Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 20, 2013

A New York State judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Columbia University, finding that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue over Columbia's management of a 1927 gift by Italian-American families, Bloomberg reported. The gift was used to create La Casa Italiana as a center for Italian scholarship and culture at the university. But the suit charged that the university permitted numerous programs at the center that weren't connected to the donors' intended mission. The suit was brought by the Italic Institute of America, and the judge ruled that the institute didn't have standing to sue, despite its shared interest with the donors in Italian culture.

 

June 20, 2013

California's community college system this week unveiled a new Web tool that provides average salary levels of graduates of the state's 112 two-year colleges. The Salary Surfer database includes wage data for graduates of degree and certificate programs in about 25 disciplines. It lists the median annual salary for students two years before, two years after and five years after earning a specific credential. In April the system released Web-based "scorecards" on student performance at each college.

June 20, 2013

With the debate over unpaid internships heating up, new data may give pause to college officials who see unpaid internships as a path to future paid employment. The National Association of Colleges and Employers' survey of new bachelor's degree graduates who applied for jobs before graduation found that 63 percent of those who had paid internships received at least one job offer. The figure for those who held unpaid internships was 37 percent, only 2 percentage points higher than the figure for those who hadn't had an internship. The Atlantic summed up the research this way: "Unpaid interns of the world! Get up and leave the office. You have nothing to lose. Literally. Nothing."

June 20, 2013

The American Council on Education on Wednesday launched a campaign asking college and university presidents to promote faculty career flexibility on their campuses.

"We've found time and time again that flexible workplace policies make for happier, more committed faculty, which ultimately translates to better outcomes for our institutions and our students," Molly Corbett Broad, ACE president, said in a news release announcing the National Challenge for Higher Education: Retaining a 21st Century Workforce.

The campaign aims to reduce faculty turnover, increase productivity and engagement among faculty, and to develop means for baby boomer faculty to remain involved in institutional life upon retirement (ACE noted this is particularly important given the “looming wave” of baby boomer retirements) through more flexible work models.

Ten presidents and chancellors already have signed on to the campaign as founding partners. They are:

  • John J. DeGioia, Georgetown University
  • Mildred García, California State University at Fullerton
  • Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, University of Maryland at Baltimore County
  • Linda P.B. Katehi, University of California at Davis
  • Renu Khator, University of Houston System chancellor and University of Houston president
  • William E. Kirwan, University System of Maryland
  • David Maxwell, Drake University
  • Lynn Pasquerella, Mount Holyoke College
  • Steven G. Poskanzer, Carleton College
  • Lou Anna K. Simon, Michigan State University
June 20, 2013

Three former administrators at Carlow University have sued the institution, in federal court, charging the recent elimination of jobs has had an unfair impact on older workers, and in particular on older women, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The women who sued were 61, 65 and 73 at the time that their jobs ended. Their suit charges that 11 positions were eliminated, 6 of them held by women over the age of 60. The suit charges that the duties performed by the administrators were given to younger employees. A Carlow spokesman said that he had not seen the lawsuit and so could not comment on it.

June 19, 2013

Researchers at a Spanish university, la Universidad Carlos III of Madrid, have unveiled special intelligent glasses for use by professors when teaching. The glasses have multiple views for the professor, who can see notes for lecture delivery while wearing them. Further, the professor can look at students and then a symbol will appear -- selected by the student -- to indicate whether the student understands the content, and whether the student would like the professor to slow down. The professors who invented the glasses said that they would eliminate the need for a student to make a public statement about not understanding lecture content.

June 19, 2013

After years of prodding from fans and some football coaches, the powers-that-be in college sports (meaning the presidents of the conferences whose members play big-time football) voted to stage a four-team playoff to decide the sport's champion. The first game hasn't even been played yet, but already calls are coming from some coaches and many fans for more -- and the closest thing college sports has to a faculty voice is trying to cut the campaign off at the pass.

The I-A Faculty Athletics Representatives group, made up of professors charged by their institutions to represent faculty interests regarding athletics, issued a statement Tuesday discouraging talk of an eight- (or more) team playoff in the future. "The ink is barely dry on the long-term agreement recently reached by ... conference commissioners and the ... Presidential Oversight Committee for a four-team college football playoff system, yet there are already individuals both within college athletics and from the media calling for more. Enough is enough," the statement said.

“The four-team College Football Playoff design is far superior to any expanded playoff system that would add more teams playing more games over more weeks, thereby further interfering with academic obligations, inevitably overlapping with final exams and extending into a second semester, and increasing risks for serious injuries," said Brian Shannon, president of the faculty representatives' group and the Charles (Tex) Thornton Professor of Law at Texas Tech University. "[We] would strongly oppose any further playoff expansion.”

June 19, 2013

Europe's universities need to focus on teaching, and to assure that all professors and instructors know how to teach, says a new report from the European Union's High-Level Group on the Modernization of Higher Education. The report calls for "certified teacher training" for all instructors by 2020. A statement from the co-chairs of the working group said: "[M]any higher education institutions do not place enough emphasis on teaching in comparison to research, even though both are core missions of higher education. This needs rebalancing. The role of teaching in defining academic merit needs a stronger emphasis and recognition, especially in career terms. Ultimately, we should not forget that this is about the students -- how to offer them the best possible learning environment and education."

June 19, 2013

A jury in Missouri last week awarded $13 million in damages to a former student of Vatterott College who claimed the for-profit institution had misled her, The Kansas City Star reported. The jury found that Vatterott, which is based in Missouri and owned by a private equity firm, gave inaccurate information about a health care degree program to Jennifer Kerr, a 42-year-old former student. Kerr was awarded $27,000 in actual damages, with the rest of the $13 million being "punitive damages," according to the Kansas City Business Journal. A statement from the college said: "We cannot comment on pending litigation. We are confident at Vatterott that our systems and admission processes are handled professionally. Our mission is to transform and better the lives of our students through quality, career education. We are proud of this mission and will continue to pursue it with professionalism and integrity."

June 19, 2013

A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that 6.1 percent of students who earned bachelor's degrees in 2009-10 later enrolled at a two-year college, down from 6.5 percent in 2008-9. That decrease might be due to the economy's partial recovery, according to the center, a nonprofit group that collects data on 94 percent of college students. The pattern is most common among graduates of public institutions, according to the data.

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