Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 23, 2014

A judge has ruled a taped interview of an alleged killer conducted as part of a sociology study off-limits to Montreal police, The Globe and Mail reported. Luka Magnotta, a stripper and porn actor accused of killing and dismembering a 33-year-old Chinese student, participated in a study on the sociology of sex work conducted by two University of Ottawa professors in 2007, five years before the alleged murder took place. After reviewing a transcript of the tape, Justice Sophie Bourque of the Quebec Superior Court ruled that while the right to confidentiality in academic research is not absolute and must be weighed against other societal goals, in this case the harm to academic research done in releasing the tape would outweigh the benefit.

 

January 23, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Kathryn Medler of the State University of New York at Buffalo explains why sweets can be experienced differently by people of different weights. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

January 23, 2014

The massive open online course provider Udacity unveiled a redesigned website on Wednesday, highlighting the company's recent focus on corporate training. In an accompanying blog post, the founder Sebastian Thrun also announced the start of two new courses, developed in partnership with Cloudera and Salesforce, that "address the widening job skills gap in the U.S. and around the world."

Udacity has displayed a growing interest in corporate training, such as its inexpensive master's degree in computer science created with the Georgia Institute of Technology, after experimenting with online courses in remedial education last year. Udacity last redesigned its website in early 2013.

January 23, 2014

A group of institutions that favor a competency-based approach to student learning have offered examples of the sorts of approaches they would try in a program the U.S. Education Department is contemplating to encourage such experimentation. The department in December issued an invitation to institutions to propose ways in which a waiver of certain federal financial aid rules, as part of an "experimental sites" program, might allow them to improve student outcomes, speed time to degree, and lower costs for students.

In their submission, the institutions -- which include a mix of traditional public and private institutions, online only institutions, and community college systems -- proposed "testing new or alternative federal definitions of attendance and satisfactory academic progress," "decoupling federal financial aid from time-based measures," and allowing federal aid to flow to a degree program that mixes competency- and credit-hour-based learning, among other approaches.

The institutions are: Alverno College, Antioch University, Brandman University, Broward Community College, Capella University, Cardinal Stritch University, Charter Oak State College, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, Excelsior College, Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Lipscomb University, Northern Arizona University, Southern New Hampshire University, SUNY Empire State College, University of Maryland University College, the University of Wisconsin-Extension and Westminster College.
 

January 23, 2014

Adjuncts in the Maine Community College System, who teach about 45 percent of all courses, have won their first union contract, The Portland Press Herald reported. The contract provides for a 2 percent retroactive salary payment for those who taught in the 2012-13 academic year and again last fall, a 3 percent raise in the current base salary calculation and another 3 percent increase on July 1. The adjuncts are represented by the Maine State Employees Association, of the Service Employees International Union.

 

January 22, 2014

A Purdue University undergraduate is facing a murder charge in the shooting death Tuesday of another student at the university. The university was locked down in the early afternoon Tuesday after shots were fired in a classroom building. One student, Cody Cousins, was arrested in the death Andrew F. Boldt, both of whom were seniors in the College of Engineering, according to a university statement. The Journal and Courier of Lafayette, Ind., reported that the two men both were teaching assistants for an electrical and computer engineering professor.

January 22, 2014

Colorado State University at Pueblo is being criticized not only by faculty leaders on its own campus, but by advocates for free speech nationally over its removal of the email account of a professor who has criticized budget cuts at the university. The university removed the email account of Timothy McGettigan, a professor of sociology, after he sent out an email to students and faculty members in which he urged them to fight the cuts. His subject line was "Children of Ludlow," referring to a 1914 massacre of striking coal miners in southern Colorado. McGettigan compared the way the central system administration was treating Pueblo to the bloody way coal mine owners treated their workers 100 years ago. Although McGettigan used that violent incident as a metaphor for the way the university administrators were treating the campus, and did not call for violence, university officials invoked Columbine and Virginia Tech to justify the need to act and remove his email account.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education on Tuesday sent a letter to Pueblo Monday in which it said there was no justification for removing the email account. "FIRE is deeply concerned by the threat to freedom of expression at Colorado State University–Pueblo (CSU-Pueblo) in light of the university’s deactivation of professor Tim McGettigan’s email account after he sent an email to students and faculty criticizing the university system’s leadership," the letter from FIRE said. "By declaring McGettigan’s email a violation of university policy and labeling him a threat to campus security, CSU - Pueblo has gravely violated his rights and deeply chilled expression."

The board of the Colorado Conference of the American Association of University Professors issued a statement that said in part: "The American Association of University Professors Colorado Conference emphatically rejects Colorado State University-Pueblo President Lesley Di Mare’s reckless and damaging conflation of legitimate faculty criticism of proposed mission-compromising cuts to faculty and staff at CSU-Pueblo with the brutal and mindless slaughter of innocents at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Arapahoe High School.  While any university president is obligated to insure the physical safety of their university community, associating peaceful and legitimate dissent with the violent intentions of deranged gunmen is the very height of absurdity and reveals an appalling lack of professional judgment in a university president."

 

 

January 22, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Neil Websdale of Northern Arizona University explains efforts to predict the escalation of domestic violence. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.



 

January 22, 2014

David R. Pierce, a longtime community college administrator who led the American Association of Community Colleges during the formative decade of the 1990s, died last week. Pierce was a mathematics instructor who went on to lead North Iowa Area Community College, the Illinois Community College Board and the Virginia Community College System, before becoming president and CEO of the nation's primary association of community colleges, which he led from 1991-2000. Details on his accomplishments can be found here.

January 22, 2014

Rasmussen College on Tuesday announced it had changed its corporate status to that of a Public Benefit Corporation, which essentially means the for-profit chain will donate more employee and facility usage time to its local communities. The college will not have a different tax status, however.

Rasmussen is a mid-sized higher education chain with 24 campuses in the Midwest and Florida. Kristi Waite, its president, said the college was making the shift -- which is rare in higher education -- to send a message. She said Rasmussen would lose some money because of the change.

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