Federal funding for research and development fell by 9 percent from 2012 to 2013, but the National Science Foundation projects that it rose by 3 percent in 2014 and will grow by 2 percent in 2015, the agency says in a new report. The foundation's report breaks down the funding levels by agency, compares dollar levels for basic and applied research, and shows the proportion that flows to colleges and universities and to other research producers.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Two students have filed a federal lawsuit against Valencia College, a Florida community college, alleging that instructors forced them and other students to undergo vaginal probes as part of the process of teaching them to perform such procedures for ultrasounds and other purposes, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The suit alleges that those who complained were retaliated against.
The college declined to answer the specific points of the lawsuit but did release this statement: “The use of volunteers -- including fellow students -- for medical sonography training is a nationally accepted practice. Valencia’s sonography program has upheld the highest standards with respect to ultrasound scanning for educational purposes, including voluntary participation and professional supervision by faculty in a controlled laboratory setting. Nonetheless, we continue to review this practice and others to ensure that they are effective and appropriate for the learning environment.”
Former players are charging that the women's basketball program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has abused players in a number of ways, The Chicago Tribune reported. Former players accuse coaches of, among other things, forcing athletes to play when suffering from injuries, verbally abusing players and engaging in racially divisive tactics, such as referencing the race of players and considering separate practices for black athletes. The university -- which is already investigating allegations of forcing football players to play while injured -- is investigating. Thus far, the university says, it has not found wrongdoing. However, the university announced that an associate coach, Mike Divilbiss, has left his position.
Faculty members and administrators are arguing over the roots of a $10 million deficit facing the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio State University, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Administrators said that more students are arriving at college having completed some general education requirements in high school, meaning that enrollments in arts and sciences programs are lower. Many faculty say the university isn't admitting enough students who want to study the humanities. The university says that while applications are up from students who want to study the humanities, the increases are larger for other fields.
Two-thirds of college and university risk managers responding to a recent survey said they consider the risks associated with fraternities to be among the most significant risks facing higher education. When asked to describe how significant a liability risk fraternities are to an institution, half of the respondents said "medium risk" -- defined in the survey as posing "significant liability risk" -- and 14.3 percent said "high risk." About 7 percent of the managers said fraternities present "no unusual risk."
The survey, conducted by the University Risk Management and Insurance Association, also found that most risk managers are not convinced that their institution's current strategies for addressing fraternity risks are sufficient. Forty percent of the respondents said they are uncertain whether their strategies are effective, and a quarter said they feel that their strategies are not effective.
There was a sharp divide between risk managers at public and private institutions in how they view the advantages that fraternities provide to their campuses. More than one-third of respondents at private colleges said "there are no advantages" to having fraternities at their institutions. Only 10 percent of public institutions reported no advantages, with 70 percent of them saying that fraternities are important to alumni relations and philanthropic activities. The University Risk Management and Insurance Association said it conducted the survey to see if a recent "rash of negative news stories about alleged misconduct in certain fraternities" has affected how colleges view the risks associated with them.
Marquette University has removed a mural of Assata Shakur, who was convicted in the murder of a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 and later escaped prison and fled to Cuba, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The mural was painted in the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center on campus in March but drew attention from bloggers over the weekend. The university issued a statement that the mural did not reflect the "guiding values" of the university.
Portland Community College, in Oregon, on Monday announced that President Jeremy Brown was leaving. “This is a mutual parting of the ways,” said a statement from Deanna Palm, board chair. “The board and Dr. Brown realized they were each heading in different directions and have agreed to this separation in service.” The Oregonian noted that Brown will receive $300,000 as part of an agreement with the college. He started as president there two years ago.
The College of Saint Rose on Monday announced that it would eliminate 40 administrative and staff positions, 17 of them vacant, in a push to cut costs, The Albany Times-Union reported. The college's enrollment of 4,500 is down by about 800 since 2008. The college is also changing the way it covers employee health insurance. The college has covered 90 percent of costs and is maintaining that for those earning less than $30,000 a year. But those earning more will have to pay for a larger share of the costs.
A new study examines the prevalence of gender stereotypes in science -- all around the world. For the study, David I. Miller, a doctoral student in psychology at Northwestern University, asked participants how much they associated science with males or females. And participants were asked how much they associated words such as “math” and “physics” with male words such as “boy” and “man.” The strongest stereotypes were found in the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries, perhaps surprising, because those countries do a lot to recruit women into science. But those efforts haven't been hugely successful -- Dutch men outnumber Dutch women by nearly four to one among both science majors and employed researchers. The study found stereotypes were less prevalent in countries where more women are studying and employed in science.