Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 10, 2015

The doctors who work in clinics for students at the University of California System started a rolling strike Thursday, The Los Angeles Times reported. The doctors plan to strike for four days at the campuses in Northern and Central California, and then for four days at the campuses in Southern California. The university said that management doctors would fill in as much as possible, but that some nonessential appointments for students were being moved. The doctors' union says that the university has engaged in unfair labor practices in contract negotiations -- a charge the university denies.

 

April 10, 2015

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has filed court papers challenging the right of a county attorney to sue to block the closure of Sweet Briar College, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. The county attorney's suit cheered alumnae who have questioned the board's actions. But Herring said that it is the state that has oversight, not a county. Further, he suggested that the board of Sweet Briar has a right to close, provided it seeks permission from the state and that his office can make sure that "Sweet Briar's assets are used in a way that is in the public interest and as close as possible to the donation's original purpose."

April 10, 2015

A former Southeastern Louisiana University head women's volleyball coach violated National Collegiate Athletic Association rules when he allowed a volunteer coach to act as an assistant coach, the N.C.A.A. announced Thursday. The head coach invited the volunteer to join his staff in 2013, the N.C.A.A. stated, and soon instructed the volunteer to "perform coaching activities" without officially counting the coach as a member of the staff.

The head coach also arranged open gym sessions outside the playing season and had "impermissible interactions" with four volleyball prospects, including providing one-on-one instruction to a prospect who attended the university's summer camp. Penalties include a $5,000 fine, a two-year show-cause order for the former head coach and a one-year extension of the university's existing probation stemming from a 2013 case in which 137 athletes competed without meeting eligibility requirements. The probation will now end in 2018.

April 10, 2015

A reader sent us a video of Biddy Martin, Amherst College's president, announcing (in a very nonserious way) the performers for the annual spring concert. We could tell there was humor, but much of it went over our heads, so we consulted with some usually reliable sources at the college.

It turns out that Martin earlier this week sent an all-campus email announcing that the Dalai Lama would be visiting in October. But then she thought that maybe the wrong version of the email went out. So she asked Pete Mackey, chief communications officer: "This is the wrong version. What happened, Pete?" Except instead of sending the email to Mackey, she hit "reply all" on her all-campus email. That prompted students to organize mock protest movements to protect Mackey from any punishment. A #justiceforpete hashtag appeared on Twitter, and some students even staged a rally. (For the record, Martin assured the campus that Pete wasn't in trouble at all.)

It's not every campus communications officer who can inspire a rally in his defense. Nor would every president joke about her own mistake, as Martin does in the video that follows, and which may now make (some) sense. The video also provides answers for those who wonder what college presidents would do with their time if banned from using email.

 

 

April 10, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Greg Bell, a medieval history expert at Winthrop University, offers a profile of the Crusades, focusing on time off the battlefield. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

April 9, 2015

George Washington University is laying off 46 administrative employees, The Washington Post reported. The move comes as the university moves to cut all administrative units by 5 percent to deal with lost revenue from a decline in graduate enrollment.

 

April 9, 2015

The American Enterprise Institute's Center on Higher Education Reform today released two new reports on competency-based education, which follow a report the center released in January. The first paper uses results from a survey of hiring managers at companies around the country to learn about employers' perceptions of the emerging form of higher education. The survey found that while employers' overall awareness of competency-based education is low, those that do know about it have a favorable view.

The center's second paper seeks to describe best practices for the assessments that competency-based programs use. The report argues that the credibility of this form of higher education hinges on the quality of those assessments.

April 9, 2015

The Lumina Foundation today released its sixth annual report on the national college completion push it has helped lead. The foundation said 40 percent of working-age Americans held a two- or four-year degree in 2013, a modest improvement from the previous year's rate of 39.4 percent. Lumina's goal is for 60 percent of adults to hold a credential by 2025. Large attainment gaps persist by race, found the report, which breaks the gaps down by city and state.

April 9, 2015

Michigan State University has announced that it will phase out the burning of coal in its campus power plant by the end of 2016. Currently the plant burns natural gas, biomass and coal. But the university said that it was dropping coal because of its commitment to sustainability. Changing energy costs and new federal emission rules make the change financially viable as well, the university statement said.

 

April 9, 2015

Inside Higher Ed is pleased to release today "New Debates About Accountability," our latest compilation of articles. As with other such print-on-demand booklets, the compilation groups together news articles and opinion essays representing a range of views. The booklet is free and you may download a copy here. And you may sign up here for a free webinar on Wednesday, April 29, at 2 p.m. Eastern, about the themes of the booklet.

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