Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 8, 2014

A CNN investigation has found many football and basketball players at big time athletics universities may not be literate above a fifth grade level. The network approached public universities with open records requests for SAT and ACT scores of athletes on those teams. Some universities refused to comply. But of those that did, between 7 and 18 percent of football and basketball players were "reading at an elementary school level." The investigation also compared overall football and basketball player SAT and ACT scores to those of other students, finding large gaps at many institutions. Universities offered a variety of reasons for admitting athletes whose test scores would raise questions about their literacy. Some said, for example, that athletes don't take the tests that seriously, aiming only to do well enough to meet National Collegiate Athletic Association minimum requirements.

 

 

January 8, 2014

A state judge on Tuesday issued a ruling that will block about half of a controversial expansion plan by New York University, The New York Times reported. The judge ruled that New York City lacked the legal authority to turn over three parks to NYU for the projects, and that such a deal required the approval of the New York Legislature. NYU has not said if it will appeal, but said that the ruling did not affect the largest part of the building project, a tower that could be as high as 26 stories. But critics of the plan said that the ruling essentially meant that the university has to restart the entire project approval process, since earlier approval was for a full plan, not just that tower.

 

January 8, 2014

After struggling with financial problems largely attributable to declines in state funding, officials at Indiana's Ivy Tech Community College said Tuesday that they're cutting the number of regional chancellors from 14 to 11 as part of a larger consolidation effort. The combinations of Ivy Tech's East Central and Richmond regions and Columbus and Southeast regions will save Ivy Tech between $2.5 to $3 million total, said a college representative. While the number of chancellors will drop to 11, the number of regional boards of trustees will remain at 14.

Ivy Tech has wanted to bring on more advisers and full-time faculty since early last year, when officials said they might eliminate as many as 20 of the 76 campus locations, and system leaders hope these changes will help them achieve that goal.

Ivy Tech is Indiana's primary community college system and serves almost 200,000 students each year, through 31 campuses and 75 educational sites.

 

January 7, 2014

A bill introduced in the California Assembly on Monday would require all colleges in the state to notify the police or sheriff’s department any report of a violent crime, including forcible rape, willful homicide, robbery or aggravated assault, unless the student who filed the report requests otherwise. Newsweek reported that Assemblyman Mike Gatto was inspired to draft the bill because of Occidental College’s failure to report two dozen sexual assault allegations to the federal government, as required by the Clery Act, in 2010 and 2011. Gatto suggested the university was trying to avoid bad PR. While some students report their assaults to both campus and local police, many forgo the former to avoid a grueling investigation process.

California lawmakers are also conducting an audit of four state universities in light of a series of federal complaints – at Occidental, the University of Southern California and the University of California at Berkeley – filed by students alleging the campuses mishandled complaints of sexual assault.

January 7, 2014

Finding a good job after graduation has indeed become more difficult since the recession – the recession of 2001, that is. A new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Current Issues found that the trend of recent graduates working in jobs that do not require a degree began with the 2001 recession, and recent graduates are increasingly working in low-wage or part-time jobs.

Unemployment has peaked three times in the last 24 years, the report says: Following the 1990-91 recession (about 4.5 percent unemployment in 1992), the 2001 recession (about 5 percent in 2002), and the 2008 recession (7 percent in 2011). Recent graduates fared worse during those times than college graduates as a whole.

Underemployment, or working in a job that doesn't require a bachelor's degree, among recent graduates on average also peaked at around 45 percent in 1992, 2004 and 2012.

The report also notes that from 2009-11, students in some fields fared far worse than others. Unemployment in most fields hovered around 6 or 7 percent, but there was much more variation in underemployment. While 8 percent of recent liberal arts graduates were unemployed, another 52 percent didn’t need a degree for the job they held. Although their unemployment rates were lower, at 4 percent, leisure and hospitality graduates were most likely to be underemployed (63 percent). At the other end of the scale was engineering, where 5 percent were unemployed and 20 percent were underemployed.

