Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 3:00am

Okay, that was a cheap ploy. Yes, the contest is winter-themed this month, but it really has nothing to do with the Arctic Vortex. But you clicked, right? Please click here to submit a caption for this month's cartoon contest, and visit this page to vote for your favorite among the three finalists chosen by our panel of judges for last month's drawing. You offered lots of good captions for them to choose from.

And please join us in congratulating the winner of November's Cartoon Caption Contest: Tom Panettiere, associate director of financial aid and scholarships at the State University of New York at Purchase.

His submission for the cartoon at left -- The college, ever mindful of its job placement reporting, was glad to be able to count Jinny Barholomew as both a "pilot" and as an "advertising executive" due to a gray area in the regulations. -- earned the most votes from our readers. He will receive an Amazon gift certificate and an original of the cartoon signed by Matthew Henry Hall.

Thanks to all for participating.

Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Wing Yee (VerBon) Cheung of the University of Southampton explains why how we think about the past can influence attitudes about the future. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- The Education Department is convening a panel of experts to make public presentations later this month on how the Obama administration should develop a federal college ratings system, a department spokesman said Tuesday.

The National Center for Education Statistics, the department’s research arm, will host a symposium on January 22 featuring “experts on empirical methods for measuring performance, metric development, and state and federal postsecondary data and data collection and dissemination infrastructures,” according to a forthcoming department announcement. 

Officials have asked the attendees to make presentations based on the department’s December request for information on how it should piece together a ratings system. In that notice, official sought answers to 30 questions, including information on what kinds of data are available, how they should be weighted in a ratings system, and how best to present ratings information to consumers.

The daylong event will be held at the Education Department’s K Street offices here and will be open to the public. A department spokesman Tuesday confirmed the following list of experts who will be presenting:

  • Braden Hosch, State University of New York at Stony Brook
  • Brandon Busteed, Gallup
  • Christine Keller, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
  • Dana Mukamel, University of California at Irvine
  • David Figlio, Northwestern University
  • Don Hossler, Indiana University
  • Hans L’Orange, State Higher Education Executive Officers association
  • John Pryor, University of California at Los Angeles
  • Kevin Carey, New America Foundation
  • Patrick Kelly, National Center for Higher Education Management Systems
  • Patrick Perry, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office
  • Robert Kelchen, Seton Hall University
  • Robert Morse, U.S. News & World Report
  • Roger Benjamin, Council for Aid to Education
  • Russell Poulin, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education’s Cooperative for Educational Technologies
  • Sarah Turner, University of Virginia
  • Sean Corcoran, New York University
  • Tod Massa, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
  • Tom Bailey, Columbia University 
Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 4:29am

California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, will present his 2014-15 budget plan today, and a leaked copy suggests a continued recovery in state support for higher education -- especially for community colleges. The University of California and California State University systems would each receive a 5 percent increase, contingent on continued adherence to a deal with the state to freeze tuition rates. State funds for community colleges would increase by more than 11 percent. In his budget plan, Governor Brown calls for more efforts throughout public higher education to be more efficient and to improve graduation rates. While the plan requires legislative approval, the ideas in the plan have attracted legislative support.

Governor Brown is also proposing a $50 million awards program to use $50 million in one-time General Fund for the Awards for Innovation in Higher Education program. Funds would support grants for colleges with plans to "significantly increase the number of individuals in the state who earn bachelor’s degrees, allow students to earn bachelor’s degrees that can be completed within four years of enrollment in higher education and ease transfer through the state’s education system, including by recognizing learning that has occurred across the state’s education segments or elsewhere."

 

Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 4:34am

A student's request at York University in Canada has set off a debate over conflicting rights, The Globe and Mail reported. The student is male and enrolled in an online course, and he has objected to a requirement for a group work project that would require him to meet in person with some students, including female students. He says a public meeting with women would violate his religious beliefs. The professor wants to reject the request, saying that to grant it would endorse a biased view of women. But the university says that the professor should grant the request out of deference to religious beliefs. The student's religion has not been identified.

 

Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 3:00am

Cengage Learning, the second-largest higher education publisher in the U.S., on Tuesday announced it has formed a partnership with Knewton to provide adaptive learning technology in a handful of its products. Cengage will use Knewton technology in the company's MindTap platform, an interactive textbook reader. The technology will first appear in the management and sociology disciplines, a Knewton spokesman said.

The partnership is the latest in a series for Knewton, which provides its technology to publishers such as Cambridge University Press and Pearson. Cengage is in the midst of restructuring after the company filed for bankruptcy protection in July.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 3:00am

A broad range of Tennessee institutions -- two-year and four-year, public and private -- are collaborating on a new "reverse transfer" program designed to allow students to receive associate degrees from their two-year college after they transfer to a four-year institution. A $400,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation will fund the program.

Each year, officials from the coalition of institutions said, about 2,300 of the students who transfer from Tennessee’s community colleges to four-year institutions are within 15 credit hours of the required 60 for an associate degree. The new online system will centralize transfer students’ academic histories, while mapping out an optional completion path toward obtaining the associate degree.

“We’re on the forefront of this technology, said Joe DiPietro, president of the University of Tennessee System. “We know that students who are awarded their associate’s degree while attending a four-year institution are more likely to receive their bachelor’s degree.”

The system, which doesn’t have a formal name yet, will let transfer students know when they have finished the associate degree requirements. As of now, nine public universities, 13 community colleges and eight private institutions are participating in this partnership. DiPietro said he expects the system to fully launch by spring of 2015. 

 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 3:00am

The American Studies Program at Middlebury College has issued a different kind of letter in response to the American Studies Association’s recent vote to boycott Israeli universities. In addition to stating its opposition to the resolution, the letter goes further to encourage the association to revisit its constitution and mission statement to consider the appropriate role of political action and to develop a mechanism whereby institutional members of the association (as opposed to just individual members) can vote. 

“As an institutional member, our program never dreamed that we would be spending so much of our time and energy being asked by our administration, alumni, colleagues, students, and the media to support, explain, defend, or denounce an ASA resolution on which we had no right to vote. In this way, the boycott resolution has worked very much against ‘the encouragement of research, teaching [and] publication’ given emphasis in the organization’s constitution,” the letter reads.

The letter is signed by Middlebury's American studies program director and seven other faculty members. “Our longer-term membership in the ASA is by no means a foregone conclusion, because we do not have a full understanding of the association’s purpose," they write. "If we find no constructive engagement on the effort to define more clearly the ASA’s mission, we will, with regret, leave this long-valued institution.”

More than 100 college presidents have gone on record opposing the ASA boycott, as well as several major higher education associations; at least five universities have withdrawn or plan to withdraw as institutional members of the association.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Brody Sandel, of Aarhus University in Denmark, discusses why forests are becoming increasingly restricted to sloped terrain. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 3:00am

Boston University is investigating how someone managed the steal paychecks of 10 employees. The thefts were apparently the result of "phishing," in which someone uses a scheme to obtain access to email accounts or digital records. In this case, the person changed direct deposit information so that checks would not go into the accounts of employees, but instead elsewhere.

 

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