Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 19, 2013

A new report from the Center for American Progress proposes reforms to improve the connection between higher education and employers. Stackable credentials, competency-based education and more structured pathways for students are promising practices that can help bridge this gap, according to the report, which was written by David A. Bergeron, a former U.S. Department of Education official who is vice president for postsecondary education at the center. The report includes several recommendations for policy makers and accreditors that could encourage the faster adoption of those emerging approaches.

December 19, 2013

The Southern Illinois University at Carbondale chancellor and athletics director stated their support for the head men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson on Wednesday, after Hinson spent several minutes of his post-game press conference (see video below) raging about athletes’ poor performance in the team's 73-65 loss Tuesday night. Among other things, the coach called them "uncoachable" “mama’s boys,” called a specific player by name “PG-rated” and “absolutely awful,” said his wife could have made more baskets, and joked that “there was a sniper in the gym” and that athletes who fell on the court got “sniped.”

Hinson told USA Today Sports on Wednesday that he stood by everything he said, but apologized for singling out the one player. “Let’s get something straight,” he said. “I didn't grab anybody, I didn't hit anybody. I didn't even use profanity. I just want my kids to play harder. You've gotta be able to criticize in this society. I want what's best for my players.”

The coach also said he had the support of Athletic Director Mario Moccia. In a statement sent to Inside Higher Ed, Chancellor Rita Cheng called Hinson “a coach who cares deeply about his players and their success.”

“Last night, his passion for his team merged with his frustration for its performance, resulting in some unfortunate statements that I know he regrets,” Cheng wrote. “We always hope that all of our coaches will publicly support our teams and student athletes regardless of the score. Barry understands and agrees with this principle, and I’m confident that he will work to embody it as he continues to rebuild our team.”

Twenty months into the job, Hinson has 16 wins and 25 losses.

 

 

 

December 19, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Robert Levenson of the University of California at Berkeley explores the genetics nature of marital satisfaction. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

December 19, 2013

California's Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) wants the state's government to devise criteria for determining which for-profit institutions are most at risk for having questionable business practices. In a newly released report, the agency said state regulators should exempt most for-profits that hold regional accreditation from their reviews, freeing up resources to conduct targeted oversight. Possible factors that could be used to determine which institutions need extra scrutiny could include "school ownership, types of programs offered, track record of operation in state and performance criteria," the report said.

December 19, 2013

A Delaware State University who was suspended after being accused of rape and subsequently cleared of criminal charges is suing the institution, several administrators and his accuser under civil rights laws, the Delaware Online reported. 21-year-old Andre L. Henry is at least the seventh person to take an institution to court after being disciplined for sexual assault. Inside Higher Ed reported in August an apparently new trend of men suing under Title IX, the same federal statute that women point to when alleging campuses failed to protect them from sexual assault. This week, Bloomberg reported that the number of lawsuits had grown to a half-dozen.

December 19, 2013

Brandeis University and Penn State University at Harrisburg are ending their institutional memberships in the American Studies Association. Their moves follow the organization's vote to back the boycott of Israeli universities. The American Studies Program at Brandeis posted this statement on its website: "It is a with deep regret that we in the American Studies Program at Brandeis University have decided to discontinue our institutional affiliation with the American Studies Association.  We view the recent vote by the membership to affirm an academic boycott of Israel as a politicization of the discipline and a rebuke to the kind of open inquiry that a scholarly association should foster. We remain committed to the discipline of American studies but we can no longer support an organization that has rejected two of the core principles of American culture -- freedom of association and expression."

Simon J. Bronner, chair of American studies at Penn State Harrisburg, said via email: "The withdrawal of institutional membership by our program and others allows us to be independent of the political and ideological resolutions issued by the ASA and concentrate on building American studies scholarship with our faculty, students, and staff. There might be alternative organizations forming in the future that better represent the field of American Studies. When and if that occurs, we will re-examine our independent position. In the meantime we view this move as one intended to protect students and faculty from opprobrium as a result of the ASA's claim to represent scholars of American studies."

