Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 7, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Nick Royle of the University of Exeter asks if personality is genetically determined or learned. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

August 7, 2013

After an 18-month study on governance of college sports, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics said in a report that “changes are needed to restore integrity” to college sports.

Among its recommendations, the commission shot down the idea that a new division separate from the National Collegiate Athletic Association might be the next logical step. Instead, the report says, the NCAA’s top committees should include more athletics officials, former athletes and other individuals with experience in college sports -- and governance should not just be left to university presidents, as it is currently. Among the other recommendations are to dedicate a portion of the revenue from the impending college football playoff to support athletes’ educational experience, and revise revenue distribution to strengthen incentives for exceptional academic performance by athletes.

The report also suggests a few ideas “that merit further study,” including a new NCAA subdivision, for football only, for the five major conferences and other high-income programs -- an idea that has gained significant traction in the past few weeks thanks to comments and speculation by major conference commissioners. The commission also proposes a new financial framework that might impose spending limits or encourage limited spending, to create greater financial balance among institutions, as well as greater differentiation of structures among sports for things like conference membership and championship formats.

August 7, 2013

The University of Oslo has rejected the application of Anders Behring Breivik, a mass killer, to study political science, AFP reported. Breivik, a right wing extremist, is in jail for his 2011 attacks that killed 77. Norway encourages prisoners to seek education (typically through distance programs) and Breivik's prison had no problem with his applying to enroll remotely. But word of the application set off a debate at the university, with some faculty members saying that they would refuse to teach him. The university said that it evaluated the application under normal procedures and rejected Breivik because he had not finished his high school degree.

 

August 6, 2013

Minority faculty members at community colleges feel marginalized and "subordinated" to white faculty members, according to new research from the University of California at Riverside. Despite these frustrations, minority faculty members are deeply committed to the missions of their institutions and to their students, the study found. Researchers based their findings on interviews with faculty members at four community colleges in California. The report calls on community colleges to hire more minority faculty members. The study notes that while more than half of the students at community colleges in California are from under-represented minority groups, only 30 percent of faculty members are from under-represented minority groups.

 

August 6, 2013

Kaplan Inc., now makes up a larger portion of the Washington Post Company, which Monday announced the sale of The Washington Post for $250 million to Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com. Kaplan -- which includes Kaplan University, a test preparation division and other affiliates -- brought in $548 million of the Washington Post Company's $1 billion in revenue for the second quarter of this year, according to a corporate filing. While Kaplan's revenue was down slightly compared to last year, its operating revenue improved. Revenue for the newspaper division, which has been battered by circulation declines, was $138 million for the quarter. Its operating loss for the first six months of 2013 was $49 million.

August 6, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Ricardo Ainslie of the University of Texas at Austin explores the social and economic factors behind recent violence in a Mexican border town. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 6, 2013

A U.S. Senate panel last weekend passed a rider to the defense appropriations bill that would count federal spending on tuition assistance for members of the military and their spouses toward a threshold that requires for-profit colleges to receive less than 90 percent of their revenue from federal sources. Military tuition spending, as well as funds from the Post 9/11 GI Bill, currently do not count as federal money under the so-call "90/10" rule. Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and critic of the for-profit sector, introduced the legislation, which also prohibits for-profits from spending money from military tuition assistance on marketing or advertising.

August 6, 2013

Howard University announced a severalfold expansion of its online offerings on Monday. It plans to offer about 25 online or hybrid programs over the next several years, an increase in online activity over the handful of online programs it offers now.

Howard Provost Wayne Frederick said the new online programs would be for undergraduate and graduate students. He said the arrangement was part of an effort to make Howard a more contemporary university and allow the university to expand its nontraditional enrollment and add to its revenue. Frederick said Howard was interested in reaching students in African and Caribbean countries with its fully online offerings, though the pricing structure of the courses has yet to be determined. The university wants to expand its on-campus capacity by using the online classes to help "flip" the classroom. 

The announcement may be particularly significant because historically black colleges and universities, such as Howard, have a reputation for moving their programs online at a slower pace than other universities, for a variety of reasons. “I think over all, it’s a space where students of color and providers of education to students of color are looking very closely because it does represent a contemporary movement in higher education,” Frederick said 

August 6, 2013

Peter Lach, dean of fine arts at Fairmont State University, has been charged by West Virginia authorities with second-degree sexual assault, and has been placed on administrative leave, The Charleston Gazette reported. A male employee told authorities that while he was in Lach's office, Lach pulled down the employee's pants and restrained him while starting oral sex. When the employee resisted, he said that Lach shoved him and that his head hit a copying machine. Lach, who is in jail, could not be reached.

 

August 6, 2013

The American Civil Liberties Union is raising questions about why Florida International University called off a planned baseball game at its campus between players from a Cuban team and their former teammates who now live in the United States, the Associated Press reported. The university called off the game less than a week after it started selling tickets, saying that a "contractual matter" led to the decision and refusing to elaborate. The ACLU has filed an open-records request for communication between the university and an anti-Castro group. "We have troubling evidence that Florida International University canceled the contract for the event based on expectations about political speech or fears about hostile reaction from some community groups which may or may not occur," said Maria Kayanan, associate legal director of the ACLU of Florida.

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