Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 19, 2013

Boundless, a startup that creates digital "textbook replacements," has settled with publishers Cengage, Macmillan and Pearson after the companies sued for violating their copyright, the company announced on Wednesday. The parties reached a confidential settlement that means Boundless can "continue doing what we set out to do on a high level throughout the world of education," CEO Ariel Diaz said.

The publishers brought the lawsuit against Boundless in March 2012, alleging the company had copied the ideas and presentation of Pearson's Biology, Cengage’s Principles of Economics and Macmillan Higher Ed’s Psychology. Boundless's alternatives were eventually rewritten. The case has been in remediation since May 2013, "but it’s nice to get it over the line," Diaz said.

In a joint statement, the publishers said "We are very pleased to reach a resolution regarding our case with Boundless. We will continue to safeguard the rights of our authors and take action against the misappropriation of our content by any and all parties."

 
December 19, 2013

A new report from the Center for American Progress proposes reforms to improve the connection between higher education and employers. Stackable credentials, competency-based education and more structured pathways for students are promising practices that can help bridge this gap, according to the report, which was written by David A. Bergeron, a former U.S. Department of Education official who is vice president for postsecondary education at the center. The report includes several recommendations for policy makers and accreditors that could encourage the faster adoption of those emerging approaches.

December 19, 2013

The Southern Illinois University at Carbondale chancellor and athletics director stated their support for the head men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson on Wednesday, after Hinson spent several minutes of his post-game press conference (see video below) raging about athletes’ poor performance in the team's 73-65 loss Tuesday night. Among other things, the coach called them "uncoachable" “mama’s boys,” called a specific player by name “PG-rated” and “absolutely awful,” said his wife could have made more baskets, and joked that “there was a sniper in the gym” and that athletes who fell on the court got “sniped.”

Hinson told USA Today Sports on Wednesday that he stood by everything he said, but apologized for singling out the one player. “Let’s get something straight,” he said. “I didn't grab anybody, I didn't hit anybody. I didn't even use profanity. I just want my kids to play harder. You've gotta be able to criticize in this society. I want what's best for my players.”

The coach also said he had the support of Athletic Director Mario Moccia. In a statement sent to Inside Higher Ed, Chancellor Rita Cheng called Hinson “a coach who cares deeply about his players and their success.”

“Last night, his passion for his team merged with his frustration for its performance, resulting in some unfortunate statements that I know he regrets,” Cheng wrote. “We always hope that all of our coaches will publicly support our teams and student athletes regardless of the score. Barry understands and agrees with this principle, and I’m confident that he will work to embody it as he continues to rebuild our team.”

Twenty months into the job, Hinson has 16 wins and 25 losses.

 

 

 

December 19, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Robert Levenson of the University of California at Berkeley explores the genetics nature of marital satisfaction. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

December 19, 2013

California's Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) wants the state's government to devise criteria for determining which for-profit institutions are most at risk for having questionable business practices. In a newly released report, the agency said state regulators should exempt most for-profits that hold regional accreditation from their reviews, freeing up resources to conduct targeted oversight. Possible factors that could be used to determine which institutions need extra scrutiny could include "school ownership, types of programs offered, track record of operation in state and performance criteria," the report said.

December 18, 2013

The Apollo Education Group's global division is buying 70 percent of Open Colleges Australia for $99 million, with additional payments of up to $48 million, the for-profit chain announced Tuesday in a news release. Founded in 1910, Open Colleges offers more than 130 online courses. Company officials hope the Australian institution "provides a platform for Apollo Global to operate and expand in other areas of the region.”

December 18, 2013

The elected council for the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association has unanimously opted to support the academic boycott of Israel, making it the third U.S.-based scholarly association, after the Association for Asian American Studies and the American Studies Association, to do so.

On NAISA’s website, the president of the association, Chadwick Allen, a professor of English and coordinator of American Indian studies at Ohio State University, wrote that the council opted to write its own declaration of support rather than commit itself to an outside organization’s specific language. In a “Declaration of Support for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions," the council urges the association’s members “to boycott Israeli academic institutions because they are imbricated with the Israeli state and we wish to place pressure on that state to change its policies. We champion and defend intellectual and academic freedom, and we recognize that conversation and collaboration with individuals and organizations in Israel/Palestine can make an important contribution to the cause of justice. In recognition of the profound social and political obstacles facing Palestinians in such dialogues, however, we urge our members and supporters to engage in such actions outside the aegis of Israeli educational institutions, honoring this boycott until such time as the rights of the Palestinian people are respected and discriminatory policies are ended.”

Academic boycotts have been deeply controversial: opponents argue that boycotts in general represent a violation of academic freedom, while they say that boycotts against Israel in particular are discriminatory in singling out one nation for criticism. In a message on NAISA's website, Allen wrote that the declaration and the boycott can be discussed at the association’s annual conference in May if members believe it to be appropriate.  The council’s declaration was originally prompted by a member-generated petition.

December 18, 2013

George Mason University and a student group, GMU Students Against Israeli Apartheid, have come to an agreement on a protest walkout planned by the group during the winter commencement at the university, to be held Thursday. The walkout is to protest a speaker and honorary degree recipient, the Israeli business executive and philanthropist Shari Arison. Students say that her ties to prominent Israeli businesses make her a supporter of "the illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine," and they have criticized the university for inviting her to speak. Arison recently endowed a chair at the university. Under the agreement with the student group, those who want to leave will be informed before Arison speaks, and will be given a space outside the arena to sit while she is talking. They will then return. A spokeswoman for George Mason said she knew of only one graduating student who is in the organization, but she said that others may be there in the audience.

Ángel Cabrera, the university's president, blogged about the controversy Tuesday. He said he would be "proud" to introduce her, and that her businesses philosophy and philanthropy promote "positive change" in the world. Added Cabrera: "Shari is an Israeli, and I am aware that her presence at graduation has upset some students and faculty who have had a very painful relationship to Israel in terms of the conflict and their people’s history.  With full respect for all concerned, our graduation ceremony will help to reaffirm our commitment to the mission of our university, and my own highest goals, namely that the world is made better by deep, courageous, and compassionate engagement with all peoples, with their civilizations, with their respective religions, with their hopes and dreams, and with their sorrows and suffering, even when doing so can put us in between peoples in conflict. This is the Mason way – to enable and empower students from all civilizations, and to pioneer new initiatives and projects that will make this precious planet a far better place for all than the one we inherited."

 

December 18, 2013

An article in The New York Times explores the impact of conference realignment on the travel logistics of college athletes. Many teams are traveling much longer distances, resulting in greater time and expense to reach opponents, as conferences no longer are confined to particular regions.

December 18, 2013

Duke University will add a softball team and increase to the maximum number of allowed athletic scholarships in women’s fencing, swimming, diving and track and field, the institution announced Monday. Reached for comment, a university spokesman attributed the decision to a number of factors, including “the opportunities that can be made available for student-athletes, facilities and services that will be necessary to create a positive experience for them, the competitive landscape (both in the [Atlantic Coast Conference] and nationally), financial implications, and Title IX.”

The Women’s Sports Foundation noted on its website that the organization began urging Duke to make changes a year ago in order to comply with Title IX. Hailing the decision as an "advocacy win," the foundation said it "will likely bring Duke into compliance with Title IX."

 

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