Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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 21, 2014

With California facing potentially dangerous shortages of water, the University of California System has pledged a 20 percent reduction in water use by 2020. Each campus has established a three-year average baseline to work from, and will now develop plans to cut water use to meet the 20 percent goal.

 

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.  

January 20, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Friday that the State Department in conjunction with the private sector had raised an initial $3.65 million in support of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative, which aims to dramatically increase two-way student exchange between the U.S. and Latin America and the Caribbean by 2020. ExxonMobil, Santander Bank, and the Coca-Cola, Ford, and Freeport-McMoRan Cooper & Gold Foundations are the initial donors to the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund, which aims, in Kerry’s rewards, to  “help universities develop greater capacity to support study abroad” and to “challenge and reward institutions to find innovative ways to spur greater exchanges.”

The first four institutions to receive grants through the fund, also announced on Friday, are:

  • The University of Arizona, which aims to create an umbrella organization for science, technology, engineering and mathematics-focused exchanges with the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Perú, in Lima, and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, in Santiago;
  • The University of North Texas, which plans to use the funding to enable 30 undergraduate and 20 graduate students to travel to Chile to participate in field courses, research experiences and internships;
  • The University of Rhode Island, which plans to expand upon its long-standing International Engineering program in partnership with the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaiso, in Chile; and
  • Northampton Community College, which intends to develop a six-week, study abroad service learning course in collaboration with Universidad Nacional de Trujillo, in Peru, and the nonprofit organization WindAid

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