Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 13, 2015

David Alexander announced Tuesday that he is stepping down as president of Northwest Nazarene University, effective at the end of this month. His statement did not explicitly reference controversy that has been intense at the institution in recent months, with faculty members and many students and alumni angry over layoffs and what is widely perceived by faculty members as the retaliatory layoff of a popular professor whose work has sometimes been criticized by Nazarene traditionalists. While Alexander apologized for the way the layoffs had been handled and pledged to reconsider them, that was not enough for many critics, who said that they had lost confidence in his leadership.

May 13, 2015

The University of Colorado at Boulder has abandoned plans to fire a tenured philosophy professor and is instead paying him $160,000 plus legal expenses to quit, The Boulder Daily Camera reported. The professor is David Barnett and he was accused of retaliating against a female graduate student who said she was sexually assaulted by a male graduate student -- a charge that Barnett has repeatedly denied. Colorado's philosophy department has faced numerous allegations (and findings) of a hostile or harassing environment against some female graduate students and professors. While there has been widespread criticism of some of the sexist conduct found in the department, many philosophers have questioned the move against Barnett and whether there was sufficient evidence to fire him.

May 13, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Heidi Newberg, an astronomer and physicist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, discusses her research on the size of the galaxy. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 12, 2015

Adjunct faculty members at Webster University have voted down a proposal to unionize and to be represented by the Service Employees International Union, St. Louis Public Radio reported. The vote was 268 against the union and 212 in favor, with 53 ballots that were challenged. Even if all challenged ballots backed the union, there would not be a majority in favor. A statement from the SEIU said that adjuncts have “experienced a setback in their quest to have their union on campus officially recognized but believe they have undoubtedly gained a voice on campus.”

May 12, 2015

Colorado will standardize how its public colleges grant credit for prior learning, The Denver Post reports. The Colorado Higher Education Commission will create a comprehensive, statewide prior-learning assessment policy, which it said will provide more consistency and transparency. However, the state's colleges will have a chance to weigh in on the standards before they are finalized, the commission said.

"One of the main goals directing this work is to ensure that PLA credits earned at one public institution will be accepted in transfer and apply to equivalent general education requirements at any receiving public institution," said the commission, "and to unify equivalently applied cut scores for major and elective credit to the greatest extent possible."

May 12, 2015

The boards of Clarkson University and the Union Graduate College have approved plans to merge the two institutions, pending approval from New York State and the colleges' accreditor. Officials hail the merger as one that combines two successful institutions, in contrast to some higher ed mergers that involve a healthy institution effectively absorbing a struggling one.

May 12, 2015

The push for open educational resources (OER) in the Virginia Community College System is expanding. The system on Monday announced a $200,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which will be used to pilot degree programs using free textbooks and other materials at 15 community colleges. The pilot is estimated to save 50,000 students about $100 each -- or more than $5 million in total -- in its first year, according to a press release.

May 12, 2015

A new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research explores the impact that Chinese graduate students had on the productivity of American professors when a change in China's policies in 1978 led to a sudden surge in the number of Chinese graduate students in the United States. The paper (abstract available here) uses databases that track the research output of American mathematics professors and that identify the graduate students working with individual American professors. The study finds that Chinese students were disproportionately likely to have Chinese-American faculty advisors, and that these advisors saw a notable increase in research productivity. Other American faculty members at these universities saw a decline in the numbers of students they mentored, and these professors saw a decline in their productivity.

 

May 12, 2015

Yale University on Monday announced a $150 million gift to renovate several historic facilities and to create a campus hub for student life with a mix of educational, cultural and social functions. The gift is from Stephen A. Schwarzman, the Blackstone founder and a Yale alumnus.

May 12, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Ryan Schact, postdoctoral research fellow at University of Utah, explains work on our reproductive goals in relation to availability. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

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