Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 6, 2013

Authorities in New Jersey are investigating whether a video shows the alleged sex assault of a Seton Hall University student, The New York Times reported. The video shows attendees at an off-campus party laughing and cheering during the alleged assault -- and the video was reportedly circulated among students. "The recording or sharing of images of the alleged incident is completely unacceptable and contrary to Seton Hall’s Catholic mission and commitment to fostering an academic and social environment where all students are respected," said a statement from the university.

 

December 5, 2013

Towson University is trying to sell a presidential home that has caused lots of problems, The Baltimore Sun reported. A controversy shortly after the home was purchased a decade ago led to the departure of a president. Critics questioned why the university needed to spend $2 million on the home, and particularly focused on expenses such as the installation of an elevator. The university is likely to lose money on a sale, but could save money in the end because the home is estimated to need $700,000 in maintenance and repairs over the next five years. The current president, Maravene Loeschke, wants to live close to campus, and is proposing to buy a private home, in part with a $35,000 housing allowance.

 

December 5, 2013

Next month the GED Testing Service will launch a revamped version of the GED, which will be fully computerized and more expensive and include the assessment of college readiness. This week the testing service, which is owned jointly by Pearson and the American Council on Education, rolled out the test's new website. It includes a registration portal, study guides and information about applying for college, as well as other resources.

December 5, 2013

Robert Morris University this week announced plans to eliminate 7 of its 23 athletic teams. The Pennsylvania-based university said that savings will be used to finance improvements in the remaining athletic programs. The men's teams being eliminated are track (indoor and outdoor), cross country, and tennis. The women’s sports are field hockey, golf and tennis.

 

December 5, 2013

The Lumina Foundation on Wednesday announced the first 20 cities that it will team with on localized college completion strategies. In January Lumina announced a shift in its approach, with a plan to spend $300 million over the next four years on rethinking financial aid, new delivery models of higher education and mobilizing key constituencies to boost completion rates. The foundation also said it would team up with cities, with this group being the first batch. Each local area will receive up to $200,000 from Lumina, and foundation officials said more cities would be selected to participate in the next year.

December 5, 2013

It's a new month, and therefore time for a new edition of Inside Higher Ed's Cartoon Caption Contest -- the last of 2013.

Suggest a caption for this month's cartoon -- get those creative juices flowing.

Vote for your favorite among the three captions culled by our panel of experts from among the dozens suggested by readers for last month's cartoon -- the top vote getter will be next month's winner.

And read more about the winner of October's contest, Brian Halloran. He doesn't work in higher education, but the recent college graduate reads Inside Higher Ed, he says, because "the site is a great tool for information to better educate myself about my career and the challenging issues young adults similar to me are facing."

December 5, 2013

An assistant professor of English at Indiana University Northwest has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights accusing the institution of denying her tenure because she is a woman and because she is a lesbian. Anne Balay, who learned she was denied tenure in April, filed her complaint this week, the Windy City Times reported, alleging that students criticized her in evaluations not because she was a poor teacher but because she was openly gay. Those ratings contributed to her losing her bid for tenure, she says. "If you've never had an out professor before, and a professor says that they're a lesbian, you hear nothing else all semester," she told the Times, noting that some students had accused her of talking about sexuality too frequently -- something she denies. "Those are the only words that you retain."

Balay's fellow professors recommended her for tenure, but were overruled by the department chair, she says. At the next level of evaluation, she says a committee of College of Arts and Sciences professors recommended her for tenure but the dean vetoed that recommendation. Balay's faculty appeals board hearing was held Wednesday. In an email, she said the results were still unknown. A university spokeswoman declined to comment on Balay's case for the Times. Balay also has filed a similar complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

 

December 5, 2013

The Obama administration is moving ahead with plans to waive certain federal student aid rules for a limited number of colleges that want to experiment with competency-based education and other innovative forms of higher education.

Officials are soliciting suggestions on what those experiments should look like, according to a notice set to be published in the Federal Register this week. The Education Department said it is “particularly interested in experiments that are designed to improve student persistence and academic success, result in shorter time to degree, including by allowing students to advance through educational courses and programs at their own pace by demonstrating academic achievement, and reduce reliance on student loans.”

The department gave three examples of the types of innovations it may approve: competency-based education, dual enrollment of high school students in higher education, and prior learning assessment.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in remarks at a student aid conference Wednesday that the experiments will allow colleges to “pursue responsible innovations to increase college value and affordability.”

The Obama administration first announced in August that it wanted to use its “experimental sites” authority to pilot higher education innovations aimed at lowering costs while maintain quality.

President Obama said in a speech on the economy Wednesday that his administration was “pursuing an aggressive strategy to promote innovation that reins in tuition costs.”

The push for federal funding for higher education innovations has been aggressive elsewhere in Washington as well. Several education foundations and think tanks have embraced alternative models of higher education, and the issue is attracting attention from a growing number of lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  

The Education Department said it wants to hear experiment proposals from colleges, businesses, philanthropies and state agencies. The suggestions are due by January 31 of next year.

December 5, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, David Hsu of the University of Michigan explains how the brain deals with the pain of social rejection. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

December 5, 2013

Professors at Davidson College, working through the MOOC provider edX and the College Board, are going to start to prepare online tutorials in select topics in the Advanced Placement program, The New York Times reported. The goal is to create units covering specific topics within AP courses that may be tripping up students. The effort will start with AP courses in calculus, physics and macroeconomics.

 

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