Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 14, 2014

Black students at Drake University complained about a food service dinner Wednesday to mark Black History Month, The Des Moines Register reported. The meal -- which was planned by the food service provider Sodexo without consulting with black students -- featured food items such as fried chicken and collard greens. Students said that serving such food reinforced stereotypes and they added an educational program to the dinner. Sodexo issued a statement of apology: “While clearly a well-intentioned effort to celebrate African-Americans’ cultural history, the result is inappropriate and misguided."

 

February 14, 2014

California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and the University of California campuses at Berkeley and Los Angeles jointly announced a new effort Thursday to increase the number of minority Ph.D.s in science, mathematics and technology fields. The four universities will create "a unique, cross-institutional community of underrepresented minority Ph.D. students, postdoctoral scholars and faculty members in the targeted fields; developing faculty training to better recognize and help these students thrive and advance; and conducting research that includes annual surveys of Ph.D. students about what factors impact their attitudes, experiences and preparation for the future," the announcement said.

 

February 14, 2014

Faculty members have voted no confidence and students are protesting Gregory Jordan, the president of King University, in Tennessee, The Johnson City Press reported. Administrators say that Jordan is making changes to position the college in the changing environment for higher education. But professors say that he has refused to listen to their concerns, and falsely characterized critics as a marginal group.

 

February 13, 2014

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is apologizing to applicant who received an email that was supposed to be about financial aid but that incorrectly said “You are on this list because you are admitted to MIT!" The Boston Globe reported. For many (it is unclear how many) that line wasn't supposed to be there as their admissions status remained undetermined. MIT has apologized for the error, which was the result of merging two email lists.

 

February 13, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Jonathan Ruppert of York University describes the connection between shark population and reef health. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

February 13, 2014

Swiss President Didier Burkhalter this week warned that his country's scientists and university students could be hurt because of the national vote that narrowly approved immigration restrictions, Europe Online reported. The referendum breaks with Swiss consistency with some of the free flow of people provided in the European union. Burkhalter said that he was concerned that his efforts to have Switzerland join EU science funding and student exchange programs will be halted.

 

February 13, 2014

Two key Republicans on the House education committee on Wednesday criticized the Obama administration for its recent executive actions on higher education, and for President Obama's promises of more.

Representatives John Kline and Virginia Foxx said in a statement and in a letter to the president that the administration’s recent actions on higher education were obstructing legislative progress on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Kline is the chair of the House education committee and Foxx chairs the higher education subcommittee.

Obama has pledged to “take executive actions where Congress won’t” act on a range of domestic policy issues, including higher education.

“We are disappointed the administration would threaten to subvert Congress on higher education policy, especially considering the fact that the Department of Education has failed to release a comprehensive proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act,” the pair wrote. “Instead, the department continues to propose prescriptive, one-size-fits-all policies that not only ignore the realities of our nation’s diverse higher education systems, but are also strongly opposed by many higher education stakeholders.”

An Education Department spokeswoman said Wednesday that the department was in the process of producing Higher Education Act proposals. In previous speeches and State of the Union addresses, Obama has called for a number of changes to Higher Education Act, including an overhaul of the accreditation process and tying colleges’ receipt of federal aid to affordability and value metrics.

Both the House and Senate education committees are currently holding a series of hearings about renewing the higher education law. Neither committee has produced a draft of legislation. The chair of the Senate education committee, Tom Harkin, a Democrat, has said he wants to produce a bill by the end of the spring.

The letter from Kline and Foxx also praises the administration for its summit last month, in which it won a range of commitments from colleges to help low-income students attend and complete college. But it also questions “the steps the administration took to ensure the attendees represented all sectors of the higher education community.”

The event featured leaders from private and public four-year institutions, including several community colleges, but for-profit colleges were not represented. Kline and Foxx have been vocal in their support of the for-profit education sector and have sought to block the administration’s regulatory crackdown on the industry through its “gainful employment” employment rules. The latest rounds of those regulations are awaiting approval from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. 

February 13, 2014

A record share of wives are "marrying down" educationally, and have more education than do their husbands, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center. Historically, husbands were more likely than wives to have a greater level of education. In 1960, 13.5 percent of husbands had a greater educational attainment than did their wives, while only 6.9 percent of wives had a greater attainment than did their husbands. In 2012, for the first time ever, wives were more likely than husbands to have the greater educational attainment, 20.7 percent to 19.9 percent.

 

February 13, 2014

A Northwestern University student alleges in a federal lawsuit that campus officials violated Title IX by mishandling her sexual assault complaint against a professor, the Evanston Review reported. The student says Northwestern acted with “deliberate indifference and retaliation,” after a committee determined the professor should be terminated but administrators failed to fire him. The committee said the professor “engaged in unwelcome and inappropriate sexual advances” while the student, now a junior at the university, was incapacitated by alcohol.

February 13, 2014

It will take significant cooperation among state and federal policy makers, traditional educational institutions and others to improve American adults' work force and literacy skills, the American Council on Education argues in a new report. The report examines data released last year as part of Survey of Adult Skills from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which showed U.S. adults lagging behind those in many other countries on literacy and numeracy, and asserts that colleges and others will need to adopt new approaches to change that picture. "Raising the literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills proficiency for adults in the United States will be a team sport, with policy and education leaders working together across federal, state, and institutional boundaries," it says.

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