Higher Education Quick Takes
Japan is planning to offer scholarships for students at its universities to study abroad, The New York Times reported. The move is aimed to reverse a decline in the number of Japanese students who go abroad, and to make the country more competitive economically.
Alumni of Pennsylvania State University, who elect some members of the university's board, voted to unseat two incumbents, The Centre Daily Times reported. The three candidates elected (one seat was empty) were all backed by Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship, a group formed by alumni who were angry over the dismissal of the late Joe Paterno as head football coach amid the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The results were announced as the Penn State board, consistent with the recommendations of an independent review, announced a series of changes in board structure, including the removal of the university president and state governor as voting members of the board, shrinking the size of the board, and creating a process for the removal of trustees.
When Richard Herman resigned as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (amid a scandal over admissions procedures that favored politically connected applicants), he was awarded a salary of $212,000 a year as he took on a faculty position. But an article in The Chicago Tribune raises questions about whether he is performing the full duties of a faculty member. Herman is required to teach only two classes a year in the College of Education, not the standard four a year. And his class this semester was called off due to low enrollment -- the second time that has happened since 2011, the Tribune said. Herman lives in Chicago and said through a university spokesman that he travels to campus once a week. Herman has switched to online courses when his classes have been canceled. He declined to comment on the questions raised by the article.
Niall Ferguson, the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, on Saturday released an apology for comments he made about John Maynard Keynes. Ferguson said that Keynes didn't care about future generations because he was gay and did not have children. In a statement posted on his blog, Ferguson said that his comments were off-the-cuff and "as stupid as they were insensitive." Ferguson elaborated: "First, it is obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations. Second, I had forgotten that Keynes’s wife Lydia miscarried. My disagreements with Keynes’s economic philosophy have never had anything to do with his sexual orientation. It is simply false to suggest, as I did, that his approach to economic policy was inspired by any aspect of his personal life. As those who know me and my work are well aware, I detest all prejudice, sexual or otherwise."
Students and faculty members say that security officials at Providence College regularly engage in racial profiling, the Associated Press reported. Black and Latino students say that they are followed by campus security and required to produce identification in situations in which white students don't face similar demands. A college spokesman said that Providence has "moved swiftly" to deal with the concerns, and is requiring security staff members to go through "cultural competency" training.
Throughout the economic downturn, some pundits and politicians have suggested that there is limited value to a college degree. An analysis in The New York Times, based on the latest unemployment data, suggests otherwise. The Times noted that in April, when the national unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, the rate for college graduates was 3.9 percent. Further, the number of college-educated graduates with jobs is now up 9.1 percent since the recession started. The number of those with a high school diploma, but no college degree, who have jobs is down 9 percent.
Adjunct faculty members at Georgetown University voted late last week to unionize, becoming the third major group in the Washington area to join a burgeoning citywide organizing effort by the Service Employees International Union. Nearly three-quarters of the eligible faculty members who voted supported the union. Georgetown officials said they would support the decision of the adjunct faculty members to unionize.
Adjuncts at George Washington and American Universities are already part of the citywide bargaining unit, SEIU Local 500.
Medical schools are on track to meet a goal set in 2006 of raising enrollments by 30 percent over a decade to try to meet a perceived shortage of physicians, the Association of American Medical Colleges said in a report issued Thursday. The association's annual report on enrollments said that the group's member colleges are projected to enroll 21,434 by 2017-18 -- which would represent a 30 percent rise over the target that the association originally aimed to reach by 2015.
California State University's Channel Islands campus will be closed today after a local wildfire caused officials to evacuate students and staff, the Ventura County Star reported. By Thursday afternoon fire had spread to the campus northwest of Los Angeles, charring landscaping but damaging no buildings, the newspaper reported.