Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 4:21am

State leaders are demanding explanations -- and in some cases urging retribution -- for the University of Wisconsin System's decision to quietly store hundreds of millions of dollars of budget funds in hundreds of accounts spread across its institutions, the Journal-Sentinel reported. A state audit last week found that the university system had cash reserves of $648 million, about a quarter of its annual appropriation, that the funds were distributed among many accounts across the system -- and that the funds had gone virtually unmentioned to state officials.

Wisconsin system officials acknowledged to the newspaper that they did "not draw attention" to the funds in the past, and some legislators accused university leaders of purposely misleading state officials about the system's financial standing. Some called for a two-year freeze on new state support and tuition -- and some went further, suggesting that President Kevin Reilly should consider resigning. Reilly is supposed to testify at a legislative hearing today in Madison.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 3:00am

The Minerva Project, the San Francisco-based "hybrid university" trying to appeal to top-tier students that plans to open in 2015, announced Monday that it has joined with a Nobel laureate to offer a $500,000 prize each year to a distinguished educator. Roger Kornberg, a Stanford University professor who won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, is governor of the newly created Minerva Academy, which will award the prize. The prize is "designed to recognize extraordinary advancements in teaching excellence and impact" in higher education.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 3:00am

CareerCast.com has released its annual list of the best and worst jobs, and university professor is ranked the 14th best job out there. From the data and job description, it appears that the website was evaluating tenure-track positions, not adjuncts.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 3:00am

The New York City campus being created by Cornell University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology on Monday announced a $133 million gift from Irwin and Joan Jacobs, Cornell alumni who are longtime givers to their alma mater and to the Technion. The new technology-oriented campus was the result of a competition organized by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 3:00am

The presidents of the 15 universities that compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference said Monday that they had signed a "grant of rights" that would effectively block any of them from leaving the conference for 15 years, which could slow what has been an overheated series of conference-switching moves. The agreement would mean that any institution that left the conference would forfeit to the ACC its rights to television and other media payments over that period, which would presumably block any of the institutions from leaving for a better deal from another conference. The fact that the Atlantic Coast has joined several other major conferences in signing such agreements, according to Sports Illustrated, reduces the likelihood of major league swapping, although other conference could still be raided by the ACC, Big Ten and Pacific-10 leagues.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, David Frayer of the University of Kansas reveals evidence of handedness among Neanderthals and discusses what the new data imply about their capacity for language. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 4:09am

Public universities have a long history of adapting to technological change, but they must speed up their embrace of online education -- and work together to do so -- to remain at the forefront of educating the citizens of their states and the country, argues a new report from two Washington research groups. "State U Online," from the New America Foundation and Education Sector, traces the history of public universities and of online education and suggests that major public universities have been slower than other sectors -- especially for-profit higher education -- to incorporate digital learning into their offerings. The author, Rachel Fishman of New America, argues that the institutions are best positioned to offer a high-quality, affordable digital education that is "grounded in public values," and offers a roadmap for doing so, including creating a clearinghouse where state institutions can "collaborate to provide an easy-to-search library of online courses and degrees," sharing contracts for digital platforms and online support services to meet multiple institutions' needs, and sharing credentialing beyond state borders.

Monday, April 22, 2013 - 3:00am

The American financier Stephen A. Schwarzman is creating a $300 million scholarship program that he hopes will be a Chinese counterpart to the Rhodes, The New York Times reported. The scholarship would annually support 200 students enrolling in yearlong master’s programs at Tsinghua University, in Beijing. 

It’s anticipated that 45 percent of the Schwarzman Scholars will come from the U.S., 20 percent from China, and 35 percent from other countries. The students will live in a new residential college facility, Schwarzman College, for which ground breaking is scheduled for later this year.

Schwarzman said he is personally committing $100 million and is raising the additional funds from private donors, including Bank of America, Boeing, BP, Caterpillar, Credit Suisse, and JPMorgan Chase, as well as New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s personal foundation. The Times notes that the endowment for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, which supports study at Oxford, is currently about $203 million.

Monday, April 22, 2013 - 3:00am

A group of experts on African higher education, meeting under the aegis of the African Union this month, has agreed to develop a system of quality assurance for higher education across the continent, a statement released after the meeting announced. Participants in the meeting, which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said African nations should collaborate to create the African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Council for Higher Education and a quality assurance framework to help students transfer among African universities.


Monday, April 22, 2013 - 3:00am

Officials at the Alberta College of Art and Design are investigating the killing by a student of a chicken in the cafeteria of the college, Maclean’s reported. The student said that he was completing an assignment to film a public protest, and he wanted to create the protest by cutting off a chicken’s head. Richard Brown, chair of the School of Visual Arts, said that “we do not condone the killing of animals in this way.” He added that some who were in the cafeteria weren’t bothered, but that others were “very traumatized.”


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