Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 4, 2014

A study published today in the journal mBio finds that an alternative version of an introductory laboratory course for undergraduates can significantly increase the odds that students will complete the course and take a second year of science. The alternative system -- in which students do actual science rather than replicating various experiments -- was designed with support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

February 4, 2014

Ray Cool, an assistant professor of health, physical education and recreation at Western Michigan University, will be reimbursed after his paycheck was stolen by hackers, he said Monday. The news came a day after MLive reported that the university had not reimbursed Cool for the paycheck, which was stolen in mid-December. A hacker using a computer in New Mexico accessed Cool's university account and changed the routing number for his direct deposit from a local credit union account to one in Utah. By the time university public safety detectives traced the hack, all that was left in the Utah account was $11 -- some $1,500 short of his paycheck (the amount does not reflect his actual salary; Cool has several automatic deductions, such as to a retirement account, that were apparently unaffected by the theft).

In response, the university offered Cool an advance on his next paycheck but did not reimburse him for the missing check. Cool said he was frustrated by the university's stance, as it was their system that had been breached. But on Monday, the university informed him via email that he would be "made whole" financially, he said. Going forward, Cool said, "They need to make sure the system protects faculty and staff."

Cheryl Roland, a university spokeswoman, said in an email that she did not know how the hack occurred, but suspected it was the result of an organized phishing attempt. The university's backup verification system picked up on the problem and sent emails to both Cool and a second victim, a university staff member who also has been reimbursed, telling them their bank routing numbers had been changed, she said. But neither Cool nor the second employee opened the message until after the funds had been diverted, a week later. The university has indefinitely suspended online changes to direct deposit information, Roland added.

February 3, 2014

Students and others at Memorial University, in Canada, are angry over one question on an assignment for computer science students, CBC News reported. They were asked to determine whether a rape victim, especially after being mocked online, would be likely to kill herself. Critics say that there was no need to use such an example for the computer science course. The professor did not respond to the network or Inside Higher Ed.

 

February 3, 2014

Women in Harvard University's business school have been treated inappropriately for decades, Dean Nitin Nohria told an alumni gathering last week, according to Business Insider. Nohria personally apologized for the mistreatment, saying that women at the business school were "disrespected, left out, and unloved by the school. I'm sorry on behalf of the business school." Among the pledges he made: to double (to 20 percent) the share of female protagonists in the case studies that are a key part of the M.B.A. curriculum. The apology came after an article in September in The New York Times detailed the negative experiences of many female students, and the business school's attempts (with mixed success) to promote a more hospitable environment.

February 3, 2014

Two students at Bard College who were walking off-campus were killed in a hit-and-run accident Friday night, authorities said. The driver has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

On Sunday night, three Brandeis University students were injured seriously when they were hit by a car while they were crossing a campus street, the Associated Press reported.

February 3, 2014

The Peralta Community College District has announced that it will sell off holdings in fossil fuel companies, backing the movement to divest such holdings to promote environmentalism. email out to district to find out if it has any such holdings -sj

February 3, 2014

The Obama Administration on Friday announced a new, $150 million grant competition for job-training partnerships that will feature employers, community colleges, unions and work force boards. The money will be aimed at "helping to prepare and place the long-term unemployed into good jobs," according to the administration. The rollout included a White House event Friday that community college leaders and students attended, including Cheryl Hyman, chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago.

The National Skills Coalition, a nonprofit group, participated in the event. The coalition said the sector partnership approach helps job seekers ensure  that "every dollar spent on their education goes toward training with a job waiting on the other end." Congressional Republicans, however, criticized Obama's creation of the program through "executive fiat," and noted that more than 50 federal job training and employment programs already exist.

February 3, 2014

The president of Elizabeth City State University is planning an additional 65 layoffs, up to 30 of which would come from faculty positions, to deal with financial shortfalls, the Associated Press reported. The positions of four deans would also be eliminated. The actions would follow 46 layoffs last fall.

February 3, 2014

Virginia Intermont College and Webber International University on Friday announced plans to merge. Virginia Intermont, a liberal arts college, has been struggling with enrollment. Webber, located in Florida, has focused on business education and online programs.

February 3, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Molly Bray of the University of Texas at Austin explains the connection between genetics and the ability to stick to an exercise routine. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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