Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 21, 2013

Raritan Valley Community College, in New Jersey, has signed an articulation agreement enabling graduates to transfer to the London-based University of Greenwich, The Messenger-Gazette reported. James B. Ventantonio, the college's interim president, described it as the first of a number of articulation agreements Raritan Valley hopes to forge with foreign universities. 

August 21, 2013

After a summer of unexpected setbacks and amid a growing chorus of doubt, Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun on Tuesday dismissed the idea that his company's model for high-quality, low-cost education isn't working.

Speaking to Information Week, Thrun said the MOOC provider has almost "found the magic formula" for how to produce and run its online courses. Udacity hit a major snag last month after disappointing results led one of its two university partners, San Jose State University, to pause its partnership. According to a leaked report, students enrolled in the $150 classes provided by Udacity performed much worse than their peers in traditional courses -- especially in remedial math. Thrun maintains the data was published "in an incomplete form, with a very strong bias," and that results from summer courses will show that more than half of the students passed their courses.

Thrun said the numbers should provide an incentive for San Jose State to resume the partnership in 2014.

August 21, 2013

MALDEF, the Latino civil rights organization, on Tuesday announced a suit against Pomona College over the tenure denial of Alma Martinez, who had taught in the theater and dance department. The suit says that the college discriminated against Martinez on the basis of her gender and national origin. While details of the alleged discrimination were not provided, the MALDEF statement said that Martinez had unanimous backing for tenure from her department. A college spokesman told The Los Angeles Times that there was no bias involved in the decision, but that he could not discuss the case because it is in litigation.

August 21, 2013

A University of Chicago student’s essay about her experience of sexual harassment while studying abroad in India had attracted about 350,000 page views by Tuesday morning, CNN reported. Many Indian readers sympathized with the story – some men offered their personal apologies -- but others warned against making generalizations about India or Indians.

The student, a South Asian studies major named Michaela Cross, said she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and is on a leave of absence from Chicago. (A spokesman for the university contacted by CNN confirmed that Cross is a student there but did not confirm details of her leave.) In the essay, posted under a pseudonym, Cross described spending three months “in a traveler's heaven and a woman's hell. I was stalked, groped, masturbated at; and yet I had adventures beyond my imagination. I hoped that my nightmare would end at the tarmac, but that was just the beginning."

In a statement provided to CNN, the University of Chicago said it was committed to caring for students' safety and providing support to students before, during and after the study abroad experience. "We also place extremely high value on the knowledge our students seek by traveling and studying other civilizations and cultures, and we are committed to ensuring they can do so in safety while enriching their intellectual lives."

August 21, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Professor Nancy Kim of the California Western School of Law explores the nature of Internet-based contracts we often agree to without careful consideration. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 20, 2013

The University of Sioux Falls on Monday denied that it is looking for a corporate sponsor to brand everything from its sports complex to its letterhead, saying the surprising news was a result of vague language taken out of context.

President Mark Benedetto said he was contacted by a reporter for the Sioux Falls Business Journal who asked to interview him about the ongoing development of the university’s sports complex. Since the university had recently severed ties with Sanford Health, which previously owned the naming rights, Benedetto said he saw an opportunity to plug the university’s hunt for a new sponsor. He was therefore surprised when an article in the weekly's parent publication, The Argus Leader, titled “USF's search for corporate partner is a delicate quest,” suggested the university “would integrate its business partner into many facets of the organization.”

On Monday, Benedetto acknowledged that the language he used in the interview is partly to blame for the mixup. “It was my mistake to use the term ‘corporate sponsor,’ ” he said. In conversations with potential investors, Benedetto said he uses the term because he feels it is more sellable than “naming rights sponsor.”

When the university does find an appropriate sponsor to put its name on the sports complex, Benedetto said its logo could appear only on fliers and tickets for athletic events. “It never was my intention to put a corporate logo on a business card,” he said.

The previous naming rights contract, signed when the sports complex was “basically a cornfield,” fetched the university $3.2 million eight years ago, Benedetto said. He estimated the university has invested more than $20 million into the complex since, and said he hoped the new contract would attract a multimillion-dollar deal. As part of the negotiations, Benedetto said the Baptist-affiliated university would seek a sponsor that fits its mission. He added that the the university has already turned down sponsors deemed inappropriate.

The liberal arts university, which enrolls about 1,500 students, is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. Students are not required to sign a statement of faith, but campus pastor Dennis Thum said the university always places its faith first when considering how the institution should be governed.

“As a Christian college, we identify that as the most important part of our identity,” Thum said. “We do not want to compromise our Christian integrity.” 

August 20, 2013

Two Canadian professors have been detained in Egypt for reasons that remain unclear, the CBC reported. John Greyson, an associate professor of film at York University, and Tarek Loubani, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Western Ontario, were arrested Friday in Cairo and taken to Tora Prison. They were planning to travel to Gaza, where Greyson was to explore the possibility of making a documentary and Loubani was involved in a program to train local doctors.

“Canada has been working at the highest levels to request confirmation of the nature of the charges and call for all evidence against the two Canadians [to] be released," the junior foreign affairs minister, Lynne Yelich, said in a statement on Monday. “I cannot say much about this case due to the privacy and security concerns of the two men involved. However, we strongly believe that this is a case of two people being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

About 1,000 people have been killed in clashes between the police and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi since violence erupted in Egypt last Wednesday. 

August 20, 2013

Americans may be embracing social media and online publications faster than research can determine its effect on science communication, and science understanding can be skewed by the increasingly personalized Web, asserts an article in the Aug. 13 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As early as 2006, 70 percent of Americans searched online for answers to science-related questions, noted Dominique Brossard, a professor of life sciences communication at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, but search engine algorithms could mean public opinion about controversial topics -- like climate change or stem cell research -- is impacted by how those search engines list the results to a query.

Researchers themselves are increasingly turning to social media to keep up with the most recent scientific developments, according to a report from the National Science Foundation. In 2010, one-fifth of neuroscientists and a quarter of physicians surveyed said they read blogs or used social media one or more times a day. "Science as an institution is, more than ever, in need of public support as federal funding is shrinking and scientific issues become more and more entangled with social and ethical considerations," the article reads. "A theoretical understanding of the processes at play in online environments will have to be achieved at a faster rate if science wants to leverage the online revolution for successful public engagement."

August 20, 2013

Career Education Corp. has agreed to a $10.25 million settlement with New York's attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman. The for-profit chain, which owns Colorado Technical University and Sanford Brown, had been the subject of an inquiry by Schneiderman over allegedly inflating its graduates' job placement rates. The settlement includes $9.25 in restitution to former students and a $1 million penalty to the state, according to a news release from the attorney general's office. The company has also agreed to "substantial changes" in how it calculates job placement rates.

August 20, 2013

A Florida appeals court has reduced -- from $10 million to $200,000 -- the amount the University of Central Florida must pay to the family of a football player who died after drills in 2008, the Associated Press reported. The ruling concerned the extent to which the university has immunity from various types of lawsuits. The appeals court also denied a request by the university's athletics division for a new trial.

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