Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 10, 2014

Trustees of the California State University System warned Tuesday that, if the system doesn't get enough state funds, it could be forced to admit only transfer students, The Los Angles Times reported. As more students attend community colleges and qualify for Cal State admission, trustees said, the system is squeezed in its ability to admit freshmen, and that pressure could increase without more state funding.


September 10, 2014

Princeton University may soon take several steps to create a campus that is more inclusive to lower-income students, including featuring socioeconomic diversity in freshman orientation and diversity programming, incorporating sensitivity to socioeconomic status in residential housing assignments, and forming a standing committee of administrators to consider polices that affect the educational and social experiences of low-income and first-generation students. The steps are part of a list of recommendations issued Tuesday by a working group appointed by former President Shirley Tilghman and chaired by Valerie Smith, Princeton's undergraduate dean.

While the group found that Princeton's admission and financial aid polices "enabled students from across the socioeconomic spectrum to participate fully in the academic and residential life of the university," it also identified academic challenges that have a "disparate impact on students from lower-income backgrounds." The report noted that students from those backgrounds also faced financial constraints that shut them out of some aspects of campus life, leading them to feel less accepted at the university. The group also recommended:

  • Considering alternative systems for measuring academic performance during freshman year, such as "covering" first-year grades by providing students with complete grades but only reporting on transcripts whether they passed or failed a course.
  • Centralizing systems for monitoring students' academic difficulties.
  • Highlighting the existence of courses that address issues concerning social and economic inequality.
  • Ensuring that panels during the university's Freshman Families Weekend feature socioeconomically diverse students and address concerns most pressing to less prosperous parents.

"Some of the recommendations are already being implemented, and Dean Smith and her colleagues are pursuing some of the others," Christopher Eisgruber, Princeton's president, stated. "Some of the recommendations would require additional consideration before we could decide whether to proceed with them, and in some cases we would need to raise the necessary funds."

September 10, 2014

The Board of Regents of the University of Alaska has rescinded a $320,000 bonus for President Patrick Gamble, The News Miner reported. Gamble requested that the board do so. With many in the state criticizing the bonus, he said that it was distracting attention from more important issues.


September 10, 2014

What's the point of research if it doesn't get into the hands of practitioners? That's the idea behind Useable Knowledge, the new education research website from the Harvard Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. The website features interviews with and discussions among Harvard researchers and their co-investigators elsewhere about new research, books and best practices. The site will be updated regularly with new content relating to both K-12 and higher education. Current offerings include a discussion about remediation with Bridget Terry Long, the school's academic dean, and recommendations from Harvard's Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) about how to make the tenure and promotion process clearer and less "painful" for faculty members.

September 10, 2014

The U.S. Department of Defense has not done enough to guide the work of the contractor it used to evaluate the quality of colleges where service members enrolled using federal military education funds, the Government Accountability Office said in a report Monday. The Pentagon agreed with the agency's assessment and said it had decided not to renew its agreement with the contractor while it develops a better way of evaluating participating colleges.

September 10, 2014

Rankings week continues with today's release of Payscale's annual salary report, which rates more than 1,000 colleges on the early career (through five years post-graduation) and mid-career (through 10 years) median salaries reported by their graduates.

The 2014-15 version of the Payscale rankings -- which are controversial in some quarters of higher education for encouraging overreliance on post-graduate salary as an indicator of quality -- include for the first time data on the salary outcomes of associate degree recipients from 349 two-year institutions.

September 10, 2014

The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit accusing Kent State University of violating the Fair Housing Act by its decision not to let a student have a dog in her dormitory to deal with anxiety attacks, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported. The department filed -- and won -- a similar lawsuit against the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2011.


September 10, 2014

Students at China’s Nanchang University are protesting a new policy requiring students to clean their own dormitories, including the bathrooms, the South China Morning Post reported. The university president said the policy is intended to build students’ character, but the students say they are at the university to study, not to clean. Photos of piles of trash in the dormitories have been posted online. 

September 10, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Don Schaffner, a professor of food science at Rutgers University, reveals how hand-washing is an inexact science. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


September 9, 2014

The American Anthropological Association has created a task force to aid the organization’s executive board in considering ways in which the AAA might address issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The task force, which has been asked to provide a written report by October of 2015, has been charged with the following responsibilities:

• "Enumerate the issues embedded in the conflict between Israel and Palestine that directly affect the Association."
• "Develop principles to be used to assess whether the AAA has an interest in taking a stand on these issues. This may include providing a comprehensive and neutral overview of arguments for and against a range of specific possible stands (including no action)."
• "Apply these principles in completing an assessment of the nature and extent of AAA’s interest in taking a specific stand on these issues."
• "Assess whether the AAA has an interest in taking a specific stand on any broader but relevant issues that are raised in the context."
• "Recommend a course of action (this may include no action) for the Association.”

The seven-member task force was appointed by AAA President Monica Heller. In a press release, the association said that one criterion for membership was having no publicly identified positions on the issue. Another criterion was having relevant subject matter expertise. 

The AAA’s actions come in the wake of several other academic associations, most notably the American Studies Association, endorsing a boycott of Israeli universities.


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