tribune and USA Today reported. Their reports followed other news reports that President Obama has picked a location in Chicago, but not necessarily one of those proposed by the University of Chicago. The University of Chicago has been the favorite from the start of the competition -- the Obamas lived in its neighborhood before he was elected president and both the president and first lady once worked at the university. But zoning disputes for a time appeared to be a major obstacle, leading to speculation that the library could end up at Columbia University.
Evan Dobelle has agreed to pay $185,000 to settle claims of inappropriate spending while he was president of Westfield State University, The Berkshire Eagle reported. Dobelle has previously denied wrongdoing and sued the university. As part of the settlement, he has agreed to drop that suit. He left the presidency amid reports about billing the university for expensive travel, the purpose of which was questioned by many on campus. Another part of the settlement: Dobelle is barred from working at colleges and universities in Massachusetts.
Rudolph Giuliani remains the planned graduation speaker at St. John Fisher College, despite faculty opposition to the invitation, The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported. Dozens of faculty members signed a letter saying that the invitation was inappropriate. "Given the college's mission, which places education in the service of 'intellectual inquiry, professional integrity and civic responsibility,' those of us delivering on these goals in our classrooms are struggling to understand how the board could offer this great honor to a political figure who has recently shown himself to be inflammatory and divisive in his commentary. His recent public arguments do not unite, inspire or challenge us to be our best community. Despite his past leadership record, in the last decade Mr. Giuliani has unfortunately shrunk to become a highly controversial, divisive ideologue."
Donald Bain, the college's president, said that the former New York City mayor would remain as the speaker. "Mr. Giuliani is expected to speak about his role in the Sept. 11 recovery. I believe this will be of interest and value to our students," Bain wrote.
Widespread outrage followed two female researchers' comment on Twitter in which they shared a peer reviewer's response to their submission on a study of the path of male and female doctoral students to postdocs and later employment. The reviewer suggested that the researchers might improve their paper by adding one or two male co-authors. Reaction has been intense. Times Higher Education has identified the journal as PLOS ONE.