John F. Stephens, executive director of the American Studies Association, said via email that he had not heard of other departments leaving, but that one has joined since the boycott vote. Most of the members of the association are individuals, not institutions. He said that since the boycott vote, the association has attracted 43 new members, and that he has received letters of resignation from eight members.

 

December 19, 2013

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Wednesday approved President Obama's nomination of France A. Cordova as director of the National Science Foundation. Cordova, former president of Purdue University, awaits confirmation by the full Senate.

December 19, 2013

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday gave final approval to a compromise budget bill that sets federal funding levels for the rest of this fiscal year and next year.

Lawmakers passed the deal on a 64-36 vote and sent it to President Obama, who supports the measure and is expected to sign it into law.

Higher education advocates supported the legislation because it is expected to alleviate automatic, across-the-board cuts to research funding and campus-based student aid programs. The bill increases the overall pool of money available to those parts of the budget, but Congressional appropriators will now have less than a month to hammer out funding for individual programs and agencies.

Part of the legislation passed Wednesday immediately eliminates part of a 2010 student aid law that allowed certain not-for-profit entities eligible for no-bid contracts from the Education Department to service federal student loans. The program entitled those servicers to a minimum of 100,000 borrower accounts, for which the department pays more compared with its accounts with its other, larger loan servicers.

Critics of the program, which included Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who helped craft the budget deal, say it is wasteful of taxpayer funds to provide those loan servicers with “special treatment.”

Although Congress has now ended the program, the Education Department announced Wednesday that its existing contracts with the several dozen not-for-profit servicers would remain in effect, meaning there would be no immediate changes for the approximately 3.5 million borrowers whose loans are managed by those entities.

The department also said it would continue plans to allocate another batch of student loans to the not-for-profit servicers next year, so long as Congress allocates the agency enough money to do so. Those allocations will be based on whether the servicers receive yet-to-be-determined minimum scores on their quarterly performance evaluations.  

The Education Finance Council, the trade association representing not-for-profit servicers, said it was pleased with the department’s announcement.

“We’re glad the contracts won’t be canceled and will be working with appropriators to ensure sufficient discretionary funds are appropriated,” said Samantha DeZur, the group’s spokeswoman. 

A separate provision in the legislation passed Wednesday would cuts the amount of money that guaranty agencies receive for rehabilitating loans in the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan program. 

December 19, 2013

Ireland’s universities stand to lose €3.6 million -- the equivalent of about $4.9 million -- in government funding as punishment for giving unauthorized bonuses to presidents and senior staff, the Independent reported.The bonuses were intended to reward senior staff for taking on extra responsibilities, but they were disbursed without the requisite ministerial approval.

December 19, 2013

Officials of the University of Colorado at Boulder continue to offer new reasons for why they told Patricia Adler, a tenured sociology professor, that she could no longer teach a popular course on deviance that attracts hundreds of students every semester (although they now say she could teach again if the course undergoes a review). The objections concern a lecture on prostitution in which Adler seeks volunteers from her assistant teaching assistants to dress up as various kinds of prostitutes and to discuss (in character) their lives. First, Colorado said that the university was concerned that the activity required approval by an Institutional Review Board. After many professors (and Colorado's IRB) noted that institutional review boards don't review classroom activities, Colorado acknowledged that there was no IRB issue, and said that some students complained that they felt pressure to participate in the exercise (which Adler and many past participants denied).

Then on Wednesday at a press conference, officials said that their primary concern was that some students in the class had their photographs taken (or videos made) of the class without their consent, The Daily Camera reported. Adler told the newspaper that students know that the class -- like many classes -- is videotaped, and that no complaints have been raised. She said come participants ask for copies of the videotape. The press conference followed a closed, emergency faculty meeting called to discuss the Adler case. The Daily Camera obtained a recording of the meeting, and said that "many faculty members angrily expressed their concerns and frustrations with the situation surrounding Adler."

 

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