Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 20, 2014

University of Wyoming officials are speaking out against legislation that would require deans to meet twice a year with state legislators to discuss various issues, The Star-Tribune reported. Legislators say they want to work more closely with the university, but many academics believe that it is the job of the president and the board to lead deans -- and to communicate with politicians.

February 20, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Daniel Scott of the University of Waterloo discusses the potential inability for previous winter Olympic host cities to host the games again due to changing weather patterns. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

February 20, 2014

Some state legislator are calling for the University of Oklahoma to return a painting that was looted by the Nazis to the Jewish family that once owned it, The Oklahoman reported. Family members have sued the university, but Oklahoma has said it will not return the painting unless ordered to do so by a court. There is no dispute that the Nazis looted the painting from the family, but the university cites a 1953 court ruling in Switzerland that the family waited too long to claim the painting. “The university does not want to keep any items which it does not legitimately own,” said David Boren, president of the university. “However, the challenge to the university, as the current custodian of the painting, is to avoid setting a bad precedent that the university will automatically give away other people’s gifts to us to anyone who claims them.”

But Edie Roodman, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Oklahoma City, said, "I think it’s certainly of concern within the Jewish community that a painting that was plundered under the Nazis was not returned to its rightful owner."

The painting is "Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep," by Camille Pissarro, currently part of the collection of the university's Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.

 

February 20, 2014

Marquette University announced Wednesday that 25 non-faculty employees are being told that their jobs are being eliminated, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. With other open positions not being replaced, the total number of jobs at the university is expected to drop by 105. University officials said that they were trying to minimize spending, and to minimize tuition increases.

 

February 19, 2014

The University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., claims to be the first U.S. institution to receive a donation in the cryptocurrency bitcoin. Nicolas Cary, a 2007 graduate of the university who now serves as the CEO of the bitcoin wallet service Blockchain, on Tuesday donated 14.5 bitcoins, or about $10,000, to the university's alumni fund. 

The university couldn't just cash a check to receive the gift, however. According to a press release, Puget Sound had to create an account with the electronic payment processing service BitPay and bill Cary for $10,000. Cary, who was traveling abroad at the time, scanned a QR code to authorize the payment, which released the funds. The donation was then transferred to the university's BitPay wallet, which could then be withdrawn.

February 19, 2014

In National Labor Relations Board hearings on an unprecedented bid to form a union for college athletes Tuesday, the Northwestern University quarterback Kain Colter testified that football is "a job,"  and said athletes' year-round athletic obligations come at the expense of academics. Colter, who majored in psychology, said his hopes of entering a pre-med program were quashed because of football time demands. "You fulfill the football requirement and, if you can, you fit in academics," Colter said, according to the Associated Press. "We are brought to the university to play football."

The NLRB's decision will hinge on whether athletes can be considered employees for their institutions, rather than just students. Colter co-founded the College Athletes Players Association, which seeks lobbying power on safety and financial issues. Testimony continues through this week, but the ruling is open to appeal and a final outcome is likely far off.

Also on Tuesday, Northwestern's lawyers suggested that football helped Colter -- a 3.2-grade point average student and Goldman Sachs intern -- educationally. "Northwestern is not a football factory," said Alex Barbour, a lawyer for the university.

February 19, 2014

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, a former Princeton University physicist who has been an eloquent advocate for scientific research in Congress for 15 years, will not seek re-election when his term expires later this year, the Democrat announced Tuesday. Holt was assistant director of Princeton's Plasma Physics Laboratory before being elected to represent a central New Jersey district in 1999. He has delved into higher education issues as a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and argued -- with more personal and professional credibility than most -- for the importance of science research and education. (It is not uncommon to see bumper stickers around Princeton that read "My Congressman IS a rocket scientist.")

February 19, 2014

Bowling Green State University and its faculty union have reached an agreement regarding 40 planned job cuts for non-tenure-track faculty on one-year contracts. Under the agreement, those faculty members who have worked at Bowling Green full-time for four or more years will be offered severance packages based on salary and years of service. Some 18 faculty members are eligible. David Jackson, president of the Bowling Green State University Faculty Association, an American Association of University Professors-affiliated union representing both tenure-line faculty and adjuncts, said the association had hope to preserve all jobs but legal analysis suggested that was unlikely. He described the severance deal as making the "best out of a bad situation." In a statement, the university said: "We are pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with the Faculty Association. The decision to not renew the contracts of any of our colleagues is always difficult, and was done with the best interests of the university in mind."

February 19, 2014

Clark University, in Massachusetts, has dropped need-blind admissions, in which applicants are admitted regardless of their ability to pay, MassLive.com reported. Going ahead, the university will become "need-aware" at the end of its admissions process, meaning that once the financial aid budget has been spent, applicants who can afford to pay will be admitted. Officials said that they remained committed to admitting low-income students, but that the need-blind policy had forced Clark to make cuts in other parts of its budget, and was no longer sustainable.

February 19, 2014

America's community colleges and their students generated $809 billion of income in 2012, which was 5.4 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, according to a report by the American Association of Community Colleges released this week. That figure includes the higher wages students earned that year, the increased output of business that employed the students and related multiplier effects. The report also found that students earn $4.80 in higher future wages for every $1 they invest in their community college education.

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