Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 25, 2013

Applications to American M.B.A. programs are again on the rise, according to a report by the Graduate Management Admission Council. Of full-time programs, 52 percent are reporting an application increase in the last year -- the first time since 2009 that a majority of programs were reporting increases. The increases appear to depend on foreign applicants: 56 percent of programs reported an increase from abroad, while 59 percent reported declines in applicants from the U.S.

September 25, 2013

The National Labor Relations Board has agreed to review Pacific Lutheran University's request to that it reconsider a regional board official's recent decision to allow the university's adjunct faculty to vote on forming a union. Pacific Lutheran objected on a number of grounds, including its religious nature. The national NRLB issued a brief statement that said: "The employer’s request for review of the regional director’s decision and direction of election raises substantial issues warranting review solely with respect to the assertion of jurisdiction over the employer and the determination that certain faculty members are not managerial employees." The local Service Employees International Union, with which the adjunct faculty union is affiliated, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

September 25, 2013

The federal government should prod states to better measure the performance of college teacher education programs and redistribute federal funds for the programs to allow a small number of states each year to redesign their training approaches, the Education Trust argues in a new report. The group, which advocates for low-income students, is the latest in a string of reports criticizing the current performance of campus teaching training programs and recommending ways for Congress to reimagine the government's approach to the programs when it renews the Higher Education Act in the coming years.

 

 

September 24, 2013

Providence College administrators have called off a lecture organized by several academic departments by a philosophy professor at Wayne State University who is an advocate of same-sex marriage rights, The New York Times reported. Hugh F. Lena, the provost and senior vice president at Providence, sent out an e-mail announcing that the lecture by John Corvino could not take place. In his e-mail, Lena cited a document created by American Roman Catholic bishops in 2004, "Catholics in Political Life," which questioned the appropriateness of honoring political leaders who take positions that disagree with church teachings. Lena also said that the college requires that "both sides of a controversial issue are to be presented fairly and equally."

On his blog, Corvino questioned the provost's statement. Corvino noted that he was not being given some award but was invited by academic departments to give an academic talk. Further, he noted that the organizers had invited a theology professor at the college to speak immediately after him, explaining the church's views on marriage, and that the professor had accepted the offer. So, Corvino wrote, his appearance complied with the various rules in place. "The provost seems to want to have it both ways: the appearance of a commitment to vigorous academic dialogue, combined with an isolationist approach to disfavored views; in other words, a Catholic identity defined primarily by what it excludes rather than what it includes," Corvino wrote. "Pope Francis, the Catholic Church’s new leader, has been justly celebrated for his welcoming tone toward gays and lesbians. Notwithstanding my abrupt dis-invitation, I remain hopeful that Providence College may soon better reflect that tone."

 

September 24, 2013

Adjuncts at Wright State University reached their first union agreement with the institution last week. The 180-member union of full-time adjuncts is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors.

In an e-mail, Rudy Fichtenbaum, president of the AAUP and professor of economics at Wright State, said the contract was notable for its tenure-like job protections, including assurances of due process and continuous employment. It also includes a 2 percent raise and professional development funds, among other benefits. A separate agreement signed alongside the contract guarantees workloads of seven to eight courses annually for full-time adjuncts, depending on their rank.

September 24, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Tamar Makin of the University of Oxford explains how the brain creates pain in phantom limbs. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 24, 2013

The online learning website Khan Academy has begun translating its video lessons into Spanish, a spokeswoman recently confirmed. The site already features portals that link non-native English speakers to video lessons in English, but translating the more than 100,000 practice problems and video lessons into a different language marks a first for the site. The spokeswoman said about 95 percent of the practice problems and about 2,000 video lessons have so far been translated into Spanish, which means Spanish speakers visiting the new site will see some content in English for the time being. Once the old content has been translated, the spokeswoman said the translation team will adapt new content as it is added to the site.

September 24, 2013

Kofi Awoonor, a Ghanian poet who taught creative writing and African literature at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, was among those killed in the terrorist attack on a mall in Kenya. Awoornor was also a Stony Brook alumnus.

September 24, 2013

The State University of New York has toughened admissions requirements for the teacher preparation programs on 17 of its campuses. To enter an undergraduate major or a graduate program, a Graduate Record Examination or equivalent test will now be required, as only some campuses have done in the past. There will also for the first time be a uniform 3.0 grade-point-average requirement (such requirements also varied by campus). The 3.0 would apply to the first two years of college work for undergraduate programs that accept students as juniors, to high school grades for programs that accept freshmen, and to undergraduate work for graduate programs.

September 24, 2013

Kenneth P. Ruscio, president of Washington and Lee University, has ordered a review of the way the university reports admissions statistics, The Washington Post reported. The review follows an earlier report in the Post that the university has counted as applicants many who never finished their applications. The university's decision to count those partial applications decreased the university's admit rate, suggesting that it is more selective than it would be otherwise. “I believe that we are acting in accordance with the applicable guidelines and in a manner consistent with how other colleges and universities approach this process,” said a statement from Ruscio. “Nevertheless, if there are questions about our policy, we will address them forthrightly and transparently. Our credibility is fundamental to everything that we do.”

The review will focus on which applicants are counted in certain categories. The questions that have been raised are about that decision, not the accuracy of the data overall.

 

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