Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 5, 2013

Today marks the publication of Inside Higher Ed's 12th Cartoon Caption Contest. Click here to submit your most creative ideas for this month's drawing by Matthew Henry Hall. And click here to vote for your favorite among the three nominees chosen by our panel of experts from among the submissions for August's cartoon, which took readers (and some unlucky students) to the great outdoors. 

And we're pleased to announce the winner of July's contest: Jane Gallagher, professor of biology at City College of New York. She'll receive an Amazon gift certificate and a copy of this cartoon signed by Matthew Hall. Find out more about her submission here.

 

September 5, 2013

Another set of former college athletes are suing the National Collegiate Athletic Association for allegedly failing to educate football players about the long-term effects of head injuries, The Birmingham News reported. The class action, filed by two former football players at the University of Tennessee and one from North Carolina State University, is the latest lawsuit to try to hold the NCAA accountable for concussions and other head injuries suffered in intercollegiate competition. The lawsuit seeks to require the NCAA to provide a medical monitoring program to former athletes.

September 5, 2013

Introductory college biology textbooks prepare students – even those who don’t plan to become doctors – to take medical school examination tests, while devoting little attention to such topics as evolution, a new study shows.

Steven Rissing, professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State University, analyzed eight commonly used introductory biology textbooks and found that all closely followed the curriculum suggested for pre-med students by the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). All texts included at least 50 percent of the primary MCAT biology content specifications within the first 30 percent of text.

Over all, they put a heavy emphasis on molecular and cellular biology while underemphasizing “big issues,” such as personalized medicine, evolution and climate change, that have more relevance to students who don’t plan on being medical doctors, Rissing said in a news release. “We need to have biology education for citizens and voters, not just for future doctors.”

The study was published this week in CBE-Life Sciences Education.

September 5, 2013

The U.S. Justice Department has awarded a $2.3 million grant to a Vermont consulting firm to create a new federal center to promote campus public safety, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced Wednesday. The center, to be jointly created by Margolis Healy & Associates and the University of Vermont, was chartered by Congress last spring in response to violent incidents on multiple campuses. Its work will focus on training campus officials and providing resources designed to help colleges protect the safety and security of their students and employees. Margolis Healy was created by former campus safety chiefs at Vermont and Princeton University.

 

 

September 5, 2013

William J. Pepicello will retire as president of the University of Phoenix after seven years in the job, the institution announced Wednesday. Pepicello, who has worked at the for-profit university since 1995, has navigated Phoenix through both strong growth and the contraction that much of his sector has encountered post-recession, and has been a visible presence at meetings of higher education leaders.

September 5, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Einat Lev of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University describes her research into the properties of flowing lava. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 5, 2013

Cambridge University Press will power its learning management system with technology from Knewton to teach English to students around the globe, the two companies announced on Thursday. Knewton will work with the publisher to build a series of English Language Training (ELT) products for the Cambridge LMS platform, which serves about 250,000 students. As part of its expansion plans, Knewton will also open an office in London that will coordinate the company's work in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

September 5, 2013

A Pennsylvania court on Wednesday refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought by state officials who want to ensure that $60 million in fines Pennsylvania State University has agreed to pay the National Collegiate Athletic Association stays in the state, The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reported. The NCAA had asked the Commonwealth Court to dismiss a lawsuit, filed by a state senator and Pennsylvania's treasurer, asking that the hefty fine the university agreed to pay as part of a consent decree in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal go into a state-established endowment for child abuse victims, rather than going to the NCAA to spend on child abuse advocacy nationally.

A majority of the court's judges rejected the NCAA's arguments that the Pennsylvania officials did not have legal standing, that the case is moot because Penn State is not a party to it, and that the lawmakers' actions illegally interfere with the consent decree between the NCAA and Penn State, among other things, the newspaper reported.

September 4, 2013

Governor Jerry Brown has, since his inauguration in January of 2011, yet to appoint a member to the University of California Board of Regents, even though 5 of the 18 spots are vacant, The Los Angeles Times reported. Three of the positions have been open for 18 months. The vacancies are surprising to some because Governor Brown has attended board meetings and spoken out on university issues more than many governors have in the past, so he is clearly interested in the university system. Further, the seats are generally considered to be among the political plums available to a governor. A spokesman said that the governor was aware of the vacancies and focused on finding the best candidates.

 

September 4, 2013

The University of California at Irvine, ed tech company Instructure and entertainment network AMC will this fall come together to offer a free, eight-week-long online course based on the hit TV show "The Walking Dead." LINK WILL GO ONLINE TOMORROW

Instructure will provide the class, called "Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s 'The Walking Dead,' " through its MOOC platform, Canvas Network. Brian Whitmer, co-founder of Instructure, said the company came up with the idea after casting about for ideas about how to infuse its online course offerings with pop culture. "We have a lot of fans at the company," Whitmer said. "There was overwhelming feedback that this would be 'freaking awesome.’ "

Each module of the course will use examples seen in the first three seasons of the show and tie it to topic areas including mathematics, physics, public health and social sciences. Even though the course uses clips and other materials provided by AMC, lecturer Sarah E. Eichhorn said she is not concerned that the company's involvement affects the course's integrity. "I just saw this as a venue to promote my discipline and share some interesting mathematics," Eichhorn said. "No money is exchanging hands on any sides."

UC-Irvine was announced as a major Coursera partner in September 2012. Melissa Loble, assistant dean of distance education, said the partnership with Instructure represents another avenue for the institution to experiment with online education.

"We’ve used Coursera in the past because that’s where an opportunity came to us," Loble said. "We really believe in experimenting with all MOOC providers."

The class "meets" for the first time on Oct. 14 -- one day after the first episode of the fourth season airs.

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