Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 31, 2014

This is the time of year that colleges and universities release their acceptance rates, and those of Ivy League universities get lower each year, prompting much discussion and angst. Wonkblog at The Washington Post, however, argues that there are long odds for lots of things that people want, and that elite college admissions aren't quite so unique in American society. For example, while only 8.9 percent of all applicants were admitted to Ivy League institutions, only 2.6 percent of those who applied to work at Walmart's new Washington store were hired. And Google hires one half of one percent of its applicants.

The blog's analysis: "Parents and students - particularly those from a certain socio-economic background -- tend to obsess a lot over the college admissions process. The danger, of course, is that this single-minded focus on preparing kids for college -- the extra-curriculars, test prep, admissions coaching, and the like -- is coming at the expense of prepping them for the job market hurdles that come after."

 

March 31, 2014

The online education company 2U's stock prices rose 7.54 percent after its first day of trading on Friday. The company had priced its initial public offering at $13 a share, and ended the day at $13.98. CEO Chip Paucek rang the opening bell to signal the start of trading Friday morning.

March 31, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Craig Vierra, professor and assistant chair of the University of the Pacific's College of Biological Sciences, discusses his work on a way to replicate spider silk. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

March 28, 2014

The president of Al-Quds University, an Arab university in the West Bank, announced his retirement on Wednesday, three days after hundreds of Hamas supporters held a protest on campus, Haaretz reported. In a statement, Sari Nusseibeh, Al-Quds’ president for 20 years and a leading Palestinian political moderate, cited his age and long tenure in office as his reasons for retiring and said he would stay on as a philosophy professor. 

An earlier Islamist rally on the Al-Quds campus cost the university its partnerships with Brandeis and Syracuse Universities. Brandeis suspended its partnership following a November demonstration in which protestors reportedly used the traditional Nazi salute and honored “martyred” suicide bombers. A report authored by faculty affiliated with Brandeis's International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life has called for the resumption of the partnership

March 28, 2014

The University of Iowa has turned down a request from HBO to film "Girls" on campus, The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported. Hannah Horvath, the lead fictional character in the show, has recently been accepted to Iowa's very real Writers Workshop. But details of the plot lines that would be pursued at Iowa were not available, and university officials declined to elaborate on why they turned down the request.

 

March 28, 2014

A faculty member at Lone Star College taught the wrong chemistry course for a semester, KHOU News reported. The television station told the story of an A student surprised to find she was failing introductory chemistry. But the professor eventually said that she had been teaching a more advanced course. The student said that the professor made up for the situation by raising everyone's grade. The college and professor aren't commenting, but KHOU confirmed the story with another student in the class and through an email in which a department chair said that teaching the more advanced course was not intentional.

 

March 28, 2014

The University of Konstanz, in Germany, has halted negotiations with Elsevier over a new deal on journals, Science Insider reported. Officials said that the prices being offered were simply too high to justify continued negotiations. Elsevier declined to comment.

 

March 28, 2014

Williams College has agreed to pay $86,000 to settle a lawsuit over tips it withheld, The Berkshire Eagle reported. Payments of $40 to $6,000 will go to 58 current and former waiters and bartenders who worked for the college's dining service. The suit claimed that the college was imposing a mandatory service charge, suggesting that the funds were used in place of tips, but that the funds were never given to the staff members. The settlement stipulates that the college denies wrongdoing.

 

March 28, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Neil Johnson, professor of physics at the University of Miami, discusses the patterns of children's cries and how he used that information to make some interesting conclusions. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

March 27, 2014

The movement on the part of student governments to issue resolutions supporting divestment from companies in connection with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict heated up this week, with results that are sure to be the source of continuing contention.

The University of Michigan’s Central Student Government on Wednesday rejected a resolution calling for the university to divest from companies that allegedly have supported human rights violations against Palestinians, the Ann Arbor News reported. The 25-9 vote against the resolution came after a weeklong sit-in by the resolution’s advocates.

Meanwhile, the president of the United Student Government Association at Loyola University, in Chicago, vetoed a similar divestment resolution that the association had passed by a 12-10 margin, with nine abstentions, JNS.org reported. The student government president, Pedro Guerrero, cited what he described as the undemocratic way in which the resolution was introduced and the harm it had caused to the university community, among other concerns, in a veto message.

The Loyola student government, which has already taken two votes on the resolution -- the first passed by an even wider margin of 26-0, with two abstentions -- needs a two-thirds majority to override Guerrero's veto. 

 

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