Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 4:22am

Just hours after the Kinsey Institute announced a new mobile app on which people could report sexual activity, Indiana University (of which the institute is a part) pulled the app, The Indianapolis Star reported. The app was designed to gather self-reported data on sexual activity, birth control, public displays of affection and various other sex-related information. While the announcement said that the information would be secure and private, the university said that it needed to study the privacy issues raised by the app.


Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Myra Finkelstein of the University of California at Santa Cruz explains how lead poisoning is slowing the recovery of the California condor. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 3:00am

The Boston University men’s ice hockey team enjoys an insulated culture and celebrity status that “can lead to unacceptable and destructive behavior, including a culture of sexual entitlement and abuse,” according to the findings of a task force that was charged with reviewing the program after two players were accused of sexual assault last spring. The task force, co-chaired by Boston’s provost and a trustee, made a series of recommendations to improve oversight of the program and address systemic issues of assault and alcohol abuse on campus. In a statement Wednesday, President Robert A. Brown said the university would move to carry out the recommendations, which include reorganizing reporting relationships in the athletics department and updating the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct, as quickly as possible. Brown noted that “excessive alcohol consumption” has played a role in the majority of alleged sexual assaults and other incidents, and the university is “reviewing the recommendation about how best to implement a comprehensive, campus-wide program aimed at moderating alcohol use by our students.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 3:00am

A federal judge has ruled that Florida cannot deny in-state tuition rates to students who are U.S. citizens with Florida residency who can't prove that their parents have the legal right to live in the United States. The case is not about those students brought to the United States as children, the subject of much debate, but about students born in the United States who are by definition citizens. Florida's regulations requiring them to provide information about their parents' immigration status violate these students' rights, the judge ruled. The only issue that matters is the students' citizenship, ruled Judge K. Michael Moore. He noted that the benefits of higher education (admission and in-state tuition rates) "are properly viewed as attaching to the student and not the household." It is the students, not the parents, he added, who will have their names on the diplomas.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 3:00am

Florida A&M University on Tuesday announced that it has suspended its torque dancing team after allegations of an off-campus hazing incident, the Associated Press reported. A hazing death of a student in the marching band last year has focused attention on hazing at the institution.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 3:00am

The number of 18-year-olds is shrinking in Japan, so many universities are creating new incentives to get prospective students to visit campuses, The Asahi Shimbun reported. Some universities are paying the travel costs to campuses. Others are offering discounts on fees normally charged for entrance exams. Still others are starting programs for parents so that they can learn more about the university.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 3:00am

Tim Gunn was a faculty member at Parsons The New School for Design before "Project Runway" occupied too much of his time. A new meme imagines Gunn as an outside committee member helping to prod a doctoral student to the finish line. With advice such as "I hate two-part titles, but they're very now," and "I think your article is confused about its genre," on photos of Gunn advising would-be designers, the meme is attracting followers.

The meme is the work of a husband-and-wife team: Sarah Summers, a Ph.D. student in rhetoric and composition at Pennsylvania State University, and Bill Riley, a recent M.F.A. grad. Via e-mail, Summers explained: "We're both 'Project Runway' fans. Last week we were marveling at how Tim Gunn manages to be critical and incisive while also being encouraging. Working on a book project and a dissertation, we realized that a kindhearted kick in the pants seems pretty valuable!"

Make it work.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Erika Marsillac of Old Dominion University reveals how going green is keeping some companies in the black. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 3:00am

Two national groups aim to stimulate discussions on campuses across the country this year about what the top priorities of American higher education should be and what tradeoffs the country -- and colleges -- would have to make depending on the directions they go in. The campaign, “Shaping Our Future: How Should Higher Education Help U.S. Create the Society We Want,” is headed by the American Commonwealth Partnership, a consortium of colleges dedicated to democracy, and the National Issues Forums, a nonprofit organization that organizes and promotes public discussions. The goal is to bring together a variety of stakeholders, from university administrators to local residents in various communities, to discuss the purpose of higher education.  About 60 forums are already scheduled for the fall, and organizers hope to hold at least 300 community discussions this year.

As a starting point for these dialogues, the forum proposes three possible directions for higher education: focusing on competing in the global economy by emphasizing science and technology, using higher education to teach students values such as respect and responsibility, or make college more accessible. Panelists at a kickoff event Tuesday at the National Press Club acknowledged that these three choices are not independent of each other, but said they hoped laying out the options would spark debate, and maybe even action.

“My hope for these dialogues is not that they come to the right solution but that they create that ground-up passion,” said Nancy Cantor, the chancellor of Syracuse University and one of the panelists Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 4:04am

Internet2 and Educause, two higher-ed technology organizations, announced on Tuesday that they are expanding a group purchasing effort that allows member institutions to purchase access e-textbooks from McGraw-Hill at a discounted price. The effort, which began in January with five universities, "aims to advance a new model for the purchase, distribution, and use of electronic textbooks and digital course materials," according to a press release. The program added 20 additional institutions on Tuesday, including both small liberal arts colleges and large state universities. The idea is that negotiating deals for e-textbook access at the institutional level, as a group, will make it cheaper and easier for colleges and universities to support professors who want to take their courses digital. The first five universities to sign on recently collaborated on a report summarizing the experiences of students and professors in the first semester of the pilot. The results were mixed.


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