Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - 3:00am

Judith Shapiro has been named the next president of the Teagle Foundation, and will succeed Richard Morrill in July. Shapiro, an anthropologist, was president of Barnard College from 1994 to 2008, and was provost of Bryn Mawr College from 1986 to 1994. She joined the Teagle board in 2009 and had been leading the search for a new president when other search committee members asked her to leave that panel so she could be considered for the position.

Teagle, which finished 2012 with its endowment valued at $144 million, is small by comparison to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation, but it has had influence in discussions of assessment, curriculum, academic rigor and teaching and learning. "I think Teagle has become quite famous for punching above its weight," Shapiro said in an interview. "I think that's because it has picked strategic things to do and has known how to use the bully pulpit in higher education." She noted that Teagle was working on assessment issues "before everyone else."

Looking ahead, she said Teagle will continue to focus grants and gather educators to discuss issues related to teaching and the curriculum. And at a time of rapid change in the use of technology and other tools, Shapiro said she wanted to keep a focus on the substance of what is taught along with teaching. "We'll be paying the right kind of attention to the content of the curriculum as well as the form," she said. "That's complicated because we can't agree on a canon, but that doesn't absolve us from making really good decisions about what's really important."

Shapiro is involved in efforts to use technology to change higher education, serving on the board of Ithaka (which promotes new models of scholarly publishing and communication) and the presidential advisory board of the University of the People (which offers free online education). She said she hoped Teagle and others would help evaluate the many innovations being introduced. "Not much attention has been given to the effectiveness of new ways or teaching, or the business plan," she said. "It's going to take a while to see how it is cost-effective and it could be good teaching."
 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 4:23am

South Carolina's attorney general has ordered Richard Routh, a professor at the University of South Carolina Upstate, to stop seeking investors for his business, Invictus University, the Associated Press reported. A cease and desist order accused Routh of selling unregistered securities. But Routh says that the business doesn't exist and that the website for the university, which he took down, was partly for a class project.

 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 3:00am

Regent's College in London has gained approval from British officials to become the second private nonprofit university in the United Kingdom, The Guardian reported. Regent's University London, as the institution will be known, will be the largest private institution in Britain, at 4,500 students. The University of Buckingham became the first private institution there, in 1983.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 4:25am

The U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights has announced that it found the South Carolina Technical College System and two of its colleges to be failing to comply with civil rights statutes requiring that websites be accessible to people with visual disabilities. The system and the colleges have agreed to make changes to come into compliance, and OCR said it would monitor progress on those changes.

 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 3:00am

Billy Donovan sure seems pretty popular as men's basketball coach at the University of Florida, so maybe he'll break the trend and won't get fired if his team loses next week. But the team his Gators beat in third round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's men's basketball tournament on Sunday, the University of Minnesota, fired its men's basketball coach, Tubby Smith, on Monday. And the team that Minnesota had beaten in the tournament's second round on Friday, the University of California at Los Angeles, fired its coach, Ben Howland, on Saturday after 10 seasons.

Smith had taken Minnesota to the NCAA tournament three times in his six years, and Howland had won the Pacific-12 Conference championship four times and made the Final Four three times in his decade as coach.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 4:30am

Harvard University on Monday sent a letter to thousands of alumni, asking them to volunteer to serve as discussion leaders for a new massive open online course based on a class they took at the university, The New York Times reported. The professor who teaches "The Ancient Greek Hero," said he was thrilled with the idea of a MOOC reaching many more students than he could in Cambridge. But Claudia Filos, editor of content and social media for the course, said that there was a need for more help with discussions. She said that, in some MOOCs, discussions "tend to run off the rails." Alumni who volunteer will be screened before taking on duties monitoring and helping to guide discussions.

 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jason Keller of Chapman University explains how organisms alter one of life’s most fundamental processes in oxygen-poor environments. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 3:00am

CourseSmart, a company that provides online course materials, said it has now partnered with 100 campus learning management systems and campus portals to provide content to students.

That, officials at the six-year-old company said, makes it the industry leader in this space. The company offers 40,000 electronic textbooks from more than 50 publishers, including Pearson and McGraw-Hill Education. Cindy Clarke, the senior vice president of marketing at CourseSmart, said the company’s online offering plugs right into different learning portals, including Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Pearson LearningStudio, Moodle and custom software created by some universities. By integrating its offerings with such portals, the company can give students at the different institutions immediate access to the course materials it sells alongside other class materials posted by instructors and used by students.

Now, the company is beta testing an analytics package, Clarke said. The goal is to produce a program to track how and if students are using materials to let educators see how engaged students are.

Simba, which analyzes publishing trends, predicts the overall market for digital course materials will account for 14 percent of the textbook market by 2014, CourseSmart said.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 3:00am

California's community colleges would be serving 600,000 additional students if the system had not absorbed $1.5 billion in budget cuts over four years, according to a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California. Since 2007, the state's 112 community colleges have been forced to substantially reduce staffing, which in turn led to a 21 percent dip in course offerings, the report found. And first-time students were the most likely to be turned away, with a 5 percent enrollment decline even as the number of California high school graduates increased by 9 percent.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 3:00am

Republican legislators in Louisiana are accusing Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, of trying to oust Jim Purcell as higher education commissioner, The Baton Rouge Advocate reported. The legislators say that Jindal is upset with Purcell because he has criticized the governor's proposed budget for next year. Officials of the Board of Regents say that they know that there are tensions between the governor and higher education commissioner, but that they are not being pressured to get rid of Purcell. One state representative told the newspaper: "Clearly, the governor would prefer to run the state like a dictatorship. He shouldn’t be in the business of trying to fire people for telling the truth."

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