Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 17, 2017

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on Monday released a new curriculum it hopes employers, government and higher education can use to better collaborate on closing the skills gap.

Dubbed the Talent Pipeline Management Academy, the curriculum grew out of a multiyear project from the foundation that seeks to apply lessons from supply chain management to education and work-force development. The document was designed based on feedback from more than 70 chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and work-force intermediaries.

"The idea is that if employers play an expanded leadership role as 'end customers' of a talent supply chain, they will be more effective at organizing performance-driven partnerships with responsive preferred education and work-force training providers," the foundation said.

The curriculum includes a section about how employers can better communicate their hiring needs, with suggestions for conveying hiring requirements in a common language based on shared competency and credentialing frameworks.

October 17, 2017

Faculty members at Notre Dame de Namur University filed 15 wage claims against the institution with the California Division of Labor Standards and Enforcement, saying the university is keeping overload pay from them. The professors say that Notre Dame de Namur has abruptly decided to withhold overload pay, or compensation for extra courses taught, until the end of the year, in violation of a state labor law saying that work must be paid as it is performed.

“The university’s solution to its financial challenges is to dump ever more work for the same pay on faculty’s plates,” Jean Nyland, a professor of psychology, said in a statement Monday. “There’s a limit to how much faculty can be expected to sacrifice before student learning suffers. Delaying payment for our work means we are essentially loaning the university money for the year.”

Faculty, including tenure-track and tenured professors, at Notre Dame de Namur are part of a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union. Nationwide, few tenure-line faculty members on private campuses are unionized, due to a longstanding legal precedent saying they are managers and therefore exempt from collective bargaining.

John Allen Lemmon, interim provost, said in a statement that the university and its faculty union are in the early stages of their new collective bargaining relationship. "One small but important item in our work together is the area of overload pay," he said. "We have made constructive compromise that I believe will lead to continued progress in this new venture."

He did not elaborate.

October 17, 2017

Northwest Nazarene University announced Monday that its teams would no longer be known as the Crusaders and would from now on be known as the Nighthawks. "The Board of Trustees acknowledged that a crusader was historically understood as one who is committed to a worthy cause," said a statement from the university. "However, the board observed that more recently there has been a growing diversity of opinion regarding the mascot and nickname. Students, campus community members and alumni have expressed concern with the nickname and mascot because of its association with violence and destruction."

On the university's website, many alumni criticized the change. Wrote one alumnus, "Sadly, liberalism, 'feel good' and 'let's not offend' PC has now weakened and destroyed the (Brave Heart) strength of we warriors for Christ and our Kingdom."

October 17, 2017

David A. ThomasMorehouse College on Monday named David A. Thomas (at right) its next president. He will take office in January. Thomas a professor at Harvard Business School and formerly was dean of the business school at Georgetown University. He is the first nonalumnus named to the position in 50 years. Thomas plans a major capital campaign early on in his administration.

In June, Morehouse's interim president, William Taggart, died. He had taken over after John S. Wilson was ousted in April.

October 17, 2017

Today on the Academic Minute, Brian Moon, assistant professor of music at the University of Arizona, discusses how the industry is using numbers and algorithms to shape the songs of the future. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 16, 2017

A measure that would cover the first year of community college for California students was signed into law Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported. Whether the colleges are funded for that first year, however, is dependent on securing money in the state budget for next year.

"Community college changed my life. It gave me choices and opportunities and it opened doors," State Assemblyman Miguel Santiago said. "I know free community college will change the lives of Californians."

California offers fee waivers for low-income students, but the Times noted that some community college districts report that a substantial percentage of students eligible for the waiver don't apply for it.

October 16, 2017

A big name is technology is attaching his name to a new set of academic programs designed to train future workers for software and other companies. Woz U, bearing the nickname of Apple's less famous co-founder, Steve Wozniak, isn't an actual university, but a set of programs developed by a Wozniak-led team and offered by Southern Careers Institute, a for-profit college that offers business, cosmetology and other programs. Woz U will offer certifications in software development and computer support and eventually data science and cybersecurity, first in online formats and soon in in-ground "academies" in as many as 30 cities.

October 16, 2017

The Federal Trade Commission and a group of states last week announced a coordinated law-enforcement action against deceptive student loan debt-relief scams. The crackdown so far has featured new cases and a judgment against scammers who allegedly used deception and false promises to reel in more than $95 million in illegal fees in recent years. In some cases, the operations pretended to be affiliated with the government.

For example, the FTC said the Los Angeles-based A1 DocPrep took in at least $6 million through unlawful student loan debt-relief and mortgage-assistance schemes. The company claimed to be affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education and promised to reduce borrowers' monthly payments or to forgive their loans.

“Winter is coming for debt-relief scams that prey on hardworking Americans struggling to pay back their student loans,” Maureen K. Ohlhausen, the FTC's acting chair, said in a written statement. “The FTC is proud to work with state partners to protect consumers from these scams, help them learn how to spot a scam and let them know where to go for legitimate help.”

October 16, 2017

When Albright College football player Gyree Durante took a knee during the national anthem before an Oct. 7 game, he knew he was breaking a team agreement. He soon found himself kicked off the team altogether.

Now, professors at the Pennsylvania institution are rallying around Durante, passing a resolution last week condemning his dismissal from the team, a decision a spokesman said was made by the head coach. “The assembled faculty of Albright College do not support the dismissal of Gyree Durante from the football team and believe that his dismissal is a threat to freedom of conscience and freedom of speech,” the resolution read.

Durante is still attending Albright at a student but told the Philadelphia Tribune he plans on transferring. “To see that the professors have my back and are supportive is encouraging,” Durante said. “It helps to keep me levelheaded in the classroom and stay calm.”

The team had originally agreed to kneel during the coin toss and stand for the anthem.

October 16, 2017

A University of Kansas engineering student was able to capture professors’ personal information from their computers last year, and now faculty members are worried about how simple the hacking maneuver was to pull off.

The hacker used a keystroke logger to capture his professors’ log-in information and change his failing grades to A’s, the Kansas City Star reported.

“He may never even have gotten caught, but he got greedy,” said Ron Barrett-Gonzalez, a engineering professor at KU. “It does look a little suspicious when you are on academic probation and the dean’s honor roll at the same time.”

A keystroke logger can capture anything typed on a given computer, from personal messages and passwords to Social Security numbers, hence the worry from faculty that they too could easily be victims. University administrators learned about the hack during the 2016-17 academic year and expelled the student, the Star reported, but faculty were not notified about the matter until last week.

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