Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 30, 2014

The University of Texas System Board of Regents on Tuesday evening named Admiral William H. McRaven, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, as the sole finalist to become chancellor of the system. A Navy SEAL and an alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin, Admiral McRaven is best known as the official who designed and oversaw the operation that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa is leaving the system to return to academic medicine. Cigarroa was among the shrinking number of higher education system heads in Texas who had academic careers prior to their system positions. The UT system has seen considerable conflict in recent months between regents close to Governor Rick Perry and Bill Powers, the president of UT Austin.

McRaven's appointment won quick approval from the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, a group that has backed Powers and been harshly critical of some recent moves by some regents. "We applaud the selection of Admiral William McRaven as the next chancellor of the UT System, and commend the Board of Regents on their diligent search. McRaven is a proven leader with a strong backbone and the courage of his convictions who will stand up for what is right and in the best interests of the people of Texas. His inspirational 2014 UT Austin commencement speech gave insight into the type of leader he will be – one who respects diverse viewpoints, values collaboration and has unmatched tenacity."

 

 

July 30, 2014

A new report by the Institute of Medicine, issued Tuesday, called for an overhaul of federal financing of physician training and residency programs. The report questioned the idea that the United States needs to increase the number of physicians it trains, but said that there is a need for much more accountability. "Current financing -- provided largely through Medicare -- requires little accountability, allocates funds independent of workforce needs or educational outcomes, and offers insufficient opportunities to train physicians in the health care settings used by most Americans," said a summary of the report.

The Association of American Medical Colleges, which has been leading a campaign to expand the training of physicians, was quick to object to the report. "[T}he IOM’s proposal to radically overhaul graduate medical education (GME) and make major cuts to patient care would threaten the world’s best training programs for health professionals and jeopardize patients, particularly those who are the most medically vulnerable," a statement from the association said. "The committee’s proposals assume that in the coming decades, our health care workforce would require no expansion of the highly specialized services or physicians equipped to meet the needs of a growing and aging population, with ever greater need for both primary and specialty health care. By proposing as much as a 35 percent reduction in payments to teaching hospitals, the IOM’s recommendations will slash funding for vital care and services available almost exclusively at teaching hospitals."

 

July 30, 2014

At a time when colleges (and their athletics programs) are under heightened scrutiny about their alleged mistreatment of female students, women remain significantly underrepresented in leadership positions in college sports programs, and in some ways are losing ground, according to an annual assessment by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. The report by the University of Central Florida institute gave the National Collegiate Athletic Association and its member colleges a slightly better grade on racial diversity in 2013-14 than they received the previous year, but scored them lower on gender equity. Among other statistics, all 11 leaders of the Football Bowl Subdivision conferences were white men, and men represented more than 90 percent of the athletics directors and almost 90 percent of the associate athletics directors in Division I.

July 30, 2014

Lawyers for Abigail Fisher on Tuesday filed an appeal in her suit challenging the way the University of Texas at Austin considers race in admissions. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in a 2-1 ruling, this month rejected Fisher's challenge. Her lawyers could have appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has already considered her claims once, sending the case back to the lower court for review.

But her lawyers instead have asked the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to consider the appeal. Regardless of what happens there, most legal observers expect that the case will before too long return to the Supreme Court.

July 30, 2014

City College of San Francisco this week applied to have its accreditation status restored, a solution that could buy the college two more years to work on fixing problems the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges has identified. City College's lengthy accreditation crisis has become politicized. And many critics of the embattled commission had pushed for the college to resist the restoration option and to instead hold out to see the results of a legal challenge filed by San Francisco's city attorney. That trial is scheduled to begin October.

But the college's chancellor, Arthur Q. Tyler, wrote a letter to the commission to initiate restoration, which he said appears to be the "only remaining administrative option." Tyler said the college had "serious reservations" about the process.

July 30, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Jason Moser, a Michigan State University psychologist, is digs into the science of optimism and pessimism. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

July 29, 2014

Students who participate in the federal work-study program are more likely to graduate and be employed six years after college than their similar counterparts who don’t participate in the program, according to a new study.

Two Columbia University researchers, Judith Scott-Clayton and Veronica Minaya, examined the impact of work-study jobs on students’ academic and future employment outcomes compared to students working in non-work-study jobs and those not working at all.

They found that the work-study program had a positive academic effect – but no impact on later employment – for work-study students who planned to work during college regardless of whether they received the federal benefit (about half of all work-study students). For the other segment of work-study students – students who would not have worked without work-study – the researchers found no or a slightly negative impact on academics but positive effects on their post-college employment.

The authors of the study also found that the positive effects of the work-study program were magnified for lower-income and lower-SAT students compared with their wealthier, higher-scoring peers.

That finding, the authors write, suggest that the effectiveness of the Federal Work-Study program “might be increased by modifying the allocation formula--which currently provides disproportionate support to students at elite private institutions--to better target lower-income and lower-scoring students.”

July 29, 2014

New data from the Delta Cost Project, for the American Institutes of Research, show how much the states withdrew support from public higher education during the decade that ended in 2011. But the end of that period, students were paying half of more of the average full instructional costs of attending public-four-year institutions, an 18 to 22 percentage point increase over the course of a decade. Those increases offset or partially offset declines in state support. Institutional subsidies (state or local appropriations or other revenues) reached a low for the decade, averaging $6,000 to $7,000 per student at public four-year institutions.

 

July 29, 2014

Oregon Health and Science University on Monday announced an anonymous $100 million gift. The funds will support, among other things, the hiring 20 to 30 top scientists and their teams to improve methods to identify cancer at its earliest and most curable stages.

 

July 29, 2014

Educators at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology are concerned that 10 graduate students from Iran are losing their residency permits to stay in Norway, BBC reported. The students were told that their enrollment violated rules designed to prevent students from enrolling in programs that could help Iran's nuclear program.

 

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