Higher Education Quick Takes
Gordon Gee, president of Ohio State University, who has been facing criticism over disparaging remarks he made about Roman Catholics and others, has withdrawn from a planned graduation speech at a Catholic high school, The Columbus Dispatch reported. A university spokeswoman said that “it's a very important, very seminal moment for the young people and so he really wanted to ensure that the appropriate focus was kept on the young people who are graduating and their families."
Robert Barchi, president of Rutgers University, is facing considerable criticism for appointing an athletics director who was accused, earlier in her career, of being verbally abusive to athletes she was coaching. Now, The New York Times reported that Barchi appointed a chief of staff this year -- in the midst of the university's athletic scandals -- who was sued by four long-time Rutgers employees for age discrimination. Barchi was aware of the lawsuit when he promoted the chief of staff, Gregory S. Jackson. Rutgers, which was also sued, and Jackson have denied the charges in the suit.
The State Board of Higher Education in North Dakota voted Monday to buy out the contract of Hamid Shirvani, the system chancellor, The Bismarck Tribune reported. Shirvani has faced a series of conflicts in the state in which various campus and political officials have questioned his managerial style. He has maintained that he was hired to push a reform agenda, knowing that some would disagree. He said that he respected the board's decision, and that he had asked board members to either issue a strong show of support or to “please just buy out my contract and thank you very much."
A pilot partnership between San Jose State University and Udacity, the Silicon Valley-based ed tech company, revealed some hidden costs of online education, The Oakland Tribune reports.
"I get this call from San Jose State: 'Uh, we have a problem,'" recalled Mark Ryan, superintendent of a charter school in Oakland that was taking part in the project to offer for-credit online classes to students, including high school students. According to the newspaper, "It turned out some of the low-income teens didn't have computers and high-speed Internet connections at home that the online course required. Many needed personal attention to make it through. The final results aren't in yet, but the experiment exposed some challenges to the promise of a low-cost online education. And it showed there is still a divide between technology-driven educators and the low-income, first-generation college hopefuls they are trying to reach."
Udacity just signed a major deal with the Georgia Institute of Technology to offer a low-cost professional master's degree courses to 10,000 students at once.
Gordon Gee announced Tuesday afternoon that he is retiring as president of Ohio State University. His announcement did not reference the recent uproar over his comments about Roman Catholics, other universities and the Big 10. But he is leaving quickly -- retiring on July 1.
In a statement, Gee said: "I recently returned from a vacation with my family, during which time I had a chance to consider the university’s phenomenal achievements and the road that lies ahead for it. Ohio State now has a richness of new opportunities that would be the envy of most universities. During my days away, I also spent some time in self-reflection. And after much deliberation, I have decided it is now time for me to turn over the reins of leadership to allow the seeds that we have planted to grow. It is also time for me to reenergize and refocus myself."
Gee has been president twice at Ohio State -- from 1990-97 and from 2007 until now. In between those presidencies, he was president of Brown University and chancellor of Vanderbilt University. Prior to his first Ohio State presidency, he was president of West Virginia University and the University of Colorado.
A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a lower court's decision siding with a medical corporation in a patent fight with the University of Minnesota over ownership of medical devices for fixing heart defects. In its ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected claims by the university that AGA Medical Corp. had infringed on patents owned by Minnesota researchers for septal occluders, devices used to block holes in the wall separating the heart's two chambers. The appeals panel upheld a lower court's decision declaring summary judgment for the company.
Syracuse University announced Monday that it will bring its 20 students in Istanbul, scheduled to return on Sunday, back on Wednesday instead, in light of the unrest in Turkey. Other universities preparing for summer programs in Istanbul have been monitoring the situation there.
The Hürriyet Daily News, meanwhile, reported that some universities in Turkey are postponing final exams because of the protests.
New data on an early MOOC course offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are being released today in the journal Research and Practice in Assessment. The data are about the course Circuits and Electronics, which already has been the subject of some analysis. In an article in the journal, researchers reported on the use of course resources by those who earned certificates (greatest use on weekends, when students presumably had more time and just before assignments were due), the use of discussion boards (most students were lurkers, and viewed others comments without adding any of their own), and the countries of origin of students, based on IP addresses and perhaps not completely accurate as a result (greatest enrollments from the United States, followed by India, Britain, Colombia and Spain).
Canadian universities have been seeing steady growth in international enrollments, but only minimal interest from Americans, many of whom could potentially save a lot of money and (for those in some Northern states) enroll at institutions very close to home. An article in The Globe and Mail describes new efforts by some Canadian universities seeking to attract more American students. Special scholarships and increased marketing efforts are being tried by several universities.