Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Friday, July 15, 2016 - 4:15am

Indiana Governor Mike Pence is Donald Trump’s reported pick for vice president, although an announcement planned for today has been delayed due to the terrorist attack in Nice and the Trump campaign has not confirmed a final decision. Pence brings government experience (a decade in Congress prior to his single term as governor) and social conservative bona fides to the campaign. But he doesn’t have an especially long record of achievements in higher education.

Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers said both presidential campaigns are talking about issues like college affordability, “so the focus is on higher ed no matter who the candidates are."

Pence doesn’t have an ambitious record on higher ed as governor but Lubbers said he has been committed to workforce development in Indiana and that he would likely speak to that issue as part of the campaign.

"What we talk about in Indiana is filling employer needs and strengthening the economy,” she said. “The governor has been very committed to the relationship between K-12 and higher education, CTE, workforce and higher education. I think he speaks very comfortably about the issues of education and workforce. He will find that to be a place he navigates to naturally."

Pence and Lubbers have also worked together on “You Can. Go Back” program, which aimed to help Indiana residents with some college credit return to school and finish their degrees.


Friday, July 15, 2016 - 3:00am

President Obama this week joined the exclusive club of presidents who have also published in scholarly journals. Obama penned an article for the Journal of the American Medical Association on his signature legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, and how lawmakers should build on it. While Obama may be the first sitting president to publish in a scholarly journal, the book and journal database JSTOR on Thursday published a blog post on some other presidential publishing pursuits. The tradition goes all the way back to Thomas Jefferson, whose "A Memoir on the Discovery of Certain Bones of a Quadruped of the Clawed Kind in the Western Parts of Virginia" appeared in Transactions of the American Philosophical Society back in 1799, while he was still vice president. Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan also published scholarly articles at various points in their political careers.

Friday, July 15, 2016 - 3:00am

Seven member institutions of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities will participate in a three-year project to test adaptive courseware, the organization announced on Thursday. Participants include Arizona State University, Colorado State University, Georgia State University, Northern Arizona University, Oregon State University, Portland State University and the University of Mississippi. Each institution will receive $515,000 to test adaptive courseware in large hybrid courses with the goal of improving student outcomes. The project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Friday, July 15, 2016 - 3:00am

A study by the police department at the University of Maryland at College Park has faulted one use of pepper spray at a student party in May, defended another use of pepper spray and suggested that the university police might have avoided the use of pepper spray completely. Authorities were called to break up a graduation party largely attended by black students. While the specific incidents at the party may have justified the use of pepper spray, the report said that a larger issue is whether it was necessary. "Throughout the May 21 incident, we should have handled the situation with more diplomacy. It is my opinion that the subsequent deployment of pepper spray could have been avoided. This did not have to happen," said the report, by David B. Mitchell, director of public safety and chief of police.

A further complication is that the police responded to a report of a fight -- and that report turned out to be false.

President Wallace D. Loh issued a statement praising the investigation and the report. "The men and women of UMPD are an integral and valued part of our campus community. They are dedicated guardians, sworn to serve and protect. All of us respect and appreciate the difficult work they do, the sacrifices they make in the line of duty," he said. "We owe them our support. In turn, they recognize that community policing, not confrontational policing, is essential to building trust between the police and the policed."

Friday, July 15, 2016 - 3:00am

Corporations are growing increasingly dissatisfied with their learning management systems, and many are looking to switch in the near future, according to a study by the Brandon Hall Group, a research and advisory services firm. Nearly half of the businesses surveyed (44 percent) said they are considering changing learning management systems in the next two years, up from 38 percent last year. Many learning management system providers have expanded into the corporate market or are considering doing so, as the higher education market is often considered to be saturated. The study suggests that the corporate market presents an opportunity for growth: two-thirds of the surveyed businesses said they only have a "loosely defined learning technology strategy," while a full third said they don't have any sort of learning management system in place.

Friday, July 15, 2016 - 3:00am

City College of San Francisco reached a tentative agreement with its faculty union Thursday following a year of negotiations.