January 7, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, James Stanford of Dartmouth College reveals why the iconic New England accent is becoming more geographically isolated. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

January 7, 2014

The Modern Language Association, criticized by some for rejecting a request by The Daily Caller to have press credentials to cover its annual meeting, has also rejected a request by the Jewish News Service. MLA officials say that they are not blocking credentials based on whether groups may be critical, but on whether they meet longstanding criteria, which require reporters to have a history of covering higher education or literary topics. Jacob Kamaras, editor in chief of the Jewish News Service, said that he was frustrated by the MLA's rejecting the request because of minimal past work on higher education by the reporter seeking the credential. He noted that the service has written extensively about higher education. "We feel that MLA's denial of our press credential serves to stifle coverage that would have been a valuable contribution to the public discourse on the convention," he said via email.

January 7, 2014

Colleges in Hawaii, North Dakota, Oregon and Utah have reached agreement on a framework designed to allow students to prove that they have reached proficiency on key general education learning outcomes that can be transferred between the institutions. The Interstate Passport, a joint project of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, seeks to make it easier for students to move seamlessly among the Western states that make up the WICHE region, and represents a potentially big step away from the credit hour, by allowing students to prove that they have mastered liberal arts and gen ed outcomes (in this first iteration, oral communication, written communication, and quantitative literacy) and to transfer them in a block.

The project builds on the learning outcomes work of the Association of American Colleges and Universities's Liberal Education and America’s Promise initiative, and the initial participating institutions are: Leeward Community College and University of Hawai‘i West Oahu, in Hawaii; Lake Region State College, North Dakota State College of Science, North Dakota State University and Valley City State University, in North Dakota; Blue Mountain Community College and Eastern Oregon University, in Oregon; and Dixie State University, Salt Lake Community College, Snow College, Southern Utah University, the University of Utah, Utah State University, Utah Valley University and Weber State University, in Utah.

January 7, 2014

Note: This article has been updated to incorporate the American Studies Association's response. The American Studies Association is facing a challenge of its tax-exempt status in the wake of a vote by the membership to endorse the boycott of Israeli universities. William A. Jacobson, a clinical professor of law at Cornell University and author of the conservative Legal Insurrection blog, wrote late yesterday that his lawyers had filed a whistle-blower complaint with the Internal Revenue Service charging that the boycott is not consistent with ASA’s purpose as a tax-exempt educational organization: “ASA’s academic boycott is anti-educational, seeking to sever the free exchange of ideas and interactions among scholars and institutions so critical to higher education,” the complaint states

In a statement released by the ASA on Tuesday, Liz Jackson, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, dismissed the challenge as "yet another instance of baseless legal bullying meant to harass and intimidate critics of Israeli policies."

More than 100 university presidents have issued statements opposing the boycott resolution, as have major higher education organizations including the American Association of University Professors, the American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. The legal challenge may be yet another deterrent to scholarly organizations that consider following in the ASA’s footsteps, as, if nothing else, it could compel the association to incur legal costs.

 

January 7, 2014

Veteran college presidents, highly ranked colleges and urban institutions have a better chance of luring big donations, according to a recent study by Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates, a consulting firm, and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

The study, released in December and presented Monday to a gathering of presidents convened by the Council of Independent Colleges, examines reported donations of $1 million or more from 2000 to 2012.

The researchers found some of the expected things. For instance, an institution that can better articulate its mission was more likely to get large donations. It also found how the haves benefit from large donations in ways that would be hard for the have-nots to do so: older colleges with higher rankings from U.S. News & World Report, more students and larger endowments tended to get larger donations.

But the study also found, to the surprise of some, that colleges in the South and the West fared better than those in the Northeast at attracting large donations. The study also highlighted some disparities. Rural institutions, for instance, received 11 percent fewer multimillion-dollar gifts than non-rural colleges.

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