Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 11, 2013

Eastern Michigan University fired Ron English as football coach after a tape surfaced of him yelling at team members in a tirade with numerous expletives and insults, The Detroit News reported. Heather Lycke, the athletics director, issued a statement on the dismissal Saturday: "We hold our coaches and staff to high standards of professionalism and conduct and there is no place, particularly in a student environment, where the language is appropriate. The statements made by Coach English are absolutely unacceptable. My decision to make a change in leadership of our football program was the culmination of a lot of factors including the comprehensive review of our program, the competitive performance and this tape."

The Detroit News article linked to above includes a link to a censored version of the recording.

The Eastern Echo, the student newspaper at Eastern Michigan, has released an uncensored version of the recording.

 

November 11, 2013

Gonzaga University has announced that it will review its ban on gun ownership, The Spokesman-Review reported. Two Gonzaga students are facing punishment, possibly excluding expulsion, after an incident in which they scared away a homeless man who showed up at their door demanding money. The students held up a gun during the incident, but no shots were fired. While the incident ended without violence, the students now face charges of violating Gonzaga's ban on guns in university facilities such as their housing unit. Many have criticized the university, saying that the students showed how guns can be used in self-defense. Thayne McCulloh, president of the university, said now would be a time for a "thoughtful evaluation" of the policy, which for now remains in effect.

 

November 11, 2013

Hundreds of academics have urged the University of Zurich to restore the job of Iris Ritzmann, a professor at the university's Institute for the History of Medicine, SwissInfo reported. She was fired for confidential documents to reporters that deal with criticism of Christoph Mörgeli, the head of the university’s Medical History Museum, who is also a politician. Statements by Ritzmann's supporters say that she has defended academic standards, and was punished for political reasons. The rector, Andreas Fischer, has resigned amid the controversy, saying he took "ultimate responsibility" for what has happened.

 

November 11, 2013

Turnover in the senior ranks at the University of Wyoming has increased substantially in the five months that Robert Sternberg has been president, The Casper Star-Tribune reported. Eleven deans or other administrators have resigned, a number at the request of Sternberg, and the departure of the law dean has been particular contentious. Higher education experts in the article noted that turnover in the administrative ranks is fairly common when a new president takes over -- and puts his or her own team in place. But others said that the pace of change has been unusual.

 

November 11, 2013

The tech company Intel announced Friday that it has purchased Kno, which produces interactive versions of textbooks. TechCrunch and other tech analysis blogs view the purchase as a significant push by Intel into the education space.

November 11, 2013

Harvard University recently announced an 11.3 percent return on its endowment, which was valued at $32.7 billion on June 30. That's the largest endowment in higher education. The university also recently announced a $6.5 billion fund-raising campaign -- the largest ever in higher education. But an interview released by the university Friday with its chief financial officer, Dan Shore, he focused on financial pressures on the university. He said that the university has a $34 million deficit. And while that's small in the context of the university's $4.2 billion budget, he said that "the path toward our ability to thrive in the future requires that we not wait until the deficit gets even bigger before we start to act, because then it will require us to be in a much more reactive position." He also noted uncertainty about federal support, on which Harvard relies for research.

In language that is similar to that used at many less wealthy colleges, Shore also said that Harvard can't simply add expenses. "The campaign helps, but, fundamentally, we can no longer live in a world where things continue simply to be additive," Shore said. "The next new and exciting thing that we think it’s important to do can’t simply be layered on top of all of the other things that we’ve been doing. It’s just not a sustainable model. And I think the entire higher education industry is feeling the need to move away from that way of doing business."

November 11, 2013

More than one million veterans, service members and their families have received tuition assistance and other benefits from the post-9/11 GI bill, Jill Biden announced Friday. The post-9/11 GI bill began in August 2009 and the Department of Veterans Affairs has since spent more than $30 billion in tuition and benefits for veterans, service members and their families. "The post-9/11 GI bill is one way to help make the transition into civilian life a successful one," said Biden, wife of the vice president, in a teleconference Friday.

The millionth beneficiary of the bill, Steven Ferraro, is studying communications at Middlesex County College in New Jersey. Ferraro served in the Army from 2003 to 2013 and was deployed to Iraq in 2008. “Going back to school after serving in the military is a very big challenge, especially trying to manage school with a family,” he said.
 

November 11, 2013

edTPA, the new "performance-based" assessment tool and career-entry test that measures teacher preparation, is "fully operational" and ready for nationwide use after a two-year field test in about two dozen states, American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education officials said Friday. The assessment, which has drawn criticism from some educators who say it could override authority of teacher programs and faculty, uses new and purportedly more valid tools, including videotapes and and evidence of student work and learning to determine whether a teacher is prepared to run a classroom from day one. Currently, preparation is measured in part via a multiple-choice test of basic skills and subject matterisn't it also now measured by student teaching that is supervised? -sj *** this is what AACTE said; I guess to show the differences in approach  -ag. Only about 58 percent of the 12,000 prospective teachers who attempted edTPA during the field test would have passed. AACTE notes in a report that factors including a lack of consequence for test-takers and lack of support systems or appropriate coursework among teacher programs, which will presumably improve as more institutions use the assessment.

November 11, 2013

At an event last week, two Bay Area members of the U.S. House of Representatives were aggressively critical of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges for its treatment of City College of San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Reps. Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo, both Democrats, said they hope the three lawsuits filed by supporters of City College will prevent the college from losing its accreditation next year. 

November 11, 2013

The massive open online course provider edX announced a new open-source platform on Friday: Edraak, an online education platform for Arabic-speaking students. The Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development, which promotes efforts to strengthen education in Jordan, will use Open edX, the MOOC provider's open-source platform, to feature select courses translated into Arabic. As the platform grows, faculty members in Arabic-speaking countries will contribute their own courses. The creation of Edraak follows expansion initiatives in France and China.

Note: This article has been updated to clarify that Edraak is an independent platform, not an edX consortium.

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