Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 5, 2013

Latinos in California are far less likely to earn a college credential than their peers from other ethnic groups, according to a new report from the Campaign for College Opportunity, a nonprofit group based in California. One third of the state's adult population is Latino, the report said, but only 11 percent of Latinos in the state hold at least a bachelor's degree, compared to 39 percent of white Californians.

November 4, 2013

College trustees should be informed and engaged with administrators as they work to combat sexual misconduct issues on campus, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges said in an advisory statement. “Colleges and universities are defending against lawsuits, federal investigations, and negative publicity arising from their response to sexual violence on campus,” AGB wrote. “As they do with other issues related to campus culture, governing boards have a duty to become and remain informed about sexual misconduct on campus, and to satisfy themselves that administrators are addressing the issue in a way that protects their institutions against potential adverse financial and reputational consequences.” Specifically, board members should ensure their institution is meeting federal obligations such as identifying a Title IX coordinator, has policies that ensure fair treatment for all parties in a complaint, and is properly training its “various constituencies” on reporting and responding to alleged sexual assault.

November 4, 2013

The University System of Georgia, which has already had four consolidations of eight colleges and universities in the past several years, is now planning to combine Kennesaw State University and Southern Polytechnic State University into an institution that will keep the Kennesaw State name. The two universities are about 15 minutes apart and have a combined enrollment this fall of 31,000. The plan was announced Friday, and is already drawing opposition

Rumors of such a merger had been floating for years, said Professor Meighan Dillon, head of the Faculty Senate at Southern Polytechnic, though she found out the mercer was actually happening shortly before a press release announcement went out around lunchtime on Friday.

“This opportunity creates a new dynamic for us to raise educational attainment levels and enhance our ability to contribute to regional economic development,” Kennesaw State President Dan Papp, who will also serve as president of the merged university, said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the many talented individuals at both institutions in the coming months as we create a new institution.”

The university system's announcement also featured a quote from Lisa Rossbacher, the president at Southern Polytechnic. But she told The Marietta Daily Journal that she was not consulted and found out about the plan only a day before it was announced.

More than 1,800 people who are supporters or students at Southern Polytechnic signed an online petition opposing the merger. "We are dismayed by the closed-door, deceitful process through which the decision was made, and feel strongly that the cultures, identities, and missions of the two universities are incompatible," says the petition.

November 4, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Arnold Wilkins of the University of Essex digs up the evolutionary origin of a strange phobia. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

November 4, 2013

The CBS Los Angeles affiliate revealed last week that Carlos Vazquez -- who works as a parking officer at the University of California at Irvine and as a public safety officer at Golden West College -- posts photos of Hitler and degrading remarks about black people on websites. The photos of Hitler suggest admiration. For example, Vazquez created a photo with his children and Hitler and wrote as a caption: "Proud father moment when my daughter met the great fuhrer."

Another photo shows a hamburger with a swastika drawn in mustard and the caption, "I will have the Nazi burger easy on the Jew sauce." A spokeswoman for Irvine said she was offended by the web postings but that they were irrelevant to Vazquez's duties at the university. "As ill as it may make us to look at some of these things, we do have freedom of speech in this country," she said. But Jon Arnold, a public safety officer with Golden West College, said that "this officer is going to be put on administrative leave immediately." Vazquez declined to comment.

 

 

November 4, 2013

Some students are objecting to Northern Michigan University's plan to pick a new slogan to replace "Northern, Naturally," The Mining Journal reported. Officials say that, after 20 years, it's time for a new slogan. The interim president, David Haynes, recently said that "Fearless Minds" was a top contender. But students have organized a petition against that. Devin Manges, who started the petition, said that the phrase should reflect the university's connection to the environment, as the current slogan does, and also questioned the validity of "Fearless Minds," saying that "our minds are probably not considerably more fearless than others."

 

November 4, 2013

Many aspiring faculty members complain that search committees ask for lots of information they will never use (or even look at), with vague explanations of what to send. Rebecca Schuman, an adjunct at the University of Missouri at St. Louis and a blogger who writes frequently about job issues in academe, has proposed an unusual way to take a stand about such requests. On her blog, she has announced a contest in which she will pay $100 each to the first two people who send a photo of their butt to a search committee (mixed in with the other materials -- to raise the question of whether anyone would find it). Schuman is requiring that contestants provide her with proof, and that they apply for a job in their discipline for which they have the basic requirements. She also has offered to up the payout to $200 for applications to Ivy League search committees.

Via email, Schuman said that several people have indicated that they will send tush-shots to search committees, but so far no one has provided proof.

November 4, 2013

Cornell University is expected to soon announce that it will return about 10,000 ancient tablets to Iraq in what would be one of the largest returns of artifacts by an American university, The Los Angeles Times reported. The artifacts provide key details on life in Mesopotamia. While officials have found no evidence of wrongdoing in the donation of the artifacts, Iraq's government has requested them back and some have suggested they were looted after the 1991 Gulf War. Cornell officials declined to comment, but have been negotiating over the return with federal officials.

 

November 4, 2013

Service Employees International Union released a report Friday detailing the financial struggles of adjunct faculty at institutions across Boston, as part of its ongoing effort to unionize adjuncts in that city. The campaign is part of a national SEIU effort, called Adjunct Action, to organize adjunct faculty at individual institutions and regionally.

According to the report, called "High Cost of Adjunct Living: Boston," 67 percent of faculty members -- some 15,000 people -- in the Boston area were employed as adjuncts in 2011. Based on median pay per course in New England -- from $3,750 at private, master's-level institutions to $5,225, at private, doctoral-level institutions -- SEIU finds that an adjunct would have to teach 17 to 24 courses annually to enjoy median-priced housing and utilities in Boston, where the cost of living is 32 percent higher than the national average. Teaching 12 courses per year at those rates -- an unusually large course load -- an adjunct may earn $45,000, the report finds. Comparatively, full-time faculty earned from $113,000 to $154,000, on average, in 2011, depending on institution type.

The report is based on data from the U.S. Department of Education Digest of Education Statistics, among other sources, as well as SEIU interviews with adjuncts across Boston. Some tell of living off inexpensive food such as fried potatoes and onions for an entire semester and using credit cards to pay for basic costs, such as Internet and groceries. Many tell of feeling buried by student debt. According to SEIU calculations, an adjunct would have to teach one or two courses per semester to pay back average doctoral student loans alone. SEIU notes that adjuncts who are unionized enjoy on average 25 percent better pay nationally, as well as other benefits, such as increased job security, and, in some cases, access to health insurance.

 

November 4, 2013

A new study -- summarizing 26 previous studies on the scores of female and male students in physics -- has failed to find a consistent explanation for women appearing to start and finish courses, on average, with lower comprehension levels than their male counterparts. Viewing the studies in isolation, there is evidence that some factors -- such as different preparation of levels of men and women before college -- may contribute to the gap. But no one factor studied can explain the overall gap, "suggesting that the gender gap is most likely due to the combination of many small factors rather than any one factor that can easily be modified," says a summary of the study, which will appear in Physical Review Special Topics. The summary of the paper also notes that "several high-profile studies that have claimed to account for or reduce the gender gap have failed to be replicated in subsequent studies, suggesting that isolated claims of explanations of the gender gap should be interpreted with caution."

 

 

 

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