Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 4:28am

The University of Denver went ahead Monday night with its plans to honor President George W. Bush, as a protest went ahead outside the event, The Denver Post reported. Bush appeared at a fund-raising event (closed to the press) for the university's Josef Korbel School of International Studies. Anger over the award first surfaced this summer, when word spread that the university was going to honor Bush for "improving the human condition." The university then announced that it would change the award so that it would honor the former president's "global service." That change did not satisfy those who picketed outside the event. They held signs saying things such as "No Awards for War Criminals" and "The Iraq War Is Not a Global Service."

 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 3:00am

A History News Network poll of historians at highly rated colleges and universities have found that they give President Obama a B- grade on his performance as president. The historians were asked to grade the president in 15 categories. He earned the highest grades (all A-) in communication ability, Supreme Court appointments, integrity and crisis management. He earned his lowest grades in transparency and accountability (C+) and relationship with Congress (C).

 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 3:00am

Officials at U.S. News & World Report have warned that some methodology changes this year might lead to more movement on the rankings -- announced this morning -- than is the norm. That may well be the case, but the top three national universities and liberal arts colleges will be quite familiar to those who have tracked the rankings in the past. And the top 10 lists look pretty familiar, too.

One statistic Inside Higher Ed has tracked is the participation rate of those who participate in the controversial "reputational" portion of the rankings, in which presidents and others evaluate other colleges -- a system many believe leads to high rankings for colleges that have been historically strong and well known. This year, the participation rate of presidents over all dropped two points, to 42 percent. At liberal arts colleges (a sector that has been particularly critical of the rankings) the numbers are stable at 47 percent. U.S. News continues to be unable to get a high participation rate from its survey of high school counselors. Only 11 percent participated this year, the same as last year.

I will add link to rankings and full methodology when they go live in a.m. -sj

Monday, September 9, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of British Columbia is the second Canadian university in a week to be investigating the use of a chant seen as encouraging rape and underage sex, CTV News reported. Last week, officials at Saint Mary's University, in Halifax, responded with outrage to a sexist chant on video, with orientation leaders involved. Now, UBC is investigating with a similar chant is used during orientation at its business school. The chant: “Y-O-U-N-G at UBC we like ‘em young, Y is for your sister, O is for oh so tight, U is for under age, N is for no consent, G is for go to jail."

Monday, September 9, 2013 - 3:00am

Athletes are protesting a shift in Lafayette College's policy about students who need medical help because of alcohol consumption, The Morning Call reported. Like many colleges, Lafayette has a "Good Samaritan" policy that assures students that they will not be punished for underage drinking when they seek medical attention for themselves or others. So far this academic year, athletes have made up half of those needing medical attention due to binge drinking, and athletics officials said that they were going to start punishing such athletes, with suspensions from competition.

Some athletes are predicting that the new policy will discourage students from seeking help, potentially endangering them. But Bruce McCutcheon, the athletics director, defended the new policy. "It is a privilege to wear Lafayette on your chest. If you choose behaviors that are not responsible, you need to be prepared for the consequences," he said.

Monday, September 9, 2013 - 3:00am

The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools has lifted the sanction of "on notice" from Ashford University, according to a corporate filing from Bridgepoint Education, the for-profit university's holding company. The commission had been concerned that Ashford would not meet its new standards for accreditation, including a requirement for colleges to have a "substantial presence" in the regional accreditor's geographical domain. But the university apparently resolved those issues. In a related action, Ashford's biggest accreditation victory this year has been to successfully transfer its status to the Western Association of Colleges and Schools, a move that took two tries.

Monday, September 9, 2013 - 3:00am

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last week gave a lift to free speech rights for faculty members at public colleges and universities by ruling that a 2006 Supreme Court decision does not limit those rights. Instead, the appeals court found that a more general First Amendment analysis protects those rights. The 2006 ruling, in Garcetti v. Ceballos, limited the speech rights of public employees. But the decision, which concerned the Los Angeles district attorney's office, noted that the ruling did not deal with identical issues to those found in public higher education. Despite that, some courts have been applying the ruling to faculty disputes at public universities -- while others have not. Faculty leaders have been pushing for clarification of university policies as a way to protect free speech rights amid the uncertain legal environment.

Last week's ruling, which essentially adopted the position of faculty groups with regard to Garcetti, came in a lawsuit by David Demers, a professor who says he was retaliated against with negative performance reviews for writings that criticized the administration. A lower court, citing Garcetti, rejected the suit, which has now been revived by the appeals court. The appeals court sent the case back to the district court, however, and did not determine whether retaliation had taken place.

Monday, September 9, 2013 - 3:00am

Inside Higher Ed is today releasing a free compilation of articles -- in print-on-demand format -- about accreditation and student learning. The articles aren't today's breaking news, but reflect long-term trends and some of the forward-looking thinking of experts on how colleges are responding to the increasing pressure they're facing in accreditation to measure student learning. The goal is to provide these materials (both news articles and opinion essays) in one easy-to-read place. Download the booklet here.

This is the third in a series of such compilations that Inside Higher Ed is publishing on a range of topics.

On Wednesday, September 25 at 1 p.m. Eastern, Inside Higher Ed's editors will conduct a free webinar to talk about the issues raised in the booklet's articles and essays, as well as the latest developments involving accreditation and student learning. To register for the webinar, please click here.

Monday, September 9, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Bill Fischel of Dartmouth College reveals the history of the modern academic calendar. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, September 9, 2013 - 3:00am

The International Olympic Committee voted Sunday to reinstate wrestling as a sport at least through the 2020 and 2024 summer games, after leaders in the sport changed rules to modernize it and add competitive classes for women, The New York Times reported. The IOC's decision last winter to drop wrestling as a core sport -- threatening its place in future games -- raised concerns among advocates for the sport that more colleges would drop their programs, which have eroded in recent years.

 

 

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