Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 17, 2015

An article in The Los Angeles Times profiles a legal battle between the University of California at Los Angeles and the heirs of donors who 50 years ago gave their home and its large Japanese garden to the university. The garden is considered one of the finest of its kind in the United States. UCLA, saying it can't afford to keep up the garden, wants to sell the garden, but the heirs say this would break a promise to maintain it in perpetuity.

 

February 17, 2015

Horry-Georgetown Technical College has issued an apology for the way a faculty member handed out M&Ms at an event for children, MyHorryNews.com reported. The M&Ms were in pill containers, and labeled "happy pills." Some parents complained that this gave children the wrong idea about the real pills normally found in pill containers. A statement from the college said: "While we know this professor meant the candy to serve as a treat, the method of distribution may have confused pre-school children whose parents have taught them not to take pills from pharmaceutical bottles. The college administration deeply apologizes for the distress and confusion this action may have caused and seeks your forgiveness for our thoughtlessness."

February 17, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Ian Hawes, a University of Canterbury lecturer, discusses his work using underwater drones to map ice algae in Antarctica. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

February 16, 2015

The California Student Aid Commission has suspended state student aid for those enrolled at the 10 California campuses of the for-profit Heald College chain, The Sacramento Bee reported. The commission said that Heald had failed to submit documents required to show that it is financially stable. The move by the commission halted about $1 million in payments to Heald, a figure that could reach $14 million by June. Heald officials criticized the move and said that they had hired a new accountant. Heald officials also said the move could endanger the sale of Heald, which is part of the Corinthian Colleges group, which has faced severe financial and regulatory difficulties and has been selling off some parts of its operations. Heald has been considered one of the more attractive assets that Corinthian might sell off.

February 16, 2015

The University of Scranton's president has announced plans to end its health insurance coverage of abortion, which was covered only in cases of rape and incest and when the life of the mother was endangered by a pregnancy. A letter to the campus last week from the university's president, the Rev. Kevin P. Quinn, said that coverage of any abortion was inconsistent with the university's Roman Catholic faith. "[T]he moral teaching of the Church on abortion is unequivocal," wrote Father Quinn, citing Vatican documents on abortion. "Circumstances, 'however serious or tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being,' and '[n]o one more absolutely innocent could be imagined' than the unborn child."

His letter acknowledged the contract with the faculty union would need to be adjusted and said that he would personally meet with the union's negotiating team to discuss the issue. Michael Friedman, head of the faculty union, said that union leaders were talking to members and gathering opinions before taking a stand on the president's plans. He said he has received numerous calls and e-mail messages about the president's announcement.

 

February 16, 2015

U.S. Representative Dave Brat, a Virginia Republican, is in his first term in Congress and is best known for having defeated Eric Cantor, who at the time was the House majority leader, in the Republican primary in their district last year. Brat, an economist, taught at Randolph-Macon College before entering Congress, and he cited that experience last week during committee debate on programs to support elementary schools. Brat's theme was that education funding isn't needed.

“The greatest thinkers in Western civ were not products of education policy,” he said. “Socrates trained Plato on a rock and then Plato trained in Aristotle roughly speaking on a rock. So, huge funding is not necessary to achieve the greatest minds and the greatest intellects in history.” (In the video below, Brat's comments start at around 45:45.)

On Friday, the National Bureau of Economic Research released a study (abstract available here) on the impact of increases in state spending on public schools. The study found that significant increases can be linked not only to an increase in the number of years of education that students receive, but to higher adult wages and lower adult poverty.

 

 

 

February 16, 2015

Several conference commissioners, based in part on a push by Pac-12 presidents and chancellors, say it is time for the National Collegiate Athletic Association to consider ending the eligibility of freshmen to play basketball, CBS Sports reported. The idea is in play because of frustration of many academic leaders over the increasing practice of star basketball players taking the "one and done" approach of playing a single year in college and then dropping out to join the National Basketball Association. Freshmen were ineligible in college sports until 1972.

 

February 16, 2015

The University of Missouri at Kansas City announced Friday that Michael Song has resigned as a faculty member of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. “We have outstanding students and excellent programs that I helped create in the Bloch School but my presence has become an unnecessary distraction,” said Song in a statement released by the university. Song was a central player in providing false information to the Princeton Review for rankings that have since been declared invalid.

 

February 16, 2015

Antismoking groups and some academics are calling on the University of Zurich to retract two papers it published -- without peer review -- that were financed by Philip Morris International, The Guardian reported. The papers argued that there is no evidence that requiring cigarettes to be sold in plain packages has an impact on tobacco use. Critics are questioning the findings and the nature of the arrangement with Philip Morris, noting that the company had the right to review the material prior to publication. The researchers defend their work and say that it is being described inaccurately.

 

February 16, 2015

Seattle Pacific University, a Christian institution, has opened part of its campus for a tent city (at right) of homeless people who together move to various locations in the Seattle area. About 80 people will live in tents at Seattle Pacific for three months. The university is adding educational and service programs on the homeless so that students can both learn about the issue of homelessness and provide direct help to those who are living on campus. The tent city reflects the university's "mission to engage the culture and change the world,” said a statement from President Daniel J. Martin. “It provides our community a unique opportunity to care for and learn from our neighbor.”

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