Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 19, 2014

Duke University will once again call East Residence Hall by that original name, stripping it of the name of the former North Carolina governor who had outspoken white supremacist views, President Richard H. Brodhead said in a letter to students this week. Students at Duke had pushed in recent months to change the name of Aycock Hall, a freshman residence that had been named in 1914 for the former North Carolina governor Charles B. Aycock, who pushed for both expanded public education and for segregation.

Brodhead said the decision to change a building's name was not made lightly, given the "strongest possible presumption" of permanence when a building is named. But "while Governor Aycock made notable contributions to public education in North Carolina, his legacy is inextricably associated with the disenfranchisement of black voters, or what W. E. B. DuBois termed 'a civic death.'... [T]he values of inclusion and nondiscrimination are key parts of the university's mission. After careful consideration, we believe it is no longer appropriate to honor a figure who played so active a role in the history that countered those values. In keeping with our educational role, an explanation of the history of the building's name will be displayed in the lobby of the East Residence Hall.In keeping with our educational role, an explanation of the history of the building's name will be displayed in the lobby of the East Residence Hall."

June 19, 2014

The CEO and two other senior officials of the Harvard Management Co., Harvard University's investment arm, are leaving their jobs or plan to do so soon, following years of disappointing investment returns, Bloomberg reported. For the five years ending June 30, 2013, Harvard saw average returns of 1.7 percent, compared to 6.8 percent at Columbia University and 5.4 percent at the University of Pennsylvania.

June 19, 2014

Northwestern University's law school this spring expelled a student -- months from graduation -- who is a felon who has been convicted for falsely impersonating a lawyer, The Chicago Tribune reported. The student who was kicked out then sued the university, although a settlement appears to have been reached. Northwestern faulted the student for failing to disclose his past, and said that he was an "undesirable" candidate to become a lawyer. The would-be lawyer disputes the charges from his past, but he also argues that Northwestern never asked him about his criminal history.

 

 

June 19, 2014

The conservative airwaves and blogosophere were full of reports on Wednesday that the University of Wyoming had banned a veteran from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at a student government meeting. One problem is that the story wasn't entirely accurate. What really happened is that a student senator asked that the student government meeting start with the pledge. But the student government has a set of rules that state how meetings should start -- and the pledge isn't on the list. Officials said that the senator was told that if he proposed changing the "order of the meeting" to start with the pledge, and if the measure passed, the pledge could in fact start every meeting. But the senator must make the proposal and it must pass.

 

June 19, 2014

Instructure on Wednesday introduced new tools for its learning management system, Canvas, to help instructors collect data from face-to-face courses. In addition to a reworked quiz statistics page and a tool for quick in-class polls, Instructure also unveiled MagicMarker, an iPad app that lets instructors use gestures to quickly track how students are progressing toward course outcomes. That data is made available to students in Canvas' Learning Mastery tab. Instructure is this week hosting its annual user conference, InstructureCon, in Park City, Utah.

June 19, 2014

Government officials and educators in Denmark are debating whether the country is too generous to its college students. Tuition is free and students receive stipends (not loans) so officials say that students feel little pressure to study subjects that relate to potential jobs, Agence France Presse reported. Tech companies report that they don't have enough qualified applicants, while enrollments surge in topics that relate to students' personal interests. There has been much public discussion of a man known as "Lazy Robert," who at 45 has devoted considerable time to studying philosophy, Chinese and the social sciences and has no interest in finding private sector work.

 

June 19, 2014

Thomas Jefferson University on Wednesday announced a $110 million gift for its medical college from the Sidney Kimmel Foundation. The medical college will now be named for Kimmel, a philanthropist who has focused his giving on Philadelphia-area institutions.

 

June 19, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Nathaniel Dominy, associate professor of anthropology at Dartmouth College, discusses his research on an evolutionary understanding of how humans and other primates eat. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

June 18, 2014

Forget control of Congress and the World Cup. FiveThirtyEight, the new Nate Silver blog, is finally tackling a truly important issue, with a poll of Americans on the Oxford comma. The blog found that 57 percent of Americans favor the comma, while 43 percent oppose it. The poll also asked respondents to evaluate their own grammar. Proponents of the comma tended to rate their grammar as excellent or very good, while those who rated their grammar as fair were more likely to oppose the comma.

 

June 18, 2014

The office of Florida's attorney general, Pam Bondi, announced on Tuesday that it had concluded a three-year investigation into the recruiting and enrollment practices of Kaplan Inc., a for-profit chain. The investigation, which focused on other for-profits as well, found no violations by Kaplan, according to a statement from the company. Kaplan also voluntarily reached an agreement with Bondi's office, under which it will disclose more details about academic programs. The company will also reimburse the attorney general's office for fees it racked up during the investigation.

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