Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 6, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, William Powell of the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry explains how genetic modification can save trees from blight. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

November 6, 2013

The student body president at Northwest Christian University has revealed that he is an atheist, The Register-Guard reported. Eric Fromm, the president, said he decided to go public to respond to shunning and rumors about his beliefs, which he had been discussing informally. Fromm shared his views with the campus at large by writing an essay for the student newspaper. He said that reaction since he did so has mostly been positive. Michael Fuller, the university’s vice president for enrollment and student development, called Fromm "a man of very high character and respect" and "a great advocate for our student body, which is exactly what he’s supposed to be and do." As to Fromm's lack of faith, Fuller said that, "If we all had our wishes, we wish Eric would be a strong Christian man." But he added: "We’re an open and welcome community, and we meet students exactly where they’re at."

 

November 6, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that male and female students will be segregated in university dorms, the Associated Press reported The issue points to continuing tensions between Erdogan’s Islamic-leaning government and secular-minded Turks, many of whom accuse Erdogan of imposing his conservative beliefs on society at large. Erdogan said of the decision regarding dorms that the government has a duty to students’ parents.

November 5, 2013

While public and private institutions have chosen different strategies on online education, academic officials in both camps face the same challenges with getting faculty members on board with the efforts, according to new research conducted by the Learning House, Inc., of members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Council of Independent Colleges.

The findings, detailed in two separate reports, show that public institutions continue to be the driving force when it comes to offering fully online programs. Nearly half of the surveyed AASCU member institutions, or 48 percent, said they offer five or more such programs, while an equal number of CIC member institutions reported they don't offer a single one. 

The independent institutions are unlikely to close the gap in the coming years. Asked to list their top priorities in the next two years, only 23 percent of respondents picked creating fully online undergraduate or graduate programs. Still, the report notes that "Even among institutions that do not offer any fully online programs now, interest is strong, and across all degree types." For example, the survey suggests these institutions are more likely to consider hybrid programs. About one-third of respondents listed that as a priority -- the second most popular item after increasing international student enrollment. 

Officials at public institutions also placed a heavy emphasis on international students, but many of their priorities appear to reflect the fact that their institutions have already established more robust online offerings than their independent counterparts. Fully online certificate programs are on the agenda for 41 percent of AASCU members, and while about two-thirds of those respondents already provide support services for online students, another 33 percent plan to do so in the next two years.

Although online programs are more prevalent in public institutions than in private ones, lack of acceptance among faculty members continues to be prevalent. More than half of respondents in AASCU and CIC member institutions said they still encounter that kind of hostility. Both groups still pointed to the time and effort it takes to teach online as the most common barrier they face.

November 5, 2013

Anderson University, a private Christian institution in Indiana, has announced that it will eliminate its French, philosophy and theater majors as part of a plan to deal with financial shortfalls, The Herald Bulletin reported. A total of 16 faculty and staff positions will be eliminated as a result of those and other changes.

 

November 5, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Ali Nayeri of Chapman University discusses the explanatory power of string theory cosmology. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

November 5, 2013

Two reports were issued Monday on medical education:

  • The Blue Ribbon Commission for the Advancement of Osteopathic Medical Education issued a report calling for a shift in osteopathic medical education and residencies away from assumptions based on years of study, to an approach based on measuring "readiness" for residency (in medical school) and "readiness for practice" during residency.
  • New York State received 20 percent of all of Medicare's graduate medical education (GME) funding while 29 states, including some with shortages of physicians, got less than 1 percent, according to a report published  by researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.

 

November 5, 2013

The neediest college students are the least likely to meet the deadlines for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, according to a new study by Mary Feeney, associate professor of public administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The study was published in The Journal of Student Financial Aid. The odds of completing the application go up if the student has a parent or another adult who understands the process who can help.

November 5, 2013

While surveys show that most of those who would be first-generation college students want to attend college, a majority are not prepared to succeed in key courses, according to a report released Monday by ACT and the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE). The study found that 52 percent of first-generation 2013 high school graduates who took the ACT met none of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks. That compares to 31 percent of all ACT-tested graduates who met none of the benchmarks. Only 9 percent of the first generation students met all four benchmarks, while 26 percent of graduates overall did so. The benchmarks specify the minimum scores students must earn on each of ACT’s four subject tests (English, math, reading, and science) to have a 75 percent chance of earning a grade of C or higher in a typical credit-bearing first-year college course in the corresponding subject area.

November 5, 2013

Adjuncts at Whittier College and the University of La Verne, both in Southern California, have filed for a union election with the Service Employees International Union as part of its Adjunct Action project. The national campaign aims to organize adjuncts across metro areas and regionally. “There has been a real need to address the inequities that adjunct faculty face for a long time,” said Fatima Suarez, an adjunct professor of anthropology and sociology at La Verne, said in a news release announcing the union bids, filed with National Labor Relations Board. “We are excited for the opportunity to form a union and win a real voice and a better future for ourselves and our students.” Adjunct Action has seen traction in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where adjuncts at institutions including American and George Washington Universities have voted recently to unionize. In Boston, Tufts University adjuncts voted to unionize this fall, while a Bentley University effort was voted down.

La Verne and Whittier are expected to announce by the end of the week whether they will challenge the bids, according to SEIU. The colleges did not immediately respond to requests for comment. c  resan we replace with statements from the colleges? -sj*****Emailed and did not hear back. Noted deadline---CF

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