Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 8, 2014

Student loan issues may not seem the ideal topic for comedy, but John Oliver thinks otherwise. Here's a segment on his new show "Last Week Tonight" (and below that you'll see that he highlighted the coverage of a certain higher education publication close to our hearts):

 

 

September 8, 2014

The American Philological Association, founded in 1869 and the primary disciplinary association for classics scholars, on Friday announced a new name: the Society for Classical Studies. A press release quoted the association's president, Kathryn Gutzwiller of the University of Cincinnati, as saying that the group remains committed to a "philological focus." But she added that "we recognize that the term is no longer widely understood and therefore can be a barrier to communication with a broader public. Especially now, when it is so important for us to advocate for the study of classics and, indeed, of all the humanities, we must strive for clarity in the delivery of  our message.”

September 8, 2014

Leaders of Israel's universities are asking the government not to move ahead with across-the-board 2 percent cuts to their budgets (along with all other government spending) to pay for the recent military action in Gaza, The Jerusalem Post reported. The academic leaders note that the period of 2000-2009 is called "the lost decade" for higher education in the country, as budget cuts led to brain drain, and that current budgets were intended to deal with the damage that was done previously. “This decision will lead to the end of the higher education era in the State of Israel,” said a letter signed by university leaders.

 

September 8, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, David Rosenbaum, a psychologist at Pennsylvania State University, discusses "precrastination," a term he coined to describe those who jump directly into the task at hand, sometimes to their detriment. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 5, 2014

Phyllis Wise, chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is standing by her decision to block the hiring of Steven Salaita -- known for his anti-Israel tweets -- to teach in the American Indian studies program. But The News-Gazette reported that in a campus appearance Wednesday she noted "errors" in the process by which appointments are reviewed. For instance, she noted that candidates are offered jobs pending board approval, sometimes teaching before the board has assented. She also said she should have consulted with more people before making the decision.

 

September 5, 2014

For the second time this year, the U.S. Department of Education will reprocess tens of thousands of federal student aid applications because of a decimal place error, officials announced Thursday.The department said that next week it will reprocess "less than 160,000" applications where officials suspect a student may have incorrectly inserted a decimal place into the online application's income box, artificially boosting his or her wealth in the eyes of the federal formula that determines aid.

The misreported adjusted gross income, in some cases, may have led students to be denied for a Pell Grant or have their award reduced from what it should have been had they correctly filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. Some of those errors were caught in July when the department reprocessed 182,155 applications to correct a similar error in the "earned income from work" box, officials said.  Most of those applications, however, involved students appearing qualified for more aid than they should have been. 

In the current batch of reprocessing, department officials said they are targeting applications where a student's adjusted gross income is greater than $100,000 or a parent's adjusted gross income is listed above $500,000. "While meeting these criteria does not mean that an error occurred -- we actually do have students who earn more than $100,000 and parents who earn more than $500,000 -- we believe that it would be prudent for institutions to review these transactions to ensure that the financial information is accurate," the department's announcement said. 

The department on July 1 reprogrammed its online FAFSA form to automatically drop any fractional dollar amounts that are erroneously entered into the system, which accepts only whole numbers, in order to prevent the problem from recurring. 

September 5, 2014

The "ice bucket challenge" has been remarkably uncontroversial as many campuses have embraced it, but not at Ohio University. President Roderick McDavis participated and -- as many presidents have -- challenged his student body president. But Megan Marzec, president of the Student Senate, responded by making a video in which she poured fake blood on herself after demanding that the university end links to Israel and sell any stocks in companies that do business in Israel, The Athens News reported. The Student Senate has apologized for the video.

 

September 5, 2014

A student at Towson University had a special reason for missing class on Thursday: It was Beyoncé's birthday.

Ja-Niece Best tweeted a photo of an email she sent to one of her professors explaining, "On September 4, 1981 The Lord blessed us all with the Goddess that is Queen Beyoncé Knowles-Carter's birthday. Out of respect, I will not be attending class today." The email's title? "Excused Absence."

According to Buzzfeed, Best had only intended to save the message as a draft, but hit "send" by mistake.

There is no word on whether or not she ended up going to class.

September 5, 2014

Time again for our monthly Cartoon Caption Contest, in which we seek to tap into our readers' creative intelligence.

Suggest a caption for this month's cartoon. The author of the winning caption will receive an Amazon gift certificate and a copy of the cartoon signed by the artist Matthew Henry Hall.

Vote for your favorite here from among the three nominees chosen by our panel of judges for last month's cartoon.

And congratulations to Tracey May, winner of our Cartoon Caption Contest for July. May is an administrative assistant at Dalton State College's Gilmer County Center, in Georgia. Her caption for the cartoon at right -- "Are we sure combining the helminthology lab and the cafeteria to save space is a good idea?" -- earned the most votes from our readers.

September 5, 2014

Florida State University has begun a disciplinary review into an alleged sexual assault involving its star football quarterback, The New York Times reported. The December 2012 incident allegedly involving Jameis Winston has spurred intense criticism (including an April Times article) for seemingly lax procedures by local law enforcement officials and the university. A lawyer for the former student who was allegedly assaulted told the Times that Florida State officials had interviewed his client last month. A university spokeswoman said she could not discuss any specific case.

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