Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 3:00am

A new conference in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division II will comprise nine of the 12 member institutions of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which is dissolving at the end of this academic year, the NCAA announced Wednesday. The Mountain East Conference will be made up of the University of Charleston, Concord University, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, Notre Dame College, Shepherd University, Urbana University, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, West Liberty University, West Virginia State University, West Virginia Wesleyan College and Wheeling Jesuit University.

The Mountain East will conduct championships in baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, football, men’s and women’s golf,  men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s track and field, and women’s volleyball.

Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 4:35am

Be careful about putting too much weight in the "report cards" various organizations issue about state education policies. A new analysis from the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder has found that the grades are fairly predictable, based on the ideology of the group doing the evaluations. As a result, every state has earned a D or F on at least one of the report cards in recent years. An almost every state has earned an A or B on one of the report cards. The analysis was prepared by Sherman Dorn, an education professor at the University of South Florida, and Ken Libby, a doctoral student at Boulder.


Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 3:00am

A University of Minnesota wrestler who posted original music videos on YouTube and songs on iTunes has been declared ineligible because National Collegiate Athletic Association rules prohibit athletes from using their name or image for commercial purposes, USA Today reported. Joel Bauman chose to forgo his athletic scholarship rather than singing under an alias or taking the music down because his goal is to inspire people, he said. (Below is the video for his chase-your-dreams song, "Ones in the Sky," which has more than 23,000 views.)  

Responding to an inquiry from Sports Illustrated, the NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said Minnesota chose to interpret the rule that way and that Bauman could seek a rules waiver with the university’s support. If Minnesota hadn’t declared Bauman ineligible and he’d continued making music under his own name, the university could have faced NCAA sanctions (which could include declaring Bauman ineligible). Bauman is also a motivational speaker. He told SI he has yet to break even financially on anything he's done.


Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jean-Philippe Lessard of McGill University explains how modern techniques are being used to refine an iconic map of the world’s biodiversity. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 3:00am

Ohio State University joins Morehouse College this year as site of a commencement speech by President Obama. Two other sitting presidents -- George W. Bush and Gerald Ford -- have addressed Ohio State graduates. Historically, presidents deliver commencement addresses at one public institution, one private institution and a U.S. service academy.


Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 3:00am

Oxford Brookes University is becoming the first British university to use U.S.-style grade-point averages, although the institution will also still use the British style of grouping students by broad honors categories, Times Higher Education reported. Officials cited a number of reasons, including the way G.P.A.s allow for ranges, while British honors don't distinguish between those who just made a category and those who just missed it, resulting in "cliff edges" between students.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 3:00am

Jean-Lou Chameau announced Tuesday that he will be stepping down as president of the California Institute of Technology, and will take a position leading the new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, in Saudi Arabia. In a letter to the campus, Chameau said that he and his wife had until recently "believed we would complete our careers at Caltech and retire in Pasadena. It would be difficult not to feel that way when working in such a special place and community. We did not expect, however, to be presented with a unique and life-changing opportunity: to lead the recently created King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. As I considered accepting the position at KAUST and as I spoke with individuals involved in its founding, I was struck by the attention paid to establishing a culture of excellence, and how its planning had been influenced by great institutions from around the world, including Caltech."


Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 3:00am

Texas legislators are rallying around Bill Powers, the University of Texas at Austin president who may be the target of another ouster attempt by regents close to Governor Rick Perry, the Associated Press reported. Lieut. Governor David Dewhurst on Tuesday announced plans for Senate hearings on whether the UT Board of Regents is meddling too much into the decisions Powers makes. Further, he denounced what he called "character assassination" of Powers and his family in the form of anonymous letters he said are circulating among board members. Dewhurst did not offer specifics on the letters.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 3:00am

The Graduate Management Admission Council, which runs the Graduate Management Admission Test, is today introducing Reflect, a new service to test the "soft skills" of students. GMAC hopes that business schools (and employers and other colleges) will use the test to identify students' personality-related skills, and to help students develop their strengths and compensate for weaknesses. The test will take about 45 minutes and cost $99, which could be paid by the student or by a college wanting to test a class or a cohort. The test consists of more than 500 short answer questions (many of them true/false or yes/no). Those who take the test will get a report on how they score in 10 areas (such as resilience, drive and collaboration) as well as strategies based on their skill level.

Joseph P. Fox, associate dean and director of M.B.A. programs at Washington University in St. Louis, said that his institution wants to try using the test in organizational behavior and leaderships classes. Via e-mail, he said this would be valuable because "year after year employers identify the fact that well-developed soft skills are of paramount importance in the hiring and promotion process. They take the technical skills, tools, and intellectual horsepower as the 'price of entry' into their consideration. But they make the tough (and final) choices based on the other so called 'soft skills.'"

In recent years, the Educational Testing Service has been encouraging the use of the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT, and ETS has promoted its Personal Potential Index as a tool in which applicants to graduate schools can be measured on some similar characteristics as those that will be measured in Reflect. But a GMAC spokeswoman said that Reflect was not appropriate as an admissions tool.



Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 4:12am

Daniel LaVista, chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District since 2010, has announced he will be leaving the position, The Los Angeles Times reported. During his tenure, the district has dealt with severe state-imposed budget cuts and faced considerable scrutiny over management of a massive construction program.



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