Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 8, 2015

Previous gifts from the Rady Family Foundation helped to create the Rady School of Management at the University of California at San Diego. On Tuesday, the university announced a $100 million pledge from the foundation to, among other things, recruit and retain faculty members.


April 8, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Jessica Nolan, a psychologist at the University of Scranton, explores the psychology of recycling. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


April 7, 2015

Female students -- especially in their first year -- are more likely to actively participate and less likely to feel anxious if they have the chance to work in small groups that are majority female, according to a new study that will appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study was led by Nilanjana Dasgupta at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and its emphasis was on women in male-dominated fields such as engineering. Tracking 120 undergraduates, the researchers found an impact on whether the women were in female-majority small groups, and that this had a positive impact, even if the class was mostly male. The researchers suggest more attention be paid to the composition of small groups that are common for team projects and group learning in engineering and other science and technology fields.


April 7, 2015

In 2001, Texas became the first state to pass a law granting in-state tuition rates to undocumented students. This week, lawmakers are considering a bill to repeal the law, The Houston Chronicle reported. While the fate of the effort is unclear, it has strong backing from the state's Tea Party movement. According to Michael Olivas, a University of Houston law professor who tracks state policy about undocumented students, there are currently 20 states that either by statute or board policy allow these students to pay in-state rates. To date, only Wisconsin has both adopted and repealed such a policy.


April 7, 2015

Boundless, the "textbook replacement" start-up that has looked to rebound from a lawsuit it settled with it the publishing industry, has been acquired by the education company Valore, the Boston Business Journal reported. Valore also owns a used textbook market and SimpleTuition, a student loan comparison tool. Boundless's roughly 50 employees will join Valore, where founder Ariel Diaz will serve as the digital officer, according to the report.

April 7, 2015

The student services company Chegg on Monday announced its users will soon be able to subscribe to career counseling from InsideTrack. The counseling service, currently in beta, will launch next month. 

Chegg, which made a name for itself as a used textbook provider, has moved quickly to invest in student services. Among its recent moves, the company has launched a college counseling platform, acquired Internships.com and embedded its services in Blackboard's learning management system.

InsideTrack has provided career counseling to students (in addition to its much larger service providing academic and life coaching) through their colleges for about three years. But the partnership with Chegg represents its first major effort to provide services directly to students, using a multimedia platform it has built in the wake of its purchase last year of Logrado.

April 7, 2015

A student at Salisbury University, in Maryland, has just become the third this academic year to be diagnosed with tuberculosis, The Washington Post reported. The university is asking 385 students who came into contact with at least one of the students to be tested for the disease. Authorities are not sure how the students were exposed.

April 7, 2015

Kyushu University, in Japan, has ended a long taboo on discussing vivisections performed on American prisoners of war during World War II, The Japan Times reported. The experiments -- viewed by experts as extreme torture -- led to the convictions of 14 university employees in the war crimes trial that followed the war. But after that, the incidents were never discussed in public. Now, a new museum about medicine at the university includes information about the vivisections, as well as some patient records and medical devices.

April 7, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Glenn Geher, a psychologist at the State University of New York at New Paltz, discusses why you might very well share some DNA with these ancestors of ours. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


April 6, 2015

Rolling Stone on Sunday evening formally retracted a much discredited November article about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. The magazine announced its retraction in releasing a report prepared by officials of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism that Rolling Stone commissioned when numerous questions were raised about the accuracy of the article, "A Rape on Campus," which almost immediately caused a sensation.

The report outlines numerous journalistic failings by Rolling Stone -- most of which provide more detail on previously discussed actions (or failure to take actions), such as not reaching out to people who might have discredited the account.

The Columbia report strongly suggests that if those actions were taken, the magazine might have had serious doubts prior to publication. The report also notes that some University of Virginia officials strongly dispute the way their actions were portrayed in the article. Much of the public stance of U.Va. since November has been not to dispute particulars of the article, but to focus on sexual assault and sexual harassment issues, which university leaders have repeatedly said they believe to be real, regardless of the magazine article.

The statement from Rolling Stone specifically apologized to people at U.Va., including the fraternity named as the site of the alleged rape. "We would like to apologize to our readers and to all of those who were damaged by our story and the ensuing fallout, including members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and U.Va. administrators and students. Sexual assault is a serious problem on college campuses, and it is important that rape victims feel comfortable stepping forward. It saddens us to think that their willingness to do so might be diminished by our failings," the statement said.

The Columbia report, referring to the name the magazine used for the alleged victim, said that "the magazine set aside or rationalized as unnecessary essential practices of report that, if pursued, would likely have led the magazine's editors to reconsider publishing Jackie's narrative so prominently, if at all." The magazine hoped that the article "would sound an alarm about campus sexual assault and would challenge Virginia and other universities to do better," the report said. "Instead, the magazine's failure may have spread the idea that many women invent rape allegations." 

Teresa A. Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia, issued a statement on the report that said in part: “Rolling Stone’s story ‘A Rape on Campus’ did nothing to combat sexual violence, and it damaged serious efforts to address the issue. Irresponsible journalism unjustly damaged the reputations of many innocent individuals and the University of Virginia. Rolling Stone falsely accused some University of Virginia students of heinous, criminal acts, and falsely depicted others as indifferent to the suffering of their classmate. The story portrayed university staff members as manipulative and callous toward victims of sexual assault. Such false depictions reinforce the reluctance sexual assault victims already feel about reporting their experience, lest they be doubted or ignored."

Here are two articles from Inside Higher Ed with background. This article from November describes the pressure on the university to do more about sexual assault issues at a time that many on campus and elsewhere took the magazine piece at face value (although it should be noted that some observers quite early on did not). This article, from just two weeks later, describes the way many people concerned with sexual assault on campus feared, and were seeing, a backlash as the Rolling Stone article was discredited.


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