Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 17, 2014

Pima Community Colleges faces a possible freeze on enrolling new students using veterans' educational benefits because of concerns over whether the college is complying with rules governing those benefits, The Arizona Daily Star reported. The concerns from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the last two years have been over reporting requirements on changes in the status of students using the benefits. Colleges are required to quickly report such changes, so that colleges don't continue to receive benefits who drop out or enroll in ineligible programs. Pima has been faulted for numerous instances of failing to make such reports. Lee Lambert, chancellor of Pima, said that “the college dropped the ball. It’s not acceptable."

 

March 17, 2014

A two-year-long study of Khan Academy's effect on K-12 students' math skills suggests the online lessons may help boost performance and confidence, even if the materials play only a supplemental role.

The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and developed by SRI International, involved 2,000 students in grades 5 through 10 between 2011 and 2013. The students were scattered across nine different schools, all of which used the materials from Khan Academy to varying degrees. At the end of the study, 85 percent of teachers said they thought Khan Academy had a positive impact on students' learning. Among students, 71 percent said they liked the Khan Academy lessons, while 32 percent said they liked math more as a result of using the materials.

March 17, 2014

In an unusual move for Japan, and a first for one of Japan's national universities, Kyoto University will seek advice from some university presidents outside Japan on possible candidates to become the institution's next president, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported. The university will seek recommendations from the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Cambridge and other institutions. In the past, advice was sought only from within the country.

March 17, 2014

Occidental College is among the colleges and universities being criticized for allegedly failing to adequately respond to sexual assaults, and The Los Angeles Times reported in December that the college had failed to report, as required by federal law, 27 sexual assault allegations. But on Friday, the Times published a note saying that its article had been incorrrect. "Occidental representatives approached The Times early this month to seek a correction. Documents reviewed by The Times this week show that the 27 incidents did not fall under the law's disclosure requirements for a variety of reasons," the note said. "Some were not sexual assaults as defined by the Clery Act. Rather, they involved sexual harassment, inappropriate text messages or other conduct not covered by the act. Other alleged incidents were not reported because they occurred off-campus, beyond the boundaries that Occidental determined were covered by the act. Some occurred in 2011, and the college accounted for them that year."

The Times note also announced the firing of the reporter who wrote the article and others about Occidental. The newspaper explained that "editors learned from the author of the articles, staff writer Jason Felch, that he had engaged in an inappropriate relationship with someone who was a source for the Dec. 7 story and others Felch had written about Occidental's handling of sexual assault allegations. Felch acknowledged that after the relationship ended, he continued to use the person as a source for future articles. Times Editor Davan Maharaj dismissed Felch on Friday. Maharaj said the inappropriate relationship with a source and the failure to disclose it earlier constituted 'a professional lapse of the kind that no news organization can tolerate.' "

The blog LA Observed published a statement from Felch in which he acknowledges the inappropriate relationship and the errors, but notes that, prior to publication of the article, Occidental declined to make relevant officials available to discuss the allegations on which his article was based.

 

March 17, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Brent Plate, visiting associate professor of religious studies at Hamilton College, examines how objects can have a rich personal significance. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

March 17, 2014

Some Connecticut legislators are considering changes in the state's controversial new law on remedial education, The New Haven Register reported. The law makes it very difficult for colleges to offer remedial education; instead they are supposed to provide extra academic support to students in need of remediation while they take standard college courses. But many students and college officials have raised doubts about the new system, prompting some lawmakers to consider changes.

March 17, 2014

Officials at the University of Southern Maine and Southern Oregon University have announced retrenchment plans, in response to state budget cuts, that eliminate faculty jobs and academic programs -- and that are controversial.

At the University of Southern Maine, President Theodora Kalikow on Friday announced a plan to eliminate majors in  American and New England studies, geosciences and recreational and leisure studies plus an arts and humanities major at the university's Lewiston-Auburn College. The plan would eliminate the jobs of 20-30 faculty members and 10-20 staff members. The Morning Sentinel reported that many faculty members are opposing the cuts and questioning the process by which the plan was developed.

Southern Oregon University will eliminate its physics department as part of a plan to cut 25 faculty positions, Ashland Daily Tidings reported. Officials said that they hoped to find a way to reinstate physics, linked more closely to regional hiring needs.

 

 

 

March 14, 2014

The vast majority of Native American students (86 percent) say that they want a postsecondary education, but most are not well prepared in high school to succeed in college, according to a new report from ACT. The report, "The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2013: American Indian Students," found that a majority of the Native American students who took the ACT did not meet any of the four benchmarks the organization has set (based on taking rigorous college preparatory courses in various subject areas) as indicating likely success in college.

March 14, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Russell Johnson, professor at Michigan State University, analyzes the negative consequences smartphone use may have on human psychology and physiology. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

March 14, 2014

The Association of Art Museum Directors has taken the unusual step of adopting sanctions against Randolph College and its Maier Museum of Art. The group took the action because the college recently sold a masterpiece of American painting, the 1912 work "Men of the Docks," by George Bellows, for $25.5 million in funds for the endowment. Art ethics codes require that museums sell art only to build up collections, not for general financial support for institutions. Under the sanctions, members of the art museum association will stop collaborating with the Maier Museum of Art on exhibitions, either by borrowing or lending work. The News & Advance reported that four museums are expected to cancel plans to borrow works from the Randolph museum. College officials have defended the sale as crucial to the college's long-term financial health.

 

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