Higher Education Quick Takes
The American Political Science Association announced Tuesday that it is canceling this year's annual meeting, which had been scheduled for this week in New Orleans. The APSA originally postponed the start from Wednesday to Thursday, given the hurricane that hit the region Tuesday night. On Monday, the association expressed confidence that people could arrive in time for Thursday sessions, but social media sites have been full of reports of people announcing that they were not going, and that sessions were going to be canceled.
A statement posted on the association website said: "A primary function of the association is to provide the highest quality meeting experience possible. In light of revised information we have from local officials about the trajectory of Isaac, we now anticipate the potential for sustained rain, flooding, power outages and severely restricted transportation into the city on Thursday. Under these circumstances, it is not prudent to convene the meeting.... For all attendees, we will provide additional refund information as soon as we are able. Please bear with us while we work with our vendors and local partners to provide you with detailed information."
Michael Brintnall, executive director of the APSA, said via e-mail that the association was "trying to assess all the implications." He said that the association does "carry meeting insurance to cover both meeting cancellations of this sort, and attenuated attendance had we carried on."
A federal report released Tuesday highlights significant gaps that exist in access to and persistence in American higher education by race and gender -- but has little to say about the sizable inequities that divide Americans from low-income backgrounds from those higher up the income ladder. The statistics in the report track the progress of students by race and gender from early education through their performance in college.
For years, one recruitment tool for colleges has been to buy names of students who take standardized tests, score at certain levels and meet various other criteria. At a time that many colleges are pushing to recruit more foreign students, the Educational Testing Service and Hobsons have announced a new product applying the idea to those taking the TOEFL, one of the exams that foreign applicants may take to demonstrate competence in English. Under the new program, those taking the TOEFL will indicate their willingness to be included in a database from which colleges may purchase names of potential applicants meeting criteria selected by the colleges.
About 470,000 students are on waiting lists for courses at community colleges in California, according to a survey due to be released today, The Los Angeles Times reported. The survey by the state's community college system noted numerous impacts, such as the waiting lists, of a series of deep budget cuts in recent years:
- Enrollment has dropped 17 percent, from about 2.9 million in the 2008-9 academic year to 2.4 million in 2011-12. More declines are expected this year.
- The number of class sections decreased 24 percent from 522,727 in 2008-9 to 399,540 in 2011-12.
- Two-thirds of community colleges in the state report that students are facing longer wait times to see counselors on academic or financial issues, with an average wait time of 12 days.
Campus Reform, a conservative organization, has been inviting students to submit videos of liberal professors, promising $100 if the videos lead to an article for the group. Kieran Healy, a sociologist at Duke University, decided he could make money off the offer, turning himself in as a liberal, with a YouTube video offering evidence of the potentially dangerous books a liberal professor might read. Campus Reform did not respond to an e-mail from Inside Higher Ed asking if Healy would receive $100.
A profile in The Lincoln Journal Star examines the career of Steve Rozman, whom the University of Nebraska at Lincoln fired after students organized an overnight sit-in/protest in the building that housed the Reserve Officers Training Corps. Rozman -- an untenured political scientist -- supported the students, but is also credited with helping resolve the protest without violence. Amid political demands that someone be punished, the university fired him, arguing (successfully in court) that he was not being dismissed for political reasons, but because the protests disrupted a class. Rozman accepted a job in 1972 at Tougaloo College, a historically black institution in Mississippi, and said that he has been very happy there, and is not bitter about his dismissal from Nebraska. At Tougaloo, he leads the Center for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility, and he has created a volunteer income tax assistance program to help low-income taxpayers.
Students who earn associate degrees from for-profit colleges see substantial earnings returns and, in some cases, outperform their peers who hold two-year degrees from community colleges, according to a new research paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. However, students who drop out of two-year degree tracks at for-profits fare worse in the labor market than do their counterparts at community colleges, found the study, which was authored by Stephanie Riegg Cellini, an assistant professor of public policy at George Washington University, and Latika Chaudhary, an assistant professor of economics at Scripps College.
A U.S. district court on Friday dismissed a lawsuit over the mandate that health insurance plans cover contraception from Wheaton College, the evangelical college in Illinois, saying the suit was premature. In its original lawsuit, Wheaton said it was exempt from the administration's one-year "safe harbor" before insurance would have to begin covering all forms of contraception at no cost for female employees, because it had covered some forms of birth control -- including emergency contraception -- on Feb. 10, the cutoff date for the safe harbor.
Since that filing, the Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance that would make Wheaton eligible for the safe harbor, because the college was attempting to end contraception coverage when the safe harbor deadline expired. The Washington, D.C., district court found that Wheaton did not have standing to sue the administration and that the suit was premature because enforcement does not begin until Aug. 1, 2013.
The suit is the third to be dismissed in recent weeks. Belmont Abbey College, a Roman Catholic college in North Carolina, lost a similar court challenge in D.C. in July, as did a suit from several states and Catholic employers (but no colleges) in Nebraska.
In Quebec on Monday, many classes resumed at universities that had effectively been shut down by student strikes, CBC News reported. Most student unions have voted to end their strikes, and a controversial provincial law ordered the resumption of classes. But at the University of Montreal and at the University of Quebec at Montreal, some students remained on strike and attempted to block courses from taking place. Authorities arrested 19 protesters at the University of Montreal.