Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, June 25, 2012 - 3:00am

Higher education groups have asked the federal agencies that support the education of military service members and veterans to clarify what they expect colleges to do to comply with President Obama's April executive order. In a letter to the secretaries of education, defense and veterans affairs, the American Council on Education and the National Association of College and University Businesss Officers, on behalf of 11 other groups, said they supported the goals of the administration's “Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses and Other Family Members.” But without significantly more clarity about the administration's goals, "it is far from evident how the Agencies will construe them and what the practical ramifications will be," the groups wrote.

The associations note that the veterans affairs agency is pressing colleges to commit to complying with the principles and the executive order. "Colleges and universities want to know that if they commit to achieve a standard, they will be able to meet that standard," they write. "The Principles embody goals that can be achieved only if institutions understand the government’s expectations."

Monday, June 25, 2012 - 3:00am

Rodney Erickson, president of Pennsylvania State University, issued a statement Friday, following the conviction of Jerry Sandusky on 45 of the 48 charges against him, reaching out to the child sex-abuse victims in the case. "The legal process has spoken and we have tremendous respect for the men who came forward to tell their stories publicly. No verdict can undo the pain and suffering caused by Mr. Sandusky, but we do hope this judgment helps the victims and their families along their path to healing," said Erickson.

His statement also acknowledged that some of the victims plan to sue Penn State, and Erickson suggested that settlements are possible. "Now that the jury has spoken, the university wants to ... do its part to help victims continue their path forward. To that end, the university plans to invite victims of Mr. Sandusky’s abuse to participate in a program to facilitate the resolution of claims against the university arising out of Mr. Sandusky's conduct. The purpose of the program is simple – the university wants to provide a forum where the university can privately, expeditiously and fairly address the victims' concerns and compensate them for claims relating to the university. Counsel to the university plan to reach out to counsel to the victims of Mr. Sandusky’s abuse in the near future with additional details."

While the Sandusky trial is over (barring appeals), more fallout from the scandal is expected. Trials are pending for Tim Curley, the former athletics director, and Gary Schultz, a former vice president in charge of the campus police, on charges related to allegations that they didn't report child abuse by Sandusky.

The Philadelphia Inquirer also reported that the university has started "preparing trustees for the possibility of an indictment against former president Graham B. Spanier." Spanier has denied wrongdoing, and has been fighting with the university over access to e-mail records that he says he needs to adequately respond to various probes of the scandal.

Monday, June 25, 2012 - 4:23am

Prompted by research questioning the reliability of placement tests, Long Beach City College is making some of its placement decisions based on students' high school grades, and not on standardized tests, The Los Angeles Times reported. The move goes against the pattern at most community colleges of using placement test to identify those students who need remedial help. California's community college system is now conducting a study to see whether high school grades should be a larger part of placement decisions.

 

Monday, June 25, 2012 - 3:00am

The European Union on Thursday launched a campaign -- "Science -- It's a Girl Thing!" -- to attract more young women into science and technology fields. As part of the campaign, the EU placed a video on YouTube, and within a day withdrew the video as it faced criticism for promoting stereotypes. Radio Free Europe summed up the criticisms: "It looks one part girl-group music video and one part cosmetics commercial, with three miniskirted young ladies in heavy make-up dancing and posing with lab equipment and mathematical proofs as a male scientist watches intriguingly. A tube of lipstick forms the 'i' in 'Science.' " The EU appears to be removing copies of the video, but here's one that survives on YouTube:

 

 

 

Monday, June 25, 2012 - 4:25am

Minority college students who major in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math – earn 25 percent more than do minority students who study humanities or education, according to a study in the new issue of Research in Higher Education (abstract available here). Further, those minority students who ended up in jobs related to their STEM degrees earned at least 50 percent more than fellow students who majored in the humanities or education. The students in the study were not a random sample, but more than 1,000 Asian and Pacific Islander, Latino and black students who were scholarship applicants for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program.

