Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Many students say that they avoid early morning classes so they can get enough sleep to do well. But a study by psychology professors at St. Lawrence University, of students there, finds that the assumption of those who favor sleeping in is only partly correct. The study found that those with later classes indeed get more sleep. But those who get more sleep appear to use their rest to go out more and to abuse alcohol more than do other students. So it is the slightly more tired students who are in the early classes who earn higher grade-point averages, the professors found.

Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 3:00am

The training that new doctors receive during their residencies needs to be updated to make it more relevant to the needs of current patients and more closely linked to when students achieve outcomes than to how long they spend on tasks, says a new report on reforming graduate medical education. The report, released today by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, follows the May release of a report by the Macy Foundation and other groups on transforming medical education to focus on competencies.

Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Department of Labor now says that online advertisements in professional publications can be used by colleges and universities as part of the process of obtaining federal approval to offer positions to foreign academics. To win authorization for such hires, colleges need to demonstrate that they made a good faith effort to identify American candidates. For years, the Department of Labor demanded that institutions use a print ad to do so -- even as most job advertising in recent years has shifted online. But last month, an appeals board of the department ruled -- in a challenge by the University of Texas at Brownsville -- that there was no legitimate reason to demand a print ad instead of an online ad. And now the Labor Department has adjusted its guidance generally, not just in the Brownsville case.

Full disclosure: Inside Higher Ed stands to gain from the Labor Department's shift. Some colleges to date have purchased more expensive print ads elsewhere solely because of the now defunct Labor Department rule. In fact, the successful challenge by the University of Texas at Brownsville was over the right to be certified for foreign hiring on the basis of an ad on Inside Higher Ed.

Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Linn State Technical College, in Missouri, is subjecting all students to drug testing, an apparent first for a public college, the Associated Press reported. Linn State officials said that their numerous programs involving heavy and sometimes dangerous equipment -- aircraft maintenance, heavy engine repair and nuclear technology, for example -- necessitate the drug testing. But officials acknowledged that students in general education programs will also now be tested. Civil liberties groups are predicting a legal challenge. "I've never heard of any other adult public educational institution that presumes to drug-test all of its students," said Dan Viets of the Missouri Civil Liberties Association. "They're trying to break some new ground here. I don't think the courts will uphold it."

Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor, and Rick Perry, the current governor of Texas, clashed on science issues in Wednesday night's debate of the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. Huntsman, while declining to name Perry as a candidate who is anti-science, said: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science." But Perry, the current front-runner, repeated his view that there is no consensus on climate change and invoked economic needs and a hero of science to make his point. "The science is -- is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans' economy at -- at -- at jeopardy based on scientific theory that's not settled yet, to me, is just -- is nonsense. I mean, it -- I mean -- and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell." A transcript of the debate may be found here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Faculty members at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus went on strike Wednesday morning, arguing the administration’s new contract offer is unreasonable.

Around noon Wednesday, about 150 faculty members picketed the entrance to the 11,200-student university. The faculty union president Edward Donahue said union members voted overwhelmingly to go on strike after administrators refused to budge on salary levels.

As it stands, the university is asking for a faculty salary freeze for the first year and a combination of lump sum and incremental wage increases over the next four years of the five-year contract, said university spokesman Brian Harmon. Administrators ventured into classrooms Wednesday, explaining the situation to students and leading classes when possible, he said.

Ralph Engelman, a union spokesman, said the problem is with the lack of increases to the base salary levels in the first three years. Lump sum payments during those first three years will not be sufficient, he said. Donahue, who is also a chemistry professor at the university, said the faculty agreed to the one-year salary freeze and to increased costs for the faculty healthcare plan. “We’re only looking for a fair settlement that works out for everybody,” Donahue said. “We’re not asking for the moon.”

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are trying to promote discussion of a statue of a Confederate soldier on the campus, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. Many students say that the statue -- dedicated in 1913 and known as "Silent Sam" -- is a symbol of white supremacy. Some students want it taken down, while others argue for moving it, changing its plaque, adding another statue or simply promoting more discussion of what the symbolism is. Last week, students taped a temporary notice to the statue that reads: "This memorial to Confederate soldiers who left the university perpetuates an incomplete and inaccurate history - one that intentionally neglects the vast number of North Carolinians who opposed secession and the Confederacy. The original supporters of this monument, both town and university leaders, were motivated by racism and were colluders in a statewide campaign to establish white dominance."

More information about the student movement is available on its Facebook page. Many other Southern colleges have debated Confederate symbols on their campuses.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 3:00am

BPP University College, Britain's only for-profit, degree-awarding institution, will have a price advantage over nonprofit competitors. Times Higher Education reported that BPP will charge £5,000 (about $8,000) a year for tuition, compared to the £9,000 (about $14,300) rates being set by most other universities, which are losing much of their government support. The British shifts in higher education policy also allow students to borrow up to £6,000 to attend for-profit institutions, so BPP students will have access to loans that are large enough to cover tuition.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Villanova University recently started a new branding campaign -- Go NOVA. But a few materials were quickly reworked after some faculty members spotted an unfortunate appearance in the online versions of some images. The original version of this page featured the "Go NOVA" letters in blue on a white background. Inside the blue O was an image of several white spires of a church on campus, with some windows in the spires. To some professors, the image looked like members of the Ku Klux Klan. The image was prepared for a print publication (and Villanova officials said that the Klan image didn't occur to anyone who saw the print version). The image has since been removed from the online materials.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Carnegie Mellon University is today announcing a pledge by William S. Dietrich II, a trustee, of a $265 million gift, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Dietrich, who is also on the board of the University of Pittsburgh, is also expected to make a very large gift to that institution. At Carnegie Mellon, the funds -- equal to about a fourth of the university's endowment -- will be used for global initiatives and for programs linking study of the arts and technology.

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