Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 22, 2014

A Purdue University undergraduate is facing a murder charge in the shooting death Tuesday of another student at the university. The university was locked down in the early afternoon Tuesday after shots were fired in a classroom building. One student, Cody Cousins, was arrested in the death Andrew F. Boldt, both of whom were seniors in the College of Engineering, according to a university statement. The Journal and Courier of Lafayette, Ind., reported that the two men both were teaching assistants for an electrical and computer engineering professor.

January 22, 2014

Colorado State University at Pueblo is being criticized not only by faculty leaders on its own campus, but by advocates for free speech nationally over its removal of the email account of a professor who has criticized budget cuts at the university. The university removed the email account of Timothy McGettigan, a professor of sociology, after he sent out an email to students and faculty members in which he urged them to fight the cuts. His subject line was "Children of Ludlow," referring to a 1914 massacre of striking coal miners in southern Colorado. McGettigan compared the way the central system administration was treating Pueblo to the bloody way coal mine owners treated their workers 100 years ago. Although McGettigan used that violent incident as a metaphor for the way the university administrators were treating the campus, and did not call for violence, university officials invoked Columbine and Virginia Tech to justify the need to act and remove his email account.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education on Tuesday sent a letter to Pueblo Monday in which it said there was no justification for removing the email account. "FIRE is deeply concerned by the threat to freedom of expression at Colorado State University–Pueblo (CSU-Pueblo) in light of the university’s deactivation of professor Tim McGettigan’s email account after he sent an email to students and faculty criticizing the university system’s leadership," the letter from FIRE said. "By declaring McGettigan’s email a violation of university policy and labeling him a threat to campus security, CSU - Pueblo has gravely violated his rights and deeply chilled expression."

The board of the Colorado Conference of the American Association of University Professors issued a statement that said in part: "The American Association of University Professors Colorado Conference emphatically rejects Colorado State University-Pueblo President Lesley Di Mare’s reckless and damaging conflation of legitimate faculty criticism of proposed mission-compromising cuts to faculty and staff at CSU-Pueblo with the brutal and mindless slaughter of innocents at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Arapahoe High School.  While any university president is obligated to insure the physical safety of their university community, associating peaceful and legitimate dissent with the violent intentions of deranged gunmen is the very height of absurdity and reveals an appalling lack of professional judgment in a university president."



January 22, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Neil Websdale of Northern Arizona University explains efforts to predict the escalation of domestic violence. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


January 22, 2014

David R. Pierce, a longtime community college administrator who led the American Association of Community Colleges during the formative decade of the 1990s, died last week. Pierce was a mathematics instructor who went on to lead North Iowa Area Community College, the Illinois Community College Board and the Virginia Community College System, before becoming president and CEO of the nation's primary association of community colleges, which he led from 1991-2000. Details on his accomplishments can be found here.

January 22, 2014

Rasmussen College on Tuesday announced it had changed its corporate status to that of a Public Benefit Corporation, which essentially means the for-profit chain will donate more employee and facility usage time to its local communities. The college will not have a different tax status, however.

Rasmussen is a mid-sized higher education chain with 24 campuses in the Midwest and Florida. Kristi Waite, its president, said the college was making the shift -- which is rare in higher education -- to send a message. She said Rasmussen would lose some money because of the change.

January 22, 2014

With a blizzard sweeping the East, AccuWeather.com released a list of the "10 snowiest colleges in the U.S.," and loyal alumni of those institutions started boasting about the rankings. We couldn't help but ask some questions about the methodology when we noticed the Syracuse University was listed as tied for second, while the State University of New York Upstate Medical University (literally across the street) didn't make the list. And it didn't make sense that the University of Rochester could be third on the list but its neighbors, such as Monroe Community College and Rochester Institute of Technology, could have so much less snow so as not to make the list at all. AccuWeather responded that it "could not include all the colleges in the surrounding areas without being repetitive in the same region," so "we choose those colleges that we believed the most people would know."

So with that rather large caveat, here is the top 10 list, followed by typical annual inches of snowfall:

1. Michigan Technological University: 200

2. Syracuse University and SUNY Oswego: 124

3. University of Rochester: 99

4. State University of New York at Buffalo: 94

5. University of Minnesota at Duluth: 86

6. University of Vermont: 81

7. Southern New Hampshire University: 69

8. Western Michigan University: 67

9. Cornell University: 65

10. University of Alaska at Fairbanks: 62



January 21, 2014

A survey of senior academic affairs officers in higher education has found that 84 percent of their institutions have common learning goals for students, up from 74 percent four years ago. This suggests that measuring student learning is now "the norm," says a report on the results from the National Institute for Learning Outcome Assessment. The study also found that the "prime driver" for assessment efforts is unchanged from the last survey: pressure from regional and specialized accreditation agencies.


January 21, 2014

Brent Sandy, a music professor at the University of Iowa, is facing multiple criminal charges after he reported his university-issued laptop missing and presumably stolen, The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported. The university was able to trace the laptop to Sandy's home. He then confessed, authorities said, to taking the laptop home and reporting it stolen because he was scheduled to get a new laptop and had porn on the existing laptop. When authorities searched his house, they also found a container of marijuana. So Sandy now faces charges related to the false report and the pot.

January 21, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Tom Mitchell of Carnegie Mellon University introduces us to NELL, a language learning computer. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


January 21, 2014

The Education Department, citing weather conditions, has canceled its “technical symposium” on the proposed college ratings system that was scheduled for Wednesday, according to an email sent to presenters Tuesday morning. Officials have rescheduled the daylong, public meeting for February 20. 

The symposium was set to take place at the department’s K Street offices in downtown Washington, D.C., where a winter storm warning was in effect on Tuesday and the National Weather Service forecasted three to seven inches of snow. Federal government offices were also closed Tuesday.

The meeting is expected to feature more than a dozen “technical experts” who will make presentations based on the department’s December request for information on how it should develop metrics for a ratings system.  


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