Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 3:00am

Syrian supporters of President Bashar al-Assad launched an attack on Columbia University's Facebook page Tuesday, posting numerous messages praising Assad. The Washington Post reported that a group called the Syrian Electronic Army was responsible, and that its motives were not clear. Some Assad critics later posted to Columbia's page apologizing for the pro-Assad posts.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 3:00am

One year removed from high school, 86 percent of new graduates believe that college is "worth the time and money," according to a new survey by the College Board. The majority holds (at 76 percent) for those who have not gone to college. The survey also found that 90 percent of all new high school graduates agree with the statement: "In today's world, high school is not enough, and nearly everybody needs to complete some kind of education or training after high school." Of those in college, 54 percent reported that their courses were more difficult than they expected, and many students said that they wished that they had taken more rigorous courses in high school.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 3:00am

Kansas State University recently introduced EcoKat, a special mascot to promote environmental causes -- and the fans are not thrilled. The Kansas City Star reported that, on Twitter, the #ecokat hashtag suggests considerable dislike, and that a #fakeecokat has also emerged on Twitter. Among recent tweets: "#EcoKat makes me want to leave my porch light on 24hours and drive two blocks to the gas station for a pack of gum," "EcoKat: The worst idea since the Power Towel" and from a University of Kansas fan "MY GOD. What is #kstate thinking? And you ask why you get made fun of ... #EcoKat. Please never change."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 3:00am

Officials at Des Moines Area Community College were alarmed when they read a tweet on Twitter that said: “Who wants to shoot up the DMACC Ankeny campus the same time I shoot up the Urban campus?” That message led to the arrest on Friday of Paul George, when he arrived for his second day of classes, The Des Moines Register reported. Authorities do not believe the threat was credible, but George faces a charge of first-degree harassment. Officials at the community college found the tweet because they regularly monitor what is said about the institution on social networks.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 3:00am

The father of a Frostburg State University football player said doctors had told him that his son died from “severe head trauma,” The New York Times reported Tuesday. While the NCAA and Ivy League have recently ramped up safety precautions to treat concussions properly or avoid them altogether, death by head trauma is extremely rare in college sports; it is most common among youth and high school football players. According to the University of North Carolina’s Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, from 1982 through 2010, 113 high school football players died from injuries that resulted in a brain or spinal cord injury or skull or spinal fracture -- while at the college level, nine died. The most recent death was in 2002-3. The Times report noted that “a different cause of death could be identified as facts of his case emerge.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 3:00am

The National Collegiate Athletic Association on Tuesday reinstated eight football players whom the University of Miami had declared ineligible last week after news broke that they got improper benefits from a booster, but the association required most of them to sit out games and to repay the value of the goods they received. The players include Miami’s quarterback, who must sit out the season opener next week. The athlete who will sit out the most games -- six -- received more than $1,200 in benefits, the NCAA said. The benefits included food, transportation and nightclub cover charges. In addition to those eight, five other players who were implicated in the investigation have been cleared to participate, but one was suspended indefinitely. Miami responded to the news with its own statement saying it "will be more vigilant" when it comes to compliance.

The university itself is still under a separate investigation (through the NCAA's enforcement process, as opposed to its system for determining player eligibility) into whether officials knew about the scandal. Tuesday's announcement about eligibility decisions includes some language that could suggest trouble ahead for Miami: in several cases it notes that players received money or gifts not only from the booster, Nevin Shapiro, but from "athletics personnel," suggesting that the NCAA has concluded that university employees participated in the wrongdoing.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Mark Harrison of the University of Warwick reveals that despite expectations to the contrary, conflicts across the globe are on the rise, and have been for over a century. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 3:00am

Under a new agreement between Pearson and the Eminata Group, students at three for-profit colleges in Canada will begin getting their course content exclusively via Apple iPads, the companies announced on Monday. Beginning in September, all new students enrolled at CDI College, Vancouver Career College and Reeves College will get iPads from Eminata, which operates the colleges, and will buy e-textbooks from Pearson. Over the next three years, all programs at the colleges will deliver their course content via Pearson's iPad-optimized e-texts.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 3:00am

Sprint has sued Blackboard, claiming that the latter company isn't living up to its end of a deal in which Sprint thought it would have advantages in marketing the use of Blackboard learning management systems on smartphones, Seeking Alpha reported. (Seeking Alpha is a news service focused on stock and business trends.) Blackboard disputes Sprint's assertions. Mobile use of Blackboard services is popular with students and has been a growth area for the company.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 3:00am

A former graduate student has sued Webster University, arguing that he was unfairly dismissed from a master's program in counseling for his lack of empathy, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The suit also alleges that he may have been punished for criticizing the program. The student says that his grades were good, and that he was not given a chance to improve when questions were raised about his ability during work in the field to show empathy. The university declined to comment on the case.

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