Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 2, 2015

Jeffrey Epstein, a financier who served jail time for procuring an underage girl for prostitution, currently finds himself the focus of lawsuits saying that he arranged for various prominent people to have sex with underage girls. An article by Reuters notes that Epstein has also donated to many colleges and backed the work of various professors. Some researchers and charity officials said that they would not accept any more money from Epstein. But others defended him. "His interest is in interesting people and interesting ideas," Lawrence Krauss, an Arizona State University physicist, told Reuters. Krauss directs a program on the origins of life -- a program that Epstein has supported. Krauss said he would feel cowardly if he turned away from Epstein, given that he doesn't know anything about the accusations.

Another professor who has received funds from Epstein and defended him was Robert Trivers, a Rutgers University biologist who received about $40,000 from Epstein to study the link between knee symmetry and sprinting ability. Trivers questioned how bad the charges are, noting that girls mature earlier than used to be the case. "By the time they're 14 or 15, they're like grown women were 60 years ago, so I don't see these acts as so heinous," he told Reuters.

Inside Higher Ed e-mailed Trivers and Rutgers for elaboration or comment, and did not hear back.

 

February 2, 2015

President Obama's ratings plan has struggled to find Republican support. He may have found some Sunday. In an interview with The New York Times, Rep. Paul Ryan, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and a leading Republican voice in Congress, voiced skepticism on Obama's plan for two years of free community college. But Ryan said Republicans could work with the administration on efforts to make college costs and results more transparent. “The idea of opening a marketplace where people see what things cost and see the results” is a good one, Ryan told the Times. "It’s a sector that’s used to having automatic rate increases without having to compete for business.”

February 2, 2015

The enrollment of black freshmen at the University of Florida dropped 50 percent between 2007 and 2013, The Gainesville Sun reported. Part of the problem, university officials said, was the policy started by then Governor Jeb Bush, a Republican, to bar the university from considering race in admissions. In more recent years, however, university officials have found recruiting strategies that are permitted in their efforts to attract black students.

 

 

February 2, 2015

Yale University will begin providing a sixth year of funding for Ph.D. students in the humanities and social sciences who need it to finish their studies. Yale is the first university to make such a guarantee. Lynn Cooley, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, said in a statement that the new arrangement “will enable students to pursue their doctoral research and gain valuable teaching experience without shortchanging either goal.” (Note: This sentence has been updated from an earlier version, which misquoted Cooley as saying "changing" instead of "shortchanging.") Yale says the stipend will take the form of a guaranteed teaching position -- an experience it says makes students more competitive on the job market -- or other assignments tailored to students’ career goals.

Cooley also said many Yale graduate programs in the humanities and social sciences typically take six years, despite the fact that the current funding package covers only five years. She said she and her colleagues still “strongly encourage students to try to finish in five years, but we know from long experience that some programs take slightly longer, so we are delighted to be able to help students in this way.” The minimum annual stipend for Ph.D. students this at Yale this year is $28,400. Most students will be eligible for sixth-year funding, which starts in the fall.

February 2, 2015

A Jewish fraternity at the University of California at Davis was defaced with swastikas this weekend, The Los Angeles Times reported. Fraternity members said that they believed their house was a target because they had spoken out in defense of Israel when the student government at Davis recently called on the University of California Board of Regents to sell stocks in companies "that aid in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and illegal settlements in Palestinian territories." But student groups pushing for divestment from Israel said it was unfair to blame their movement, and they too condemned the act of putting up the swastikas.

 

February 2, 2015

Authorities are investigating the ninth death of a student at Appalachian State University this academic year, NBC Charlotte reported. No cause has been reported, and there are no indications of foul play. Two of the deaths were in car accidents and four were suicides, but the causes of the others remain unknown.

 

February 2, 2015

With blizzards in the Midwest today and returning to New England, some colleges and universities in both regions are calling off classes.

But at the University of Wisconsin at Madison no such luck for students or professors. The university's Twitter account didn't even want people to go to sleep Sunday night thinking they might have today off. The account posed the question "Snow day tomorrow?" and supplied the answer below.

 

 

February 2, 2015

Menlo College, a private institution in California, announced Sunday that it is dropping intercollegiate football. Menlo, with only 750 students, is a small college to field a football team. It played in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and was the only member of the NAIA in California with a football program and one of only four within a 700-mile radius of the campus.

The NAIA looks to gain another member in football, however. Clarke University, in Iowa, announced that it is starting up a program. Clarke, a former women's college where 70 percent of students are women, hopes to attract more male students with football.

 

February 2, 2015

On a new edition of This Week, Inside Higher Ed's free news podcast, Elena Silva of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Western Washington University's Johann Neem join Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik and This Week moderator Casey Green to discuss the foundation's new report on the continued viability of the credit hour in higher education. In our second segment, Keith Hoeller of the Washington Part-Time Faculty Association and Alan Trevithick, a part-time instructor at Fordham University, Westchester Community College and LaGuardia Community College, consider the implications of a possible national walkout of adjunct instructors. Sign up here to be notified of new This Week podcasts.

 

February 2, 2015

Many testing centers in the Northeast canceled the Jan. 24 SAT because of a blizzard in the region, and the College Board rescheduled those test takers for Feb. 7. One problem is that some of those test takers were already spoken for on Feb. 7 -- as that's a national ACT test day. Some high schools and other testing centers also now have to manage both tests on the same day, something they typically avoid. ACT announced Friday that it would waive the normal rescheduling fee for anyone who needs to change the dates to avoid taking both tests the same day. A spokesman for the College Board said that it already waives the fee in cases like this, where students have been assigned a date rather than selecting one.

 

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