Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 3:00am

A University of Maryland at College Park study of undergraduates' political news consumption habits suggests that students are spending little time on election news. The study -- whose lead investigator, Elia Powers, is a former Inside Higher Ed reporter -- asked students to keep track of how much time they spent following the news before, during and after Super Tuesday, when 10 states voted in the Republican presidential primary. Most students spent less than 30 minutes over three days, including the day of voting, consuming political news, the study found. (One possible explanation researchers noted: Only 28 of the more than 150 students studied identified as Republicans. Still, those Republicans weren't more engaged than other students.)

Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 3:00am

Roger Jenkins, dean of business at Miami University in Ohio, announced his retirement Monday, a week after it became public that he had returned to a court-appointed receiver $1.25 million in consulting fees from a man convicted of running a Ponzi scheme, The Dayton Daily News reported. In a memo to the faculty, Jenkins has denied wrongdoing, but noted that perceptions matter. "As with any deeply personal relationship and within every family, there are complex nuances that, if and when brought to light, due to surface appearance and the absence of context, are exceptionally difficult for others to understand,” he wrote. “And ironically, the reality is that perceptions matter. I have therefore concluded that my work here at the Farmer School will come to a close at the end of the semester, in no small part because this will complete a most unfortunate chapter in Miami’s history that has simply gone on too long."



Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Texas at Austin announced Wednesday that it has it has closed an inquiry into allegations of scientific misconduct against one of its faculty members, Mark Regnerus, over a paper he wrote that found children are generally better off if they have a married mother and father. The paper, which appeared in the journal Social Science Research, has been highly controversial. Many scholars have said that his sampling techniques resulted in a pool of research subjects that resulted in unfairly negative assessments about the children of same-sex couples -- and one writer on the issue filed a complaint of scholarly misconduct. Critics of same-sex marriage have showered praise on the study.

Under Texas rules, all such complaints are evaluated to determine whether a full-scale investigation is needed, which in this case the university said was not needed. The university said that there was no evidence of scientific misconduct, even that scholarly disagreement could not be considered misconduct.

A memo released by the university outlined the reasons for dropping the matter: "Whether the research ... possessed significant limitations or was even perhaps seriously flawed is a determination that should be left to debates that are currently underway in the academy and future research that validates or invalidates his findings. Professor Regnerus has stated that the data on which the research at issue was based will soon be made publicly available. At that time scholars can examine the data themselves and arrive at their own conclusions."


Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Mark Bertness of Brown University reveals how sport fishing is damaging marshes along Cape Cod. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 3:00am

A new survey of parents by Fidelity has found that only 31 percent with college-bound children are considering "the total cost" of college, defined as including graduating with debt, and the impact of college attended and program completed on earnings potential. Of families looking broadly at those issues, a majority are changing their plans due in part to concerns about student loan debt. More than a third are opting for less expensive colleges than they might have considered earlier.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 3:00am

A federal report released Tuesday highlights significant gaps that exist in access to and persistence in American higher education by race and gender -- but has little to say about the sizable inequities that divide Americans from low-income backgrounds from those higher up the income ladder. The statistics in the report track the progress of students by race and gender from early education through their performance in college.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 3:00am

Campus Reform, a conservative organization, has been inviting students to submit videos of liberal professors, promising $100 if the videos lead to an article for the group. Kieran Healy, a sociologist at Duke University, decided he could make money off the offer, turning himself in as a liberal, with a YouTube video offering evidence of the potentially dangerous books a liberal professor might read. Campus Reform did not respond to an e-mail from Inside Higher Ed asking if Healy would receive $100.



Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 4:25am

About 470,000 students are on waiting lists for courses at community colleges in California, according to a survey due to be released today, The Los Angeles Times reported. The survey by the state's community college system noted numerous impacts, such as the waiting lists, of a series of deep budget cuts in recent years:

  • Enrollment has dropped 17 percent, from about 2.9 million in the 2008-9 academic year to 2.4 million in 2011-12. More declines are expected this year.
  • The number of class sections decreased 24 percent from 522,727 in 2008-9 to 399,540 in 2011-12.
  • Two-thirds of community colleges in the state report that students are facing longer wait times to see counselors on academic or financial issues, with an average wait time of 12 days.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 3:00am

A profile in The Lincoln Journal Star examines the career of Steve Rozman, whom the University of Nebraska at Lincoln fired after students organized an overnight sit-in/protest in the building that housed the Reserve Officers Training Corps. Rozman -- an untenured political scientist -- supported the students, but is also credited with helping resolve the protest without violence. Amid political demands that someone be punished, the university fired him, arguing (successfully in court) that he was not being dismissed for political reasons, but because the protests disrupted a class. Rozman accepted a job in 1972 at Tougaloo College, a historically black institution in Mississippi, and said that he has been very happy there, and is not bitter about his dismissal from Nebraska. At Tougaloo, he leads the Center for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility, and he has created a volunteer income tax assistance program to help low-income taxpayers.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 3:00am

More than two dozen past chairs of Pennsylvania State University's Faculty Senate have drafted a statement that blasts the National Collegiate Athletic Association of misusing the university-commissioned investigative report into its child abuse scandal to "justify its collective punishment of the entire University community." At its first meeting of the new academic year, the university's current Faculty Senate discussed the scandal that ripped the university apart throughout much of last year, and debated a set of questions about the implications of the controversy, the NCAA penalties, and other matters.


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