Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - 3:00am

Several former college football players from six institutions filed class action lawsuits on Tuesday alleging that their universities, athletic conferences and the National Collegiate Athletic Association were negligent in their handling of the players' head injuries. The athletes who filed the lawsuits all played college football prior to 2010, when the NCAA began requiring its members to have concussion protocols. The lawsuits were filed by former football players for Auburn, Pennsylvania State and Vanderbilt Universities and the Universities of Georgia, Oregon and Utah.

The NCAA was first sued over concussions in 2011. That lawsuit was then joined by several others, becoming a class action. Earlier this year, a judge approved a settlement in the case that includes the NCAA creating new safety protocols and providing $70 million for medical screenings for former college athletes. That settlement included no payments for players already suffering from head injuries, however.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - 3:00am

A new report from the Century Foundation considers the issue of "identity threat" and the way many low-income and minority students with academic talent may feel unwelcome or stereotyped in college. The report suggests that students face bias from some professors based on stereotypes and that this creates "stereotype threat" in which students may come to doubt their own abilities. Students pay attention to many cues on whether the environment is welcoming, and whether people on campus have confidence in their abilities, the report says.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - 3:00am

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday called for the development of systems of philosophy and social sciences “with Chinese characteristics,” Xinhua, a state media outlet, reported. According to the report, the president, speaking at a symposium, “called for integrating Marxism, Chinese traditions and other schools in philosophy and the social sciences.” He also called for philosophers and social scientists to focus on issues relevant to contemporary China.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Brian Primack, professor of medicine, pediatrics, and clinical and translational science at the University of Pittsburgh, asks whether being addicted to social media makes you more depressed. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - 3:00am

Burlington College announced Monday that it is shutting down its operations, The Burlington Free Press reported. Operations will end May 27. The college has been told that its primary lender will not extend a line of credit and that the college’s accreditor, which placed the college on probation, was not expected to lift the probation. Burlington is a small college focused on the liberal arts and progressive styles of education. Coralee Holm, dean of operations, told the newspaper that the college could not recover from the “crushing weight of the debt” incurred after the college in 2010 purchased 32 acres of lakefront property from the Archdiocese of Burlington.

Some supporters of the college blamed the inability to pay for that purchase on Jane Sanders, president at the time. She resigned in 2011 and has been in the news more recently as the wife of Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Sanders declined to comment to Inside Higher Ed for a 2014 article on the college’s sinking finances, but told Vermont publications that she left the college with a plan to pay off the debt through increased enrollment. Those increases did not materialize.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - 3:00am

The U.S. Education Department on Monday announced that it had chosen 44 colleges for an experiment in which they will be able to give Pell Grants to high school students participating in dual enrollment programs. The announcement carries out the department's plan (another in a string of efforts to use its "experimental sites" authority) to allow as many as 10,000 high school students to use federal postsecondary student aid funds to take college-level courses, which is generally prohibited by federal law.

The institutions chosen to participate, about 80 percent of which are community colleges, have agreed to use promising practices for ensuring the students' success, such as creating clear curricular pathways, building linkages to careers and ensuring strong advising.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - 4:17am

There isn't a Tony Award for the best introduction of a commencement speaker. But after Vincent Price, provost of the University of Pennsylvania, introduced Lin-Manuel Miranda at Penn's commencement Monday, perhaps there should be. Price, not normally known for his rap, used rhymes and wordplay to welcome Miranda -- creator and star of Hamilton -- to the stage.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - 4:23am

In the fall, a student protest movement at the University of Missouri at Columbia attracted national attention when it camped out on campus to draw attention to racial issues. The university didn't attempt to remove the protest.

Now the university is considering a plan to start enforcing a rule, dating back to 1949, that bars students from creating a "bedroom or living room" on campus grounds, The Kansas City Star reported. The rule wasn't created to block protests, but officials may now enforce it to prevent future encampments.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - 3:00am

The publishing giant Elsevier has acquired the Social Science Research Network, an online open-access repository for research. Elsevier said in the announcement that it plans to develop SSRN alongside Mendeley, the company's own academic social network. Neither SSRN's user policies nor its leadership will change, Elsevier said. It will still be free for users to submit their papers and download others. Elsevier did not disclose how much it paid to acquire SSRN.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - 3:00am

Inside Higher Ed is pleased to release its latest print-on-demand compilation of articles, with the topic “Recruitment, Diversity and Success.” You may download the free booklet here. And you may sign up here for a free webinar on the themes of the booklet on Wednesday, June 15, at 2 p.m. Eastern.

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