Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 8, 2014

Inside Higher Ed is today releasing a free compilation of articles -- in print-on-demand format -- about the drive to increase the number of Americans with college credentials. The articles reflect challenges faced by colleges, and some of the key strategies they are adopting. Download the booklet here.

This booklet is part of a series of such compilations that Inside Higher Ed is publishing on a range of topics.

On Monday, April 28, at 2 p.m. Eastern, Inside Higher Ed editors Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman will conduct a free webinar to talk about the issues raised in the booklet's articles. To register for the webinar, please click here.

April 8, 2014

The Project on Fair Representation, the legal team that has brought many legal challenges to the consideration of race, is looking for new plaintiffs. On Monday, the project announced that it has created three websites to invite people to indicate that they feel they have been the victims of discrimination in admissions. The sites seek plaintiffs against Harvard University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Officials with the project have in the past said that affirmative action hurts Asian applicants, an argument that appears related to the photos on the home page of each website.

April 8, 2014

Harvard University plans to sign the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment framework. The move does not force the university to take a specific action, like avoiding certain stocks or divesting from fossil fuel producers, which the university has declined to do, but obliges it to consider environmental, social and governance records to the extent they affect investments. A Harvard spokesman said the university will integrate “energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and resource scarcity, and social issues such as health and safety and employee productivity into investment analysis.” Harvard President Drew Faust also announced Monday the university will do more to confront climate change by supporting climate change research and continuing to cut greenhouse gas emissions caused by the campus.

April 8, 2014

Frances Chan, a junior at Yale University, says that she was ordered by health officials to gain weight or to risk being asked to leave, The New Haven Register reported. Chan is 5'2" and weighs 92 pounds. She says that Yale officials feared she had an eating disorder when she really just has always been thin. She ate junk food and ice cream to try to gain weight, but with little success. Yale officials said that they could not discuss her case because of federal privacy requirements.

April 8, 2014

A newly formed coalition of 20 states is trying to create joint data standards and data sharing agreements for non-degree credentials, like industry certifications. While demand is high for these credentials, data is scarce on whether students are able to meet industry-specified competencies. The Workforce Credentials Coalition, which held its first meeting at the New America Foundation on Monday, wants to change that by developing a unified data framework between colleges and employers. Community college systems in California and North Carolina are leading the work.

Also this week, the Workforce Data Quality Campaign released a new report that describes states and schools that have worked to broker data-sharing agreements with certification bodies and licensing agencies. The goal of those efforts is to improve non-degree programs and to reduce confusion about the different types of credentials.

April 8, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Hans Meltofte, senior scientist at Denmark's Aarhus University, describes the negative impact of climate change in the Arctic as "already visible" and details the serious ecological consequences that are resulting. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

April 7, 2014

Many community college leaders were angered -- and many walked out -- at Saturday's opening session of the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges when a comedian's performance offended them.

The performance, by an impersonator of President Clinton who was not introduced by name or identified in the program, featured jokes about Monica Lewinsky and digs at Hillary Clinton that many said were sexist and inappropriate at a time that she appears to be getting ready to run for president (and has consistently expressed support for community colleges and their mission).

Other attendees were most angered by a part of the skit in which the fake Bill Clinton discussed how political life changes people, showing images of George Washington at various stages in his life, ending with a photo he said was of Washington at his death, illustrating the dead president with a photo of Barbara Bush. Many presidents said that they weren't angry so much at the comic (who has apparently been doing his routine since jokes about the Clinton's use of White House bedrooms for donors reflected current events) but at the AACC itself.

Community college presidents, all seeking anonymity because they said they didn't want to offend association leaders, asked if the comic had been vetted, and why AACC leaders didn't say anything after a performance that visibly upset so many people. The fake Clinton followed a very well received speech by Jim Collins, author of Good to Great. A frequent comment heard at the meeting was that after Collins inspired them, the comic's performance degraded them.

A spokeswoman for the AACC, asked if the association planned to apologize or say anything, said that no statement was planned.

April 7, 2014

Emmanuel College has announced that it will no longer require the SAT or ACT of applicants for admission. "This test-optional policy reinforces the college's commitment to understand a student's overall academic experience, regardless of performance on a single test," said a statement from the college. "In addition, it encourages all students who have achieved success in high school to consider Emmanuel."

April 7, 2014

Occidental College has settled a complaint by students who say they were sexually harassed by the longtime athletic trainer at the college, The Los Angeles Times reported. The trainer, who could not be reached for comment, left the college last year. The agreement between Occidental and the students is confidential. But the complaint said that the trainer touched male students' groins inappropriately, and that they were not aware that the trainer has been required to attend sexual harassment training following an earlier complaint of inappropriate behavior.

 

April 7, 2014

The North-American Interfraternity Conference will commission three panels to study and recommend solutions to the issues of alcohol abuse, hazing and sexual assault. The conference said Sunday that the panels will include "8-12 members from higher education, public policy, public health, research, law and other sectors." The panels are charged with suggesting policies, programs and standards "to help eradicate these detrimental behaviors" among fraternities.

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