Instructors, counselors and librarians will receive at least a 6.7 percent salary increase over a three-year period. The faculty will vote on the offer in September. If accepted, the college could avoid a faculty strike. Some of the salary offer, however, is conditional on enrollment growth at the college, which has declined in the accreditation crisis with CCSF's accreditor, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

“This contract is a first step in providing faculty at City College the resources needed to rebuild the college and preserve our high-quality programs,” said AFT 2121 President Tim Killikelly.


Friday, July 15, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Suniya Luthar, foundation professor of psychology at Arizona State University, discusses when a mother might most want to take a kidless vacation. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, July 14, 2016 - 3:00am

When Temple University President Neil D. Theobald ousted Provost Hai-Lung Dai last month, Dai did not directly respond to reports that he was responsible for a deficit of $22 million in the financial aid program. Leaks, however, suggested that this was the reason he lost his job as provost.

But this week, the board said it held Theobald responsible and said it was moving to fire him. Then Wednesday, Dai released a statement about the deficit: "I would like to address the allegations concerning the $22 million deficit. This involves a program that has greatly enhanced Temple’s reputation and has benefited many students. It has also resulted in a net gain to Temple in student enrollment and tuition. I was not informed of any deficit until March of this year. As the Board of Trustees said yesterday, the responsibility for managing budgetary matters rests with the president. I was never, at any time prior to March of 2016, asked by President Theobald to manage this issue. Once this issue was brought to my attention in March of this year and prior to my unjust dismissal, I actively began to take steps to address the overexpenditure."

Dai released a second statement disputing a statement Theobald reportedly circulated Monday saying that he fired Dai in part because of an allegation of sexual harassment against him. A Temple spokesman said that the board considered that charge to be baseless but felt obliged to investigate. In his statement Thursday, Dai said Theobald appeared to be referring to a retaliation complaint filed against him after Dai disciplined the person for "performance failures." Dai said that this mischaracterization of the complaint was unfair to him and his reputation.

"It has taken me a lifetime to build a name that I and my family can be proud of," Dai said. "My good reputation for integrity, honesty and professional excellence has been built day by day, challenge by challenge over the course of 62 years. It is my most precious possession. In the last several weeks I have stood silent and watched my personal and professional reputation be shattered by lies, half-truths and malicious innuendo because I trusted that truth would emerge from slander. But after yesterday’s events, I can no longer remain silent."

Thursday, July 14, 2016 - 3:00am

The chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, is under investigation following allegations he misused public funds and used a campus fitness trainer without paying, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks was named in a whistle-blower complaint saying that he did not pay to use the campus Recreational Sports Facility and its professional services, the Times reported, citing an April 11 letter from the University of California's chief operating officer that it obtained. Dirks also allegedly used public funds to pay for travel with a recreational sports employee on non-university-related business. The travel allegations involve a January trip to India taken by the chancellor's wife -- a Berkeley associate history professor -- and a fitness trainer. A source told the newspaper the Berkeley Alumni Association paid for the trip.

The former director of the sports facility approved the free personal training after Dirks approached a trainer in 2013. That former director, Mike Weinberger, who has since retired, said he suggested free sessions as a way to improve the recreational sports department's standing against the more well-known athletic department. He compared the free training to free football game tickets that are handed out to boosters.

Weinberger also said he was not aware of a policy issue. The April 11 letter said the allegations amounted to "improper governmental activities," the Times reported.

A trainer involved in both the alleged fitness sessions and the India trip, Devin Wicks, has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation. A spokesman said Dirks would not comment until the investigation's conclusion.

The investigation comes after Dirks has faced criticism on a number of fronts. He has been under fire for his handling of sexual abuse complains and taken flak from faculty members who claim he did not consult them in planning to reorganize departments and close a $150 million budget deficit. Controversy has also surrounded Dirks for spending $700,000 to build a security fence around his residence, aiming to keep out student protestors.

Thursday, July 14, 2016 - 3:00am

Professors and staff at the University of Texas at Austin may ban guns from their private offices if they choose to do so when the state’s campus carry law takes effect next month, the Board of Regents for the university system voted Wednesday. The vote followed months of argument from professors that the new law puts them at risk, including during office hours. At the same meeting, the regents voted down a controversial proposal backed by Austin President Gregory Fenves that would have banned handguns with a loaded chamber, The Texas Tribune reported. The votes were part of campus-based discussions about how exactly to comply with the new law, which permits guns on campus, including in classrooms.


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