Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 24, 2014

The University of Michigan Board of Regents today named Mark S. Schlissel as the institution's next president. Schlissel is provost of Brown University. Before being named provost at Brown in 2011, he was dean of biological sciences at the University of California at Berkeley, where he also held the C.H. Li Chair in Biochemistry.

He will succeed Mary Sue Coleman on July 1. Coleman is retiring after 12 years as president at Michigan.

 

January 24, 2014

The parents of an Auburn University student who was kidnapped on campus in 2008 have filed a claim alleging that her murder could have been prevented if the institution had its own police force, which it eliminated in the 2000s to save money. Since then, Auburn has relied on city police to patrol campus, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported. Lauren Burk's parents also allege that the university failed to follow federal security recommendations. They are suing the Alabama Board of Adjustment for $1 million in damages; the state's constitution protects state entities (including Auburn) from lawsuits seeking monetary damages. An Auburn spokesman reached for comment said, "It is Auburn University’s policy not to comment on pending investigative issues."

January 23, 2014

A group of institutions that favor a competency-based approach to student learning have offered examples of the sorts of approaches they would try in a program the U.S. Education Department is contemplating to encourage such experimentation. The department in December issued an invitation to institutions to propose ways in which a waiver of certain federal financial aid rules, as part of an "experimental sites" program, might allow them to improve student outcomes, speed time to degree, and lower costs for students.

In their submission, the institutions -- which include a mix of traditional public and private institutions, online only institutions, and community college systems -- proposed "testing new or alternative federal definitions of attendance and satisfactory academic progress," "decoupling federal financial aid from time-based measures," and allowing federal aid to flow to a degree program that mixes competency- and credit-hour-based learning, among other approaches.

The institutions are: Alverno College, Antioch University, Brandman University, Broward Community College, Capella University, Cardinal Stritch University, Charter Oak State College, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, Excelsior College, Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Lipscomb University, Northern Arizona University, Southern New Hampshire University, SUNY Empire State College, University of Maryland University College, the University of Wisconsin-Extension and Westminster College.
 

January 23, 2014

Adjuncts in the Maine Community College System, who teach about 45 percent of all courses, have won their first union contract, The Portland Press Herald reported. The contract provides for a 2 percent retroactive salary payment for those who taught in the 2012-13 academic year and again last fall, a 3 percent raise in the current base salary calculation and another 3 percent increase on July 1. The adjuncts are represented by the Maine State Employees Association, of the Service Employees International Union.

 

January 23, 2014

While linguistics remains a relatively small major nationally, it has been seeing significant growth nationally, from a little more than 700 bachelor's degrees awarded in 2000 to 2,200 in 2012 -- a period in which there has not been dramatic change in graduate enrollments. Further, 70 percent of the undergraduate enrollments are women. These are among the figures in the first report of the Linguistic Society of America on the state of the discipline. While the new report features some longitudinal data based on other sources, the new report will seek to annually track changes in the discipline.

January 23, 2014

A judge has ruled a taped interview of an alleged killer conducted as part of a sociology study off-limits to Montreal police, The Globe and Mail reported. Luka Magnotta, a stripper and porn actor accused of killing and dismembering a 33-year-old Chinese student, participated in a study on the sociology of sex work conducted by two University of Ottawa professors in 2007, five years before the alleged murder took place. After reviewing a transcript of the tape, Justice Sophie Bourque of the Quebec Superior Court ruled that while the right to confidentiality in academic research is not absolute and must be weighed against other societal goals, in this case the harm to academic research done in releasing the tape would outweigh the benefit.

 

January 23, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Kathryn Medler of the State University of New York at Buffalo explains why sweets can be experienced differently by people of different weights. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

January 23, 2014

The massive open online course provider Udacity unveiled a redesigned website on Wednesday, highlighting the company's recent focus on corporate training. In an accompanying blog post, the founder Sebastian Thrun also announced the start of two new courses, developed in partnership with Cloudera and Salesforce, that "address the widening job skills gap in the U.S. and around the world."

Udacity has displayed a growing interest in corporate training, such as its inexpensive master's degree in computer science created with the Georgia Institute of Technology, after experimenting with online courses in remedial education last year. Udacity last redesigned its website in early 2013.

January 22, 2014

What are those peer reviewers really saying, in six words? Check out the hastag #SixWordPeerReview. Some of the entries:

  • You didn't cite my paper: reject.
  • Incremental at best. Enthusiasm is limited.
  • Please cite more of my papers.
  • Six years of your life. Sorry.
  • Needs to be about my interests.

 

January 22, 2014

A Purdue University undergraduate is facing a murder charge in the shooting death Tuesday of another student at the university. The university was locked down in the early afternoon Tuesday after shots were fired in a classroom building. One student, Cody Cousins, was arrested in the death Andrew F. Boldt, both of whom were seniors in the College of Engineering, according to a university statement. The Journal and Courier of Lafayette, Ind., reported that the two men both were teaching assistants for an electrical and computer engineering professor.

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