Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 3:00am

Adjuncts and their supporters are rallying today around a Mayday Manifesto that calls for a minimum payment of $5,000 per course. "The majority of college teachers in the United States today — over a million individuals — are contingent. Most of them are so-called 'adjuncts.' They are paid poverty wages, earning an average of $2,700 per three-credit semester course. Most adjuncts make $10,000 to $20,000 a year, often working more than 40 hours per week. An estimated 80 percent lack any health or retirement benefits, and academic freedom is meaningless in the absence of any job security," says the manifesto, which was organized by Peter D.G. Brown, president of the faculty union at the State University of New York at New Paltz. The manifesto also calls for longer contracts, health insurance and other benefits for non-tenure-track faculty members.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - 3:00am

President Obama used a speech Monday at the 150th anniversary meeting of the National Academy of Sciences to pledge that he would continue to push for research funding. "[A]s long as I’m president, we’re going to continue to be committed to investing in the promising ideas that are generated from you and your institutions, because they lead to innovative products, they help boost our economy, but also because that’s who we are.  I’m committed to it because that’s what makes us special and ultimately what makes life worth living," he said.

Further, at a time that Republicans in Congress are questioning the validity of peer review decisions, Obama expressed strong support for peer review. "[W]e’ve got to protect our rigorous peer review system and ensure that we only fund proposals that promise the biggest bang for taxpayer dollars.  And I will keep working to make sure that our scientific research does not fall victim to political maneuvers or agendas that in some ways would impact on the integrity of the scientific process.  That’s what’s going to maintain our standards of scientific excellence for years to come," the president said.

While a number of presidents have addressed the annual gathering of the academy, President Obama is the first to speak more than once at these meetings. He previously addressed the scientists in 2009.

 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - 3:00am

The Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation has donated $15 million to the City University of New York's New Community College, which will be renamed in honor of the Guttmans. The new college is based on a number of curricular innovations designed to promote high completion and transfer rates. The foundation also gave CUNY another $10 million for other community college efforts.

There is some dispute over the largest gift to a community college, but by some measures CUNY's newest community college may now have a claim, and it certainly has one of the largest of such donations.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - 3:00am

Dominican University of California announced last week that it had for many years misreported admissions data to the Education Department as well as to U.S. News & World Report and other groups that rank colleges. At Dominican, the problem was in calculating the number of applications. Contrary to established procedures, Dominican counted incomplete applications in determining the total number of applications. As a result, the college's admission rate appeared more competitive than it really is. For the class that entered in the fall of 2011, Dominican had reported a 53.7 percent admission rate. The real rate was 72.6 percent.

 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - 4:17am

Many colleges and universities are setting new limits on adjunct hours, seeking to keep the part-time faculty members from being covered by the new federal health-care law. On Monday, the adjunct union at Kalamazoo Valley Community College challenged such a limit, filing a grievance with Michigan officials saying that the new policy violated the union's contract, MLive reported. The union called the limit a "unilateral change" in its contract, and said that the college had an obligation to negotiate over that type of change. A college vice president declined to comment on the complaint, saying that administrators had not yet had time to review it.

 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Heath Brown of Seton Hall University explores how some minority-serving organizations work to encourage voting. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - 4:22am

George Wasson on Monday resigned as president of the Meramec campus of the St. Louis Community College, effective immediately, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The college has been under intense criticism for its handling of an assault on a female student. The alleged attacker -- who has since been arrested -- was originally released with just a verbal warning, infuriating not only the victim and her family, but many others on the campus.

 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - 3:00am

Boston University -- still recovering from the death of one of its students in the bombings at the Boston Marathon -- is facing another tragedy. A senior at the university was killed in a fire off campus early Sunday. Nine other residents of the building (including two other Boston University students) were injured.

Monday, April 29, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of New South Wales has announced that it will accept scores from the gaokao, China’s national college entry examination, for direct admission to many of its undergraduate programs, The Australian reported. While the gaokao is commonly criticized for emphasizing rote learning, a 2009 Australian Education International report found that the use of gaokao cut-off scores in admissions could “produce students with outstanding ability.” Several other Australian universities, including La Trobe and Monash Universities and the Universities of Adelaide and Sydney, also accept gaokao scores for direct admission.

Monday, April 29, 2013 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- While the Pell Grant is exempt from the mandatory, across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect in March, other federal higher education grants are not. Iraq-Afghanistan Service Grants, for the children of members of the military killed in action, have been cut back by 10 percent for new recipients beginning March 1, the Education Department announced in guidance issued Friday. TEACH Grants, for students planning to become teachers in high-need areas, have been reduced by 7.1 percent.

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