Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 3:00am

When Humboldt State University announced the creation of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research (to focus on marijuana policy analysis), Jimmy Kimmel couldn't resist making fun of the university (see video below). He predicted that the university's pot expertise would soon make it "harder to get into than Yale," and even produced a satirical ad for Humboldt State.

Now the university has invited Kimmel to be its graduation speaker. A joint letter by Rollin C. Richmond, Humboldt State's president, and Ellyn Henderson, its student government president, has invited Kimmel to be the graduation speaker. The letter notes the university's recent scholarly accomplishments (having nothing to do with pot) and its beautiful northern California location -- while also applying some guilt. "[W]e figure you owe us," they wrote. "Humboldt State provided you with just over three minutes of pretty good material, which must be worth quite a bit for a nationally televised program (though we are surprised you were unable to stretch the bit to 4 minutes 20 seconds)." Further, while stressing that they enjoyed the humor, the presidents wrote that "we also felt you shortchanged Humboldt State University, portraying all of our students as pot-obsessed slackers."

No word on whether Kimmel will appear.

 

 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 3:00am

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal of a lawsuit challenging (without success) the right of the federal government to finance research involving embryonic stem cells. The Association of American Medical Colleges was among the science and research groups praising the Supreme Court for letting the research continue. "This is good news for patients," said a statement from the medical school group. "Research using hESCs [human embryonic stem cells] conducted under rigorous ethical standards continues to offer great promise in the search for cures and treatments for a variety of intractable diseases. With the legislative, regulatory, and legal barriers cleared, we hope the promise of hESC research can now be realized."

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 4:18am

The financial payoff of earning an M.B.A. appears to be shrinking. The Wall Street Journal reported that for M.B.A. graduates with up to three years of experience, median pay was $53,900 in 2012, down 4.6 percent from 2007-8. Average salaries dropped for graduates of at 62 percent of the 186 business schools examined in an analysis by the Journal and PayScale.com.

 

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 3:00am

Hamline University has suspended its head basketball coach, dismissed a player from the basketball team and suspended 14 other players following an alleged assault of a woman after the team's game against Whitworth College, The Star Tribune reported. The player who was dismissed from the team (and suspended from the university) was charged with assaulting the woman. The university forfeited a game Saturday against Gustavus Adolphus College because of all of the suspensions.

 

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 3:00am

Proposed rules issued by the Internal Revenue Service note concerns among some colleges about how to calculate when adjunct faculty members should be considered to be working close enough to full-time to be entitled to employee health insurance under the new health-care legislation. Some colleges -- worried about being required to provide health insurance -- have been cutting adjunct hours so the institutions can be sure that the adjuncts wouldn't fall under the new law. Faculty advocates have said that these moves are unfair and represent an over-reaction to the situation. (Most faculty leaders say that colleges should be paying the health insurance for these adjuncts anyway.)

The IRS proposed rules explain that "some commenters noted that educational organizations generally do not track the full hours of service of adjunct faculty, but instead compensate adjunct faculty on the basis of credit hours taught. Some comments suggested that hours of service for adjunct faculty should be determined by crediting three hours of service per week for each course credit taught. Others explained that some educational organizations determine whether an adjunct faculty member will be treated as a full-time employee by comparing the number of course credit hours taught by the adjunct faculty member to the number of credit hours taught by typical non- adjunct faculty members working in the same or a similar discipline who are considered full-time employees."

The proposed rules don't take a stand on how best to determine the hours actually worked by those who are not full-timers, and suggest that more guidance will be coming. However the IRS does state that colleges need to use "reasonable" methods for counting hours. It would "not be a reasonable method of crediting hours to fail to take into ... in the case of an instructor, such as an adjunct faculty member, to take into account only classroom or other instruction time and not other hours that are necessary to perform the employee’s duties, such as class preparation time," the document says.

 

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 4:20am

A new analysis released by the National Bureau of Economic Research (abstract available here) tracks the changes among the five leading economics journals from 1970 to 2012. Among the trends over that time span:

  • Annual submissions to the top-5 journals nearly doubled.
  • The total number of articles published declined from 400 per year to 300 per year.
  • One journal, American Economic Review, now accounts for 40 percent of publications among these five publications, up from 25 percent.
  • Papers are on average three times longer.

 

 

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 3:00am

Scientists in China are calling for reforms of the system of distributing funds for research, China Daily reported. Government officials and university administrators now make some of the decisions about which projects should be funded. Scientists want senior scholars to play more of a role, since they understand the potential of various projects seeking funding.

 

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Thomas House of the University at Warwick reveals how mathematical models are increasing our understanding of how epidemics move through a population. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 3:00am

In Wisconsin, the average faculty member at the state's technical college system earned more in 2011-12 than the average faculty member at the state's university system, according to an analysis by Gannett Wisconsin Media. The reason is "overages," pay that faculty members in the state for teaching more than the required number of courses. Overage pay averaged $12,000 per technical college faculty member, compared to $1,400 for University of Wisconsin professor. And 67 technical college instructors earned more than $50,000 in overage pay.

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of Iowa has hired a lawyer to defend two medical school officials (one of whom has since left the university) who are facing charged in Jordan, despite never having traveled there, the Associated Press reported. The two are charged with making a death threat to Malik Juweid, who was fired by the university last year and returned to his native Jordan. An Iowa spokesman said that the charges were baseless.

 

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