Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 18, 2014

A professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University's campus in Qatar said her new novel has been banned in the country, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar said she was told that her book about modern love in Qatar, Love Comes Later, was banned because it was “about ‘Qatar and Qataris,’” with no further elaboration. Rajakumar she had indicated that she would be willing to consider a separate edition for Qatar when she submitted the book to the Ministry of Culture for approval, but received no reply.

 

March 18, 2014

A newly released study found that four states would need to spend $8.4 billion over five years to educate the 1.4 million students who attend for-profits in those states. The report, which was prepared by the Nexus Research and Policy Center, calculated that number by looking at state and local expenditures necessary to serve those 1.4 million students in public institutions. Nexus is funded by the Apollo Group, which owns the University of Phoenix, and the John G. Sperling Foundation. Sperling is Phoenix's founder.

March 17, 2014

Pima Community Colleges faces a possible freeze on enrolling new students using veterans' educational benefits because of concerns over whether the college is complying with rules governing those benefits, The Arizona Daily Star reported. The concerns from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the last two years have been over reporting requirements on changes in the status of students using the benefits. Colleges are required to quickly report such changes, so that colleges don't continue to receive benefits who drop out or enroll in ineligible programs. Pima has been faulted for numerous instances of failing to make such reports. Lee Lambert, chancellor of Pima, said that “the college dropped the ball. It’s not acceptable."

 

March 17, 2014

A two-year-long study of Khan Academy's effect on K-12 students' math skills suggests the online lessons may help boost performance and confidence, even if the materials play only a supplemental role.

The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and developed by SRI International, involved 2,000 students in grades 5 through 10 between 2011 and 2013. The students were scattered across nine different schools, all of which used the materials from Khan Academy to varying degrees. At the end of the study, 85 percent of teachers said they thought Khan Academy had a positive impact on students' learning. Among students, 71 percent said they liked the Khan Academy lessons, while 32 percent said they liked math more as a result of using the materials.

March 17, 2014

In an unusual move for Japan, and a first for one of Japan's national universities, Kyoto University will seek advice from some university presidents outside Japan on possible candidates to become the institution's next president, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported. The university will seek recommendations from the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Cambridge and other institutions. In the past, advice was sought only from within the country.

March 17, 2014

Occidental College is among the colleges and universities being criticized for allegedly failing to adequately respond to sexual assaults, and The Los Angeles Times reported in December that the college had failed to report, as required by federal law, 27 sexual assault allegations. But on Friday, the Times published a note saying that its article had been incorrrect. "Occidental representatives approached The Times early this month to seek a correction. Documents reviewed by The Times this week show that the 27 incidents did not fall under the law's disclosure requirements for a variety of reasons," the note said. "Some were not sexual assaults as defined by the Clery Act. Rather, they involved sexual harassment, inappropriate text messages or other conduct not covered by the act. Other alleged incidents were not reported because they occurred off-campus, beyond the boundaries that Occidental determined were covered by the act. Some occurred in 2011, and the college accounted for them that year."

The Times note also announced the firing of the reporter who wrote the article and others about Occidental. The newspaper explained that "editors learned from the author of the articles, staff writer Jason Felch, that he had engaged in an inappropriate relationship with someone who was a source for the Dec. 7 story and others Felch had written about Occidental's handling of sexual assault allegations. Felch acknowledged that after the relationship ended, he continued to use the person as a source for future articles. Times Editor Davan Maharaj dismissed Felch on Friday. Maharaj said the inappropriate relationship with a source and the failure to disclose it earlier constituted 'a professional lapse of the kind that no news organization can tolerate.' "

The blog LA Observed published a statement from Felch in which he acknowledges the inappropriate relationship and the errors, but notes that, prior to publication of the article, Occidental declined to make relevant officials available to discuss the allegations on which his article was based.

 

March 17, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Brent Plate, visiting associate professor of religious studies at Hamilton College, examines how objects can have a rich personal significance. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

March 17, 2014

Some Connecticut legislators are considering changes in the state's controversial new law on remedial education, The New Haven Register reported. The law makes it very difficult for colleges to offer remedial education; instead they are supposed to provide extra academic support to students in need of remediation while they take standard college courses. But many students and college officials have raised doubts about the new system, prompting some lawmakers to consider changes.

March 17, 2014

Officials at the University of Southern Maine and Southern Oregon University have announced retrenchment plans, in response to state budget cuts, that eliminate faculty jobs and academic programs -- and that are controversial.

At the University of Southern Maine, President Theodora Kalikow on Friday announced a plan to eliminate majors in  American and New England studies, geosciences and recreational and leisure studies plus an arts and humanities major at the university's Lewiston-Auburn College. The plan would eliminate the jobs of 20-30 faculty members and 10-20 staff members. The Morning Sentinel reported that many faculty members are opposing the cuts and questioning the process by which the plan was developed.

Southern Oregon University will eliminate its physics department as part of a plan to cut 25 faculty positions, Ashland Daily Tidings reported. Officials said that they hoped to find a way to reinstate physics, linked more closely to regional hiring needs.

 

 

 

March 17, 2014

The University of Louisville last year agreed to pay six months of salary to 175 administrators and staff members who agreed to take earlier retirement. But The Courier-Journal reported that three administrators got a full year's pay. The newspaper noted that all were close to President James Ramsey and all agreed to pledge not to “disparage, demean or impugn the university or its senior leadership.” Some administrators who didn't get the extra pay are raising questions about why the agreements were needed, and why they resulted in much more pay for those three officials. Ramsey declined to comment on the agreements.

 

 

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