Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

Newt Gingrich, trying to upset Mitt Romney in Florida's Republican presidential primary, devoted time during a recent speech to students and their difficulty paying for college. The Washington Post reported that he blamed coddled students living in luxury dormitories. "Students take fewer classes per semester. They take more years to get through. Why? Because they have free money," Gingrich said. "I would tell students: 'Get through as quick as you can. Borrow as little as you can. Have a part-time job.' But that’s very different from the culture that has grown up in the last 20 years.” Gingrich also praised the College of the Ozarks, a work college that he has hailed as a model for higher education.

But for all of Gingrich's demand that college students work their way through college, the Post dug out an article in Vanity Fair in 1995 that said Gingrich didn't work to pay for his own college education, relying on his first wife to work, and family members to provide cash. The article quoted Gingrich's stepmother remembering Gingrich saying: "I do not want to go to work. I want all my time for my studies."

Gingrich did not respond to the Post's request for comment.

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

Students and professors at California State University at Northridge are frustrated by strict limits on enrollments this semester, with most students barred from enrolling in more than 15 credits and most faculty members barred from letting any of their courses exceed enrollment limits, The Los Angeles Times reported. The reason for the tight enforcement of such rules? Northridge enrolled several thousand students beyond its cap (and beyond funding levels provided by the state) in the fall, and so the system is threatening to withhold $7 million if the campus doesn't bring enrollment down this semester.

 

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

The Princeton University Art Museum has returned six works of art to Italy, in the latest of a series of agreements between Italian authorities and museums over archaeological finds that were removed from Italy under questionable circumstances. The agreement specifically stipulates that Princeton acted in good faith and owned the works at the time of transfer. In many of the disputes, museums purchased or were given works that appeared to be legitimate for sale or donation. The objects returned are: a pair of female statuettes; four fragments of a red-figure calyx krater; fragments of an architectural relief; a pithos in white-on-red style; and a group of fragmentary architectural revetments.

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

With longstanding tensions rising between the wealthiest and most powerful programs and all other Division I members, the National Collegiate Athletic Association plans to study how its top division is governed, with an eye toward further separating the biggest programs from others, President Mark Emmert told USA Today. The biggest and richest programs have long dominated NCAA decision making, often getting their way on major decisions because of a veiled threat that they might break away from the rest and take their value to television networks with them. But the major programs' disproportionate power was memorialized when Division I abandoned its one-institution, one-vote form of democratic governance in favor of a representative system more than a decade ago.

Tensions have flared at various times when the larger and richer programs have sought rules changes that smaller programs either cannot afford or do not support, and at this month's NCAA convention, opponents blocked adoption of proposals to increase the value and length of athletics scholarships. In comments to USA Today Sunday, Emmert said the new panel would examine how Division I makes decisions, and unidentified officials cited by the newspaper said the association would consider some further subdivision of members in how they govern their programs, but not in who they compete against.

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

Tih-Fen Ting, professor in environmental studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield, resigned as chair of the Senate at the campus on Friday, after being linked to an e-mail scandal, The News-Gazette reported. Ting was found to have sent numerous e-mail messages from faculty leaders (which they assumed were not being shared with administrators) with the chief of staff of the president of the university system. That chief of staff has since resigned amid a report suggesting she sent anonymous e-mail messages to faculty leaders, seeking to influence their stands on various issues.

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Nicholas Leadbeater of the University of Connecticut explains why artificial sweeteners can be thousands of times sweeter than real sugar. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 4:30am

"Undergrads," a new online video project by James Franco, is not going over well at the University of Southern California, where it is set, The Los Angeles Times reported. Shots of hard drinking, hook-up culture and plenty of apparently trouble-free wealthy students are stereotypical, many students and university officials say. The university has been pushing hard to be a more serious academic institution, and "Undergrads" is seen by many as outdated at best. Many of the comments students have been posting at The Daily Trojan, the student newspaper, are also critical, but some students are writing that the video is an accurate portrayal of Greek culture at the university.

 

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

Sophia Stockton, a junior at Mid-America Nazarene University, in Kansas, got a surprise when her textbook Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, Perspectives and Issues arrived from the supplier she located through Amazon.com for a spring course on terrorism. As WPTV reported, when she opened the used textbook, a bag of white powder fell out. She thought it might be anthrax, and so took it to the police. The substance turned out to be cocaine.

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

For people from disadvantaged backgrounds, going to college decreases the odds that they will get married, according to a study being published in February's issue of The Journal of Family and Marriage. College attendance decreases the odds of marriage by 38 percent for men and 22 percent for women among those who are the least advantaged, the study found. For those in the highest category of advantage, going to colleges increases men's marriage odds by 31 percent and women's odds by 8 percent. Kelly Musick, a sociologist at Cornell University who did the research, along with scholars at the University of California at Los Angeles, said that the study raises questions about the idea that "college is the great equalizer." What holds true for the labor market, she said, may not hold true for the marriage market.

 

 

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

Vassar College is apologizing for an incorrect notification of some early decision applicants that they had been admitted when in fact they were not, The New York Times reported. A test letter indicating acceptance was viewed Friday by 122 applicants -- only 46 of whom had in fact been admitted. The letter was supposed to have been replaced by another for the 76 who were not admitted.

 

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