Large numbers of students who have transferred to a four-year institution from a community college before earning an associate degree may be eligible to receive that credential, according to a newly released study from the Office of Community College Research and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The report, which is dubbed "Credit When It's Due," looked at the potential for "reverse transfer" policies in 12 states, finding that 27,000 students who had no credential four years after transferring would have been eligible for an associate degree.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Three researchers will share the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems." The winners are Martin Karplus of Université de Strasbourg and Harvard University, Michael Levitt of Stanford University and Arieh Warshel of the University of Southern California.
Princeton University's new president, Christopher L. Eisgruber, has appointed a faculty committee to review the institution's grading policies. In response to concerns about grade inflation, the university in 2004 adopted a policy stating that each department, over time, award no more than 35 percent of its grades in the A-range. The policy has been widely praised by educators who worry about grade inflation, but many Princeton students have been frustrated by it. In his charge to the committee, Eisgruber wrote: "Since the implementation of the policy ten years ago, the number of A-range grades awarded across departments has become much more consistent. Likewise, the grade inflation of the late '90s and early 2000s has been halted. Yet concerns persist that the grading policy may have unintended impacts upon the undergraduate academic experience that are not consistent with our broader educational goals."
Amid a slew of actions on the first day of its 2014 term, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand two appeals court rulings that raised free speech issues on college campuses. In one, Crystal Dixon v. University of Toledo, the justices declined to hear a challenge to a 2012 decision in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld Toledo's firing of a former human resources administrator who had made comments some viewed as anti-gay. The Sixth Circuit panel ruled that Dixon was a policy maker who engaged in speech on a policy issue related to her position, and that the university’s interests in upholding its equal opportunity polices outweighed her interests in commenting on a matter of public concern.
The Supreme Court also declined to hear Ed Ray v. OSU Student Alliance, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last year ruled that student journalists at Oregon State University had provided sufficient evidence to prove a free speech violation by administrators who signed off on the seizure of a conservative publication's distribution bins, but were prevented from presenting it because the lower court judge erred in not letting them amend their lawsuit.
First the University of Phoenix paid millions of dollars to plaster its name on the stadium where the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals play their games. Then Bridgepoint Education, a fast-growing for-profit education company, sponsored the Holiday Bowl college football game in San Diego, where its corporate headquarters are located. But with Bridgepoint's primary institution, Ashford University, facing significant scrutiny from Congress and challenges (now mostly resolved) in retaining its accreditation, the company opted to let its sponsorship expire this year.
Now another university -- a nonprofit one -- is stepping in. National University, a professionally focused institution that is part of a growing system of similar colleges, will become the title sponsor of the Holiday Bowl this year, the Union-Tribune of San Diego reported. National does not have any sports teams itself.
A state legislator has introduced legislation aimed at largely exempting public university executive searches from Florida's expansive open meeting and public-record laws, The Gainesville Sun reported. Florida's sunshine laws are among the most reaching in the country, and the legislation introduced by State Rep. Dave Kerner says that the laws create a "chilling effect on the number and quality of applicants" for president and other top university jobs. The bill would protect the names of candidates until finalists are chosen, at least 21 days before a final candidate is selected.
Francois Englert of Université Libre de Bruxelles and Peter W. Higgs of the University of Edinburgh were awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics this morning. They were honored for "the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider."
Evan Dobelle, president of Westfield State University, on Monday answered questions that had been due to state officials the prior Thursday about his spending on numerous foreign and domestic trips, and a pattern in which inappropriate charges were billed to the university or its foundation. As Dobelle was filing his defense, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said he had "very, very serious concerns" about Dobelle's spending, and the head of Westfield State's foundation disputed Dobelle's claims of fund-raising success, The Boston Globe reported.
Dobelle then defended himself on a YouTube video in which he said he doesn't like to travel, but does so only to advance the university's interests, and he suggested he was just seeking the same type of due process the governor has received when people have made accusations against him.
Massive open online course providers Coursera and edX will this fall launch new initiatives to expand their platforms abroad.
Coursera on Tuesday announced it will partner with the Chinese Internet company NetEase to create Coursera Zone, a web portal that will make the MOOC provider’s content available to Chinese students. NetEase operates the website 163.com, which is the world’s 27th most visited site, according to Alexa.com’s Internet rankings. Coursera Zone will feature course synopses, discussion forums and student testimonials in Mandarin Chinese.
In France, edX’s open source code will power a national online learning platform that will be available to the country’s more than 100 universities. The platform, announced last week by the French Ministry of Higher Education, will feature 20 courses that will start in January 2014.