Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 16, 2013

Gloucester County College in New Jersey plans to change its name to more formally align itself with nearby Rowan University, and to create an "exclusive agreement" in which students who enroll in the two-year institution will sign a non-binding letter to enroll at the university and earn the right to enroll there if they maintain a 2.0 grade point average, South Jersey Times reported. If approved by state officials, the community college will become Rowan College of Gloucester County, and in addition to the transfer pathway, students at the county college who choose to remain there instead of transferring can take Rowan courses at a 15 percent discount.

October 15, 2013

Iranian President Hassan Rohani is calling for more freedom for students and professors at his country's universities, Radio Liberty reported. In a speech at Tehran University, Rohani said that he thought it a "shame" that professors and students "are not able to express their viewpoints." Further, he said that government officials should stop blocking scholars from attending international academic conferences.

 

October 15, 2013

Newly-released data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center tracks how 2.3 million high school graduates fared in transitioning to college over a three-year period. The report from the nonprofit Clearinghouse sets benchmarks for the college-going rates of public high school graduates, with specific categories for low-income, high-minority and urban high schools.

October 15, 2013

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, a Republican, on Monday released an audit he commissioned that found possible fraud and waste, conflicts of interest and poor governance at Alabama State University, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. The governor's office said that the report had been turned over to state and federal authorities. Further, the governor called on Alabama State's board to stop a search for a new president until some of the issues raised in the audit could be resolved. The university responded with a statement saying that the governor had violated an agreement to allow Alabama State officials to review and respond to the findings. The university's statement questioned many of the findings, and said that the findings were suspect because they came from "a firm that was handpicked by the governor without a bid and was paid for by funds under his control."

October 15, 2013

California needs a new higher education master plan to replace the "obsolete" guiding principles state leaders embraced more than 50 years ago, and the new approach should embrace online education so the state is once again an innovator rather than the "reluctant follower" it has become, argues a new report from an influential state agency. The report from the Little Hoover Commission, "A New Plan for a New Economy: Reimagining Higher Education," paints a critical picture of the current state of higher education in California, with a need to produce many more citizens with college credentials at a time when the state has "finite resources for higher education."

Among its many recommendations, the panel urges that lawmakers provide "incentives for developing online courses for high-demand introductory courses, bottleneck prerequisite courses and remedial courses that demonstrate effective learning. To qualify, the course must be able to be awarded course and unit credit, at a minimum, at all California community colleges, or all California state universities, or all campuses of the University of California. Better yet would be courses that would be awarded credit at any campuses of all three segments. Courses could be designed by private or nonprofit entities according to college and university criteria."

October 15, 2013

An Australian businessman who made his fortune mining precious metals will donate $65 million to support research fellowships and scholarships at five universities in Western Australia, The Australian reported. Andrew Forrest, who heads Fortescue Metals Group, will donate $50 million to create the Forrest Foundation, which will fund grants at the University of Western Australia and four other institutions in the region, and $15 million to build a residential college for rising research stars at Western Australia. The gift is among the largest in the history of Australian higher education, the newspaper reported.

As part of the donation, a new $50m Forrest Foundation will be set up to fund scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships at UWA and WA's four other universities.

- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/forrest-digs-deep-with-...

As part of the donation, a new $50m Forrest Foundation will be set up to fund scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships at UWA and WA's four other universities.

- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/forrest-digs-deep-with-...

 

October 15, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Keith Sanford of Baylor University explores the psychology behind the average domestic argument. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 15, 2013

University of the Kansas’ Faculty Senate has voted to affirm free speech rights and academic freedom for faculty members, following the removal from the classroom last month of a professor who made headlines last for his anti-National Rifle Association Twitter remark. "The University of Kansas Faculty Senate endorses the principles of First Amendment rights, academic freedom, and due process, and will work to see that these principles are followed with respect to all faculty,” reads the statement, which the Senate unanimously approved last week, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

The statement does not mention by name David Guth, the professor of communications who was suspended from teaching after he posted the following tweet in the aftermath of the Washington Navy Yard shootings: "The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you." A separate statement by the Senate's Committee on Faculty Rights, Privileges and Responsibilities about Guth's case references extramural utterances, which “rarely bear upon the faculty member’s fitness for the position.” Guth initially defended his remarks, saying he was tweeting as a private citizen; later he said he agreed with the university to begin a planned sabbatical early. Kansas has said his removal from teaching was not a punitive action, but an attempt to maintain classroom order, given the amount of attention his comments received, including physical threats. The Senate committee disagreed, saying in its statement that the move appeared to be a sanction, “applied without compliance with university rules and regulations,” and faculty handbook. (Note: This paragraph has been updated from an earlier version.)

Guth declined to comment. A university spokeswoman said she had no update on his case, and did not respond to a request for comment about the Senate statement. In an e-mail, Christopher Steadham, law librarian and Faculty Senate chair, said the vote was prompted "by the wide range of perspectives that faculty members across campus had shared with Faculty Senate leadership," and that the body had intentionally avoided taking any position on Guth's being put on paid leave, to avoid "injecting prejudice" into his case. Shared governance representatives will participate in his review, a date for which was not available.

 

 

October 15, 2013

A new report from LearningWorks, a nonprofit group that focuses on California community colleges, takes a look at experiments to reform remedial mathematics by emphasizing preparation in statistics and quantitative reasoning rather than the intermediate algebra pathway that students have traditionally taken. The report found that those experiments are being driven by a deepening belief that: "on the basis of a weakly predictive test, large numbers of students are being prevented from completing college unless they pass a challenging course that may be irrelevant to their futures."

October 15, 2013

The website Biology-Online has fired an employee whose response to a postdoc infuriated many who learned of the incident. An employee known only as Ofek recruited Danielle Lee, a postdoctoral fellow at Oklahoma State University, and author of a blog called "The Urban Scientist" to write for Biology-Online. When she turned him down, after being told that Biology-Online did not intend to pay her, Ofek responded: "Because we don't pay for blog entries? Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?" After Lee shared the story on her blog (which appears on the website of Scientific American) and that magazine removed the post, anger spread on the Internet, with many researchers lamenting the way minority and female scientists are treated.

On Monday, Biology-Online posted a statement that said in part: "We would like to express our sincerest apologies to Danielle N. Lee (DNLee) and anyone else who may have been offended by the way our recently hired employee, Ofek, handled the conversation with her. Ofek's behaviour was completely out of line and after gathering the facts we immediately terminated his employment. Ofek failed to show the respect and prudent behavior expected of him as a contributor to Biology-Online."

 

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