Cliopatria -- a group blog about history (broadly defined) -- is shutting down after more than 8 years of almost daily publication. Led by Ralph Luker, the blog attracted many historian/writers over the years who are web personalities, people like KC Johnson, Hugo Schwyzer, Claire Potter, Sean Wilentz and many others (including Inside Higher Ed columnist Scott McLemee). The blog was hosted by the History News Network.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Florida State University has agreed to pay $75,000 each to two blind students who sued the institution, charging that it was using instructional materials that had not been made available in forms they could use. The university denied wrongdoing but agreed to examine various technology tools to make sure they are made accessible to all.
Two Texas universities reported Tuesday that, working with community colleges, they can offer degrees that cost only $10,000 over four years, The Texas Tribune reported. Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, set that goal, whose feasibility was questioned by many educators. But Texas A&M at San Antonio is about to offer a bachelor's in information technology with an emphasis on cyber security that will cost about $9,700. And Texas A&M at Commerce will soon offer a bachelor's of applied science in organizational leadership for under $10,000.
Israel's Council for Higher Education has approved the nation's first plan to encourage universities to hire more women as faculty members, Haaretz reported. Women are well-represented in the student ranks and the junior faculty slots, but only 15 percent of full professors are women. The plan calls on universities to develop family-friendly policies, to appoint advisers to help presidents develop strategies for recruiting and to keep better data on the status of women in academe.
Jack Scott, chancellor of the California Community Colleges, announced Tuesday that he will retire in September. Scott's career has mixed academe and politics. He has been president of Pasadena City College and Cypress College, and was an influential legislator on education issues during terms in California's Assembly and Senate. Scott became chancellor in 2009, and served in the role during a time of huge budget cuts and increased enrollment demands. California's community college system is highly decentralized, and Scott both pushed for more funds and for reforms that he said were needed in light of dwindling dollars.
A group of 81 scholarly journal publishers on Monday came out against the latest iteration of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) -- a bill that would require federal research grantees to make their resulting academic papers freely available to the public no more than six months after publication in a scholarly journal. The bill, introduced last month in both the House and the Senate, is the third iteration of FRPAA to be introduced since 2006; two previous versions failed to make it to a vote.
The Association of American Publishers (AAP) sent letters to prominent legislators in both chambers criticizing the bill for seeking to apply a “one-size-fits-all” deadline of six months before publishers, many of which charge for access to articles, must compete with a free version in a government database. In many disciplines, publishers retain the exclusive right to sell access to the peer-reviewed article for “several years before costs are recovered,” according to the AAP. Among the 81 signatories to the letters was Elsevier, a major journal publisher that last month withdrew its support for (and effectively nixed) the Research Works Act -- a bill that would have preemptively killed FRPAA -- after facing a boycott from frustrated scholars.
The American Anthropological Association, which caught flak last month from some of its members after its executive director wrote a note to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy criticizing public access mandates, did not sign on to either letter.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau began accepting complaints is there a link to add in case people want to check out the process? dl about private student loans Monday, a first step the agency is taking in regulating the private student lending market. The bureau is the sole agency regulating complaints about these loans, and is also preparing a report on the private lending market"agency"? or should this be "market" or something? dl based on interviews with students, parents, college administrators and others, to be presented to Congress this summer. Before the agency, borrowers with complaints about their loans had to find a bank's regulator in order to lodge a complaint, which was effectively impossible, Rohit Chopra, the bureau's student loan ombudsman, said at a National Association of missing "Student" in name here ... dl Student Financial Aid Administrators forum on Monday.
The bureau is also investigating why students borrow the way they do -- including why they don't max out federal loan limits before turning to credit cards, second mortgages and other financial instruments, Chopra said.
The outstanding balance on student loans has now hit $870 billion, more than the total credit card balance ($693 billion) and the total car loan balance ($730 billion), according to a report released Monday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The rise in student loan debt is hardly a new trend, but the report documents the extent of the debt and the impact it has not only on borrowers, but their families. The report notes that "unlike other types of household debt such as credit cards and auto loans, the student loan market is incredibly complex. Numerous players and institutions hold stakes at each level of the market, including federal and state governments, colleges and universities, financial institutions, students and their families, and numerous servicers and guarantee facilitators."
The University of California at Davis had been expected today to release the results of an independent inquiry into the use of pepper spray on nonviolent protesters there last year. But on Monday, the university announced that a threat by the police union to seek a temporary restraining order had led the the postponement of the release. University officials said they hoped to release the study soon.