Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, July 22, 2013 - 3:00am

The recent firing of Beckie Francis as women's basketball coach at Oakland University (along with the subsequent resignation of her husband, the university president) has been somewhat mysterious on the campus. But The Detroit Free Press reported on the results of interviews with former players that Francis pushed Christianity on players, told them that they needed to be virgins and was "fixated" on body issues. The players reported that photographs were taken of them in sports bras and Spandex to chart any changes in body size. Francis declined to comment for the article.

Monday, July 22, 2013 - 3:00am

A tornado-like "significant wind event" hit Ursuline College, in Ohio, Saturday morning. The college announced that there were no injuries, but that several buildings sustained significant damage. The college was closed over the weekend to allow officials to assess the situation.

Monday, July 22, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Timothy Lytton of Albany Law School reveals how stringent selfregulation has allowed the kosher food industry to thrive over the past century. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, July 19, 2013 - 3:00am

Brandeis University is shifting to a "test flexible" admissions policy. Until now, applicants have been required to submit either SAT or ACT scores. Going ahead, applicants may continue to submit those scores, or may submit other tests or an "enhanced" academic portfolio. Other tests that could be submitted will now include Advanced Placement tests, SAT subject tests or International Baccalaureate exams. Those who do not want to submit standardized tests can submit a sample of analytical writing and an additional teacher recommendation beyond those required already. Brandeis is calling the program a pilot, and will continue to collect traditional standardized test scores -- after admitted applicant decide to enroll -- so the university can study the impact of the new policy.

Andrew Flagel, senior vice president for students and enrollment, said via e-mail that the shift made because "our experience shows that the rigor of a student’s program and overall academic performance are the best indicators of a student’s ability to take on challenges and excel academically."

 

Friday, July 19, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Catrinel Haught of Rider University explores the importance constraint plays in fostering creative thought. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Friday, July 19, 2013 - 4:10am

The number of black and Latino students entering four-year colleges significantly outpaced the number of white students over the last three years, while the six-year graduation rate of the minority students edged up slowly, the Education Trust said in a new report. "Intentionally Successful," an analysis of new data from the U.S. Education Department, found that black and Hispanic enrollment at four-year colleges rose by 8.5 and 22 percent, respectively, between 2009 and 2011, compared to a 2.7 percent rise in white enrollment.

The six-year graduation rates of those groups rose by 2 percent, 4.7 percent, and 2.1 percent, respectively, between 2009 and 2011, and the graduation rate for black students in 2011 was still 2.2 percentage points lower than it was in 2006, Education Trust found.

 

 

Friday, July 19, 2013 - 3:00am

Saint Louis University is putting aside $13.4 million for salary increases for faculty and staff in the coming school year, something its embattled president, the Rev. Lawrence Biondi, said he hoped would demonstrate the university’s recognition “of the important contributions of all our employees” in an announcement early this week. (The president and faculty have been at odds since last year, when he backed a controversial plan to require faculty to requalify for tenure every three years.)

But by midweek, Saint Louis faculty were accusing Biondi of retaliating against professors who had spoken out against him by way of forfeited raises. At Saint Louis, salary recommendations are based in part on performance, and some professors said they didn’t get what their deans had recommended to the university’s senior academic officer, Ellen Harshman. “The system is supposed to be transparent, fair and merit-based,” said Jonathan Sawday, professor of English, in a news release from the university’s American Association of University Professors chapter. “This year, in some cases, it looks like it wasn’t any of those things.”

Steve Harris, professor mathematics and computer science and AAUP chapter president, said statistical analysis showed “irrefutable” evidence that targeted faculty were “largely those – both lay and Jesuit – who opposed the president who had their salary recommendations reduced by [Rev.] Biondi.” Harris said his own dean recommended him for a 3.75 percent raise, but he only received a 1 percent raise. "The difference is $2,000," he said in an e-mail. "This is typical of the most vocal of the opponents."

In a statement to all faculty, Jane Turner, Faculty Senate president and professor of pathology, said members of the senate’s executive committee “believe that all such acts of retaliation warrant serious scrutiny and that the president should be held accountable for this action by informing the affected faculty members of the reasons supporting his decision to overrule the recommendations of the respective deans.”

In an e-mailed statement, Clayton Barry, university spokesman, said that 98 percent of all eligible full-time faculty and staff received salary increases beginning July 1, and that those publicly charging Biondi with retaliation included those who received raises. (Harris said that was true, but that the raises were less than had been recommended.) “The salary review process was the same this year as it has been for the past 30 years,” he said, “and each year some salary recommendations – faculty and staff – are increased and some are decreased during the process.”

Harshman did not immediately return a request for comment, nor did Rev. Michael D. Barber, dean of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences.

Friday, July 19, 2013 - 4:16am

The University of California has agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit brought by a surgeon at the medical school at the university's Los Angeles campus, the Los Angeles Times reported. Christian Head, a head and neck surgeon at UCLA, had accused the university of retaliating against him for filing complaints about discrimination through regular channels, and said that he had once been portrayed as a gorilla being sodomized in a slide show at an event for residents -- an incident for which the university apologized in the settlement.

Friday, July 19, 2013 - 3:00am

Accurately tracking the job placement rates and earnings of college graduates is tricky business, according to a new paper from the American Association of Community Colleges. Policy makers are pushing hard for work force performance measures, but the data are often problematic. For example, students' paths after community college might include more college or enlistment in the military, the paper said. And institutional earnings data vary widely based on students' majors and earned credentials.

Friday, July 19, 2013 - 4:20am

Expressing concerns that the Australian government's push to expand enrollments could hurt quality, officials at the University of New South Wales will require students to meet a minimum test score to enroll in any of its classes next year, The Australian reported. Fred Hilmer, the vice chancellor, told employees that the university would restrict entry to students with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank of 80 or above, the newspaper reported. Hilmer expressed concern that the quality of degrees may be slipping as universities rushed to enroll undergraduates to maximize government funding.

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