Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 16, 2017

University of Hawaii President David Lassner announced Wednesday that he plans to suspend the search for a chancellor of the Manoa campus, The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported. The search was down to three finalists. Lassner said he reached out to one of the finalists (whom he did not name) to discuss the job and that person withdrew, and he decided not to proceed. Lassner will serve as interim chancellor while continuing as system president.

The finalists were: Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture; Lauren Robel, executive vice president and provost at Indiana University at Bloomington; and John Valery White, acting chancellor for the Nevada System of Higher Education.

February 16, 2017

Today on the Academic Minute, Zvi Loewy, professor of pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences at the Touro College of Pharmacy, takes a look at whether cannabis may be a somewhat unlikely source for relief for Parkinson's. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

February 15, 2017

A 23-year-old immigrant detained by federal immigration authorities despite holding a permit under former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is suing the government over his arrest, The New York Times reported.

Daniel Ramirez Medina has been detained since Friday, when immigration agents came to his house in Seattle to arrest his father and took him into custody as well. Medina, who came to the U.S. from Mexico at around age 7, has no criminal record that would jeopardize his status under the DACA program, under which more than 750,000 people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children have obtained temporary protection from deportation and two-year renewable work permits.

The Times article does not mention whether Medina is a current or former college student. But his detention -- which lawyers and advocates who talked to the Times say is the first they know of involving a DACA permit holder in good standing -- will likely be of concern to many in higher education. Many college leaders have expressed concern for the well-being of their current and former students who are DACA recipients and called for the continuation of the program under President Trump. During the campaign, Trump said he would end the DACA program, but he has since softened his tone somewhat, suggesting he would “work something out” for beneficiaries of DACA while offering no specifics. The Obama-era program remains in place.

February 15, 2017

University presses in the U.S. publish an estimated 15,000 books a year, about 3,000 of which are primary monographs in the humanities, according to a report that attempts to quantify that segment of the scholarly publishing market. The report, written by consultants Joseph Esposito and Karen Barch and supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, looked at publishing output at university presses between 2009 and 2013 to address a lack of information about how the presses operate. In a blog post, Esposito said there is not enough data to conclude whether the market for humanities monograph publishing is shrinking or growing. The report, which is based on a survey of 65 university presses, is available here.

February 15, 2017

The company behind the anonymous messaging app Yik Yak is betting on group messaging to capture the interests of college students, according to The Verge. Developers associated with the company last week released Hive, an app described as "an exclusive social network for college campuses." Yik Yak was once the go-to app for students to share campus gossip (as well as post anonymous harassment), but the app's popularity declined last year.

February 15, 2017

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, a membership and scholarship organization for community college students, has extended its participation criteria to students who are incarcerated or serving probation for criminal convictions. Those criteria previously would have been disqualifying.

“It’s our desire -- our mission -- to be part of the solution to a set of very complex social problems,” Lynn Tincher-Ladner, the group's president and CEO, said in a written statement. “It’s our way of ‘unchecking the box’ -- saying to students that their mistakes shouldn’t follow them forever.”

The group cited an influential study by the Rand Corp., which found that incarcerated individuals who actively participate in higher education are far less likely to return to prison after their release. The Obama administration also referenced that study in its 2015 decision to open up federal Pell Grant aid for up to 12,000 incarcerated students as part of an experimental program. Community colleges, including Michigan's Jackson College, are among the 67 institutions that are participating in the so-called Second Chance Pell pilot.

“The goal is to open the door to opportunity to people who are starting over,” said Daniel Phelan, president of Jackson College and a member of PTK's Board of Directors, which voted last month to expand its membership.

February 15, 2017

After 10 years of state oversight, a locally elected board will now govern Compton Community College District, in California.

"Returning control of Compton Community College District to the elected Board of Trustees has been a top priority of ours," said Cecilia Estolano, president of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, in a news release. "We will do everything in our power to help Compton achieve that next milestone of accreditation and full independence."

Ten years ago state lawmakers appointed a special trustee to oversee the district after administrative failure and fraud led to the college's accreditation being revoked. The college district's governing board and other state officials agreed that Compton has for two consecutive years met a comprehensive set of requirements detailed in its recovery plan.

February 15, 2017

Queens College of the City University of New York is today announcing a new push to help students who enroll in the fall and beyond graduate in four years. New students who register for 15 credits a semester and stay on track will be assured that they can graduate in four years. The college will provide each participating student with an "academic map" toward four-year graduation and monitoring tools to make sure students are on schedule. In addition, the college is pledging that sections will be offered so no student will miss a four-year graduation due to being unable to enroll in a course he or she needs. Currently the six-year graduation rate (the federal rate) is 60 percent, and the four-year rate is half that.

February 15, 2017

Ricardo Romo, longtime president of the University of Texas at San Antonio, has been placed on leave, The Texas Tribune reported. Romo was planning to retire in August. Little information is available on the reasons behind the leave, other than a university statement saying there is an investigation into "allegations related to his conduct."

February 15, 2017

Today on the Academic Minute, Kevin R. Caskey, professor of operations management at SUNY New Paltz, explores avenues that smaller downhill-ski manufacturers use to get their products on the slopes. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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