"The premiums for majoring in STEM fields are huge," said Tatiana Melguizo, lead author of the study and associate professor of education at the University of Southern California. "We need to educate students that if they get a job in a STEM-related occupation, they have an even higher earning premium. Otherwise, students aren’t reaping the economic benefit of all the hard work they went through as undergrads."

Monday, June 25, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Daniel Kissling or Aarhus University explains what the number and type of palm species in tropical forests reveal about the climate of the deep past. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, June 22, 2012 - 3:00am

Low productivity and growing demand in the health care sector will lead to millions of new jobs in the next eight years, according to a study -- called Healthcare -- released Thursday by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. The study, one of several put out by the group about the current and future shape of the employment market and the implications for the education system, identified the following ways higher education will be affected by this growing sector demand:

  • A bachelor's degree will be required for 24 percent of all health care jobs in 2020, up from 21 percent in 2010. The study noted that the demand for postsecondary talent in health care trails only science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and education occupations.
  • A graduate degree will be required for 28 percent of all health care jobs -- the second-highest proportion of all occupations.
  • Between 1992 and 2008, the proportion of staff nurses with a bachelor's degree increased from 31 percent to 40 percent. This shift toward bachelor's degrees will crowd members of some minority groups out of the nursing profession: Compared to white and Asians Americans, African-American and Hispanic nurses are more likely to have a diploma or associate degree than a bachelor's degree in nursing.
  • There is a strong correlation between socioeconomic status and access to medical school.
  • The medical field remains disproportionately white and Asian, even though access is improving for members of other minority groups.
Friday, June 22, 2012 - 3:00am

A House appropriations subcommittee this week approved legislation that would cut $14 million from the budget of the National Endowment for the Humanities in the 2013 fiscal year, a reduction of 9.6 percent. The spending bill backed by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies would provide $132 million to the humanities endowment (and an equivalent amount to the National Endowment for the Arts) in 2013, down from the current $146 million. President Obama proposed that the agency receive $154.3 million in 2013.

Friday, June 22, 2012 - 3:00am

The Obama administration stepped up calls Thursday for Congress to stop student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1, even as Senate leaders said that a deal was close to prevent the increase. In remarks to college students at the White House, President Obama called on Congress to act quickly: "There’s still 10 days for Congress to do the right thing," he said. "I understand that members of both parties say they want to get this done, and there are conversations taking place, but they haven’t done it yet.  And we’ve got to keep the pressure on."  

Senate Republicans accused Obama of using the issue to score political points. After months of dueling proposals to prevent the increase, which would apply to federally subsidized student loans issued after July 1, leaders were said to be close to an agreement and that details could be released within days.

Obama said preventing the interest rate increase -- which would apply to about 7 million students -- was an economic issue. At the same time, the Education and Treasury Departments released a report calling higher education critical for increased earnings and social mobility and blaming state cuts for driving up tuition at colleges and universities. "Where we make our investments demonstrates our priorities," the report's authors wrote. "In order to ensure access to higher education, we must all do our part toward our shared responsibility to make these critical investments in today’s students and tomorrow’s workers."

Friday, June 22, 2012 - 3:00am

Gay alumni of Bob Jones University, one of the most conservative Christian colleges, have formed a support group and will be marching with students in the gay pride parade in New York City this weekend, local media in Greenville, S.C., reported. Groups of gay alumni -- almost none of whom were open about their homosexuality while in college -- have been spreading at evangelical colleges in recent years, including groups at Wheaton College in Illinois and George Fox University, but Bob Jones has a fraught history with gay students, including once threatening a gay alumnus with arrest if he visited campus.

"Bob Jones University recognizes the right of alumni to organize and support the LGBT agenda and LGBT events. We trust they will respect our right to exercise our belief in the absolute authority of God's Word," the university said in a statement to Fox Carolina.

 

 

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