Higher Education Quick Takes
North Lake College held a training program last month on how to deal with a shooter if the Texas community college ever faced such a situation. But as WFAA News reported, students weren't told that a drill was going to be taking place, and many faculty members didn't read the e-mail telling them about the drill (and encouraging them to tell students). As a result, many students believed a real shooter was on the loose, and made frantic calls to 911.
Ohio State University is planning a huge and highly focused faculty hiring campaign, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Over the next decade, the university plans to add 500 top scholars in three fields: health, energy and the environment, and food production and safety. The fields were chosen as areas where the university already has research strength. When the hiring is done (at which point some existing faculty members will have retired), the university projects that the size of its tenured and tenure-track faculty ranks will be 8-10 percent larger than it is today.
The California State University System is considering a series of fees that would be "incentives" for students to move to graduation in a timely way. Students would be required to pay extra for retaking courses, or those who have accumulated so many credits that they could have graduated. But The Los Angeles Times reported that student groups say that the plan is flawed, and incorrectly assumes that students aren't working as hard as they can to finish their degrees. A survey released by a student group says that the proposed fees are likely to force students to borrow more, not help them graduate on time.
Presidents of community colleges received annual raises of roughly 4 to 6 percent per year between 2006 and 2012, according to a newly-released survey of executive compensation from the American Association of Community Colleges. The presidents' median base salary was $167,000. The association's study also found that three-quarters of respondents plan to retire within the next decade.
Lonnie Norton, director of computing at the University of Utah's College of Humanities, has been arrested for kidnapping his estranged wife, taking her to a campus building, and raping her, The Deseret News reported. His wife filed for divorce last week. A statement from the University of Utah said: "University employees who commit violent acts on university property are not eligible to remain employed at the university and will be excluded from campus. The university does not comment on individual personnel actions or ongoing investigations."
Morehouse College on Monday announced that its next president would be John S. Wilson Jr., executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Wilson is a Morehouse alumnus who held administrative positions at George Washington University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining the Obama administration. In that role, he argued that black colleges needed to move beyond a narrative about past oppression and to focus instead on the qualities of the institutions today that would appeal to students, philanthropists and government agencies. Morehouse, the alma mater of Martin Luther King Jr. and numerous leaders of the civil rights movement, has long played a crucial role in educating black men.
With the U.S. Supreme Court considering a case on the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions, studies continue to appear to shed light on the issues. One released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research (abstract available here) looked at the performance of minority students before and after the University of California system dropped the consideration of race in admissions. Graduation rates of minority students went up, but the study finds that only a small share of that improvement can be attributed to better "matches" between students and the institutions in which they enroll. More important factors included the general increase in selectivity in the system, and an apparent effort by the university campuses -- facing declines in admission of minority students -- to do more to make sure those who were admitted were retained and prepared for graduation.
Much of the post-election discussion in the last week has focused on such topics as the "ground game" to get out the vote, and the Obama and Romney campaigns' ability to reach certain voting groups. An article in The New York Times reports on an unofficial, unpaid team of prominent social scientists who advised the Obama campaign. These professors were known as the Consortium of Behavioral Scientists. They provided data-driven advice on such topics as how to counter false rumors about the president, and how to characterize Romney in advertisements.
Adjuncts at St. Joseph's University have the kinds of grievances that have led their counterparts elsewhere to seek union representation, and they may go down that road. But the non-tenure-track faculty members aren't waiting for unionization to raise issues with the administration. A series of meetings and increased activism have already led to raises and more attention for the adjuncts, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. 'We've made a lot of noise, and we are in the process of making a lot of noise, and I'm making a lot of noise myself," said Caroline Meline, an instructor in the philosophy department who saw a $280 raise in her per-course pay as a result.