Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 26, 2015

On the latest edition of "This Week," Inside Higher Ed's free news podcast, the Urban Institute's Sandy Baum and Jennifer Wang of Young Invincibles join Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik and "This Week" moderator Casey Green for a discussion of the higher ed proposals in President Obama's State of the Union speech and his agenda for 2015. In our second segment, Debra Humphreys of the Association of American Colleges and Universities analyzes her group's new report on an apparent disconnect between employers and graduates about how well colleges prepare students for the workforce. Sign up here to be notified of new editions of "This Week."

 

January 26, 2015

Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican who now leads the Senate committee with oversight of higher education programs, has launched an effort to trim needless federal regulation, and many college leaders are drawing up lists of rules they think can be discarded. The National Association for College Admission Counseling has just surveyed its members on the topic - and the results don't totally fit the "regulations are over the top" theme popular with many college lobbyists.

The survey did find regulations that admissions officials believe are not that effective. For example, admissions officials questioned whether the information provided by net price calculators is really accurate. But most admissions officials surveyed said that federal regulations had a "low to moderate impact" on their work. Further, the survey found that 76 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that federal regulations "protect students and taxpayers from waste, fraud and abuse."


 

January 26, 2015

An article in The New York Times details the connection between a Columbia University professor and a political scandal that has shaken New York State government. Sheldon Silver, speaker of the New York State Assembly, was indicted on a series of charges last week on an alleged scheme involving the work of Robert N. Taub, the Columbia professor. The indictment charges that Taub, whose research focuses on a form of cancer caused by asbestos, refers patients to a law firm that employed Silver. In return, the indictment says, Silver obtained millions of dollars, and he funneled state support to Taub's research center. Prosecutors have reached an agreement with Taub not to prosecute him in return for his help on the case. Columbia announced Friday that it was shutting down Taub's research center.

 

January 26, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Stacy Tye-Williams, professor of communication and English at Iowa State University, sheds some light on bullying as it occurs in the professional arena. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

January 23, 2015

The University of California Board of Regents on Thursday tabled a proposal to require that any bonuses coaches receive based on athletic performance be linked to meeting certain academic requirements, The Los Angeles Times reported. Some board members said that the academic standards were too low to be meaningful. Others said that the requirement could hurt recruiting, or could create incentives for athletes to be encouraged to avoid majors in which it might be difficult for them to earn good grades.

 

January 23, 2015

Fewer than half of the elite research institutions that comprise the Association of American Universities will participate in that group's effort to anonymously survey students about the prevalence of sexual assault on campuses. The association said Thursday that 27 of its 60 U.S. members and one non-member college will join the effort.

Some of the universities that declined to take part in the AAU project have said that they'll design and conduct their own surveys. Dozens of researchers and some victims' advocates also raised concerns about how the AAU was going about producing the survey.

The White House has called on all colleges and universities to conduct such surveys on their campuses. Several members of Congress have also proposed mandating a standardized climate survey so that prospective students could compare institutions to each other on student attitudes regarding sexual assault.

The AAU previously said that its survey project was, in part, an effort to ward off a federal mandate.  “Our primary purpose in conducting this survey is to help our institutions gain a better understanding of this complex problem on their own campuses as well as nationally,” AAU President Hunter Rawlings said in a statement Thursday.

The association said that the following universities will participate:

Brown University; California Institute of Technology; Case Western Reserve University; Columbia University; Cornell University; Harvard University; Iowa State University; Michigan State University; Ohio State University; Purdue University; Texas A&M University; University of Arizona; University of Colorado Boulder; University of Florida; University of Michigan; University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; University of Missouri at Columbia; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; University of Oregon; University of Pennsylvania; University of Pittsburgh; University of Southern California; University of Texas at Austin; University of Virginia; University of Wisconsin at Madison; Washington University in St. Louis; and Yale University.

Dartmouth College, which is not an AAU member, will also participate.

January 23, 2015

About 200 people came to a meeting Thursday night of the board of Western Michigan University to protest the decision not to keep Alex Enyedi as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, MLive.com reported. University officials have not said why they did not renew Enyedi's contract, and have said that they don't comment on personnel matters. But supporters noted that he is beloved by the faculty and that he pushed hard (but without success) for salary adjustments for some women employed by the college whom he argued were not equitably paid.

 

January 23, 2015

The board of the College of DuPage on Thursday approved a $750,000 payment to President Robert Breuder next year (roughly twice his base pay) when he retires, The Chicago Tribune reported. While board members praised Breuder, the agreement follows Tribune articles questioning financial and management decisions at the college, and a faculty vote of no confidence.

 

January 23, 2015

A national poll of college and high school students about college ratings systems finds that the two factors in which they are most interested are the percentage of students working in their field one and five years after graduation, and the ability of graduates to repay their loans. The poll was released this week by Chegg, a company that offers textbook rentals and other services to students. The poll also found that despite the considerable debate within higher education about the Obama administration's proposed college ratings system, relatively few college students are aware of it. Eleven percent of high school students and 13 percent of college students said that they were aware of the proposal.

 

January 23, 2015

Retail giant Amazon wants to attract more academics to self-publish their textbooks through the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program, and on Thursday, the company announced KDP EDU, a division of that program focused on education. Scholars who choose to self-publish through the program can use Amazon's software, called the Kindle Textbook Creator, to convert their work into files readable on the Kindle app, which is available on most smartphones, tablet and computers. The app enables students to highlight text, add notes and quickly look up dictionary definitions within their textbooks.

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