Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, October 14, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Emily Stark of Minnesota State University at Mankato reveals how the presence of a weapon can greatly diminish an eyewitness’s ability to identify the perpetrator of a crime. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, October 14, 2011 - 3:00am

African-American scholars who earned their Ph.D.s at highly research intensive universities are significantly less likely than white, Latino and Asian peers to be employed at similar universities, a new National Science Foundation study finds. The NSF study examines numerous characteristics of minority Ph.D. recipients in science, engineering and health fields -- from where they earned their doctorates, where they work now, and their rank, status and fields of study at those institutions, among other things -- and the finding on black Ph.D.s is among the most interesting.

While 41.5 percent of all professors who earned doctorates in science, engineering and health fields at American universities with "very high" research activity were employed by such institutions in 2008, the figure was much lower (30.8 percent) for African-Americans. (No other racial group was below 39.1 percent, the figure for Latino scholars.) The study finds that the black scholars were likelier than others to work instead at master's-granting universities, and attributes the finding, in part, to the fact that meaningful numbers of them work at historically black universities, which by and large are master's institutions. That probably accounts for about a third of the gap, estimates Ansley Abraham, director of the Southern Regional Education Board's SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program, and while some of those professors are at HBCUs by choice, because they believe in the institutions' mission, "we don't know how many ended up there because they didn't have other good choices."

Among the study's other findings:

  • Black scholars were significantly less likely than science and health Ph.D. recipients of other races to have earned their doctorates from U.S. universities with very high research activity (63 percent vs. 80 percent for white Ph.D. recipients, 77.1 percent for Hispanics, and 79.3 percent for Asians).
  • About one-third of black, 37 percent of Latino, 91 percent of Asian and 11 percent of white recipients of science, engineering or health Ph.D.s from American universities were not born in the United States.
Friday, October 14, 2011 - 3:00am

  • 2011 Annual Meeting, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, Nov. 13-15, San Francisco.
  • 2011 ASHE Conference, Association for the Study of Higher Education, Nov. 16-19, Charlotte, N.C.
  • Annual Meeting, Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Dec. 3-6, Orlando, Fla.
  • National Meeting, American Mathematical Society, Jan. 4-7, Boston.
  • Annual Meeting, American Historical Association, Jan. 5-8, Chicago.
  • National Legislative Summit, Association of Community College Trustees, Feb. 12-15, Washington.
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    These meetings, conferences, seminars and other events will be held in the coming weeks in and around higher education. They are among the many such that appear in our calendar on The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education. This listing will appear as a regular feature in this space.

     

    To submit a listing, click here.

    Friday, October 14, 2011 - 3:00am

    The instructor at the County College of Morris whose treatment of a student with a stutter was the subject of a front page article in The New York Times says that her treatment of the student has been portrayed unfairly. The original article -- which became the subject of much discussion -- said that the instructor told the student not to speak in class, and refused to call on him when his hand was up throughout a class session. In a new article, the instructor, Elizabeth Snyder, said she asked the student to limit his in-class questions because he was trying to respond throughout class. "He seemed to want to answer every question," she said, and "you’d have to take into consideration the amount of time he takes to get the answer out." Snyder said that "there was never any intent to stop him from speaking." On the day of the class session discussed in the original article, she said, she was trying to cover a lot of material in a limited amount of time, and that she did not call on any other students. Philip Garber, the student who stutters, said that she did call on other students.

    Since the article has appeared, Snyder said that she has received many nasty and threatening e-mail messages, and that she feels her reputation has been destroyed. In May, Snyder was named "educator of the year" by the college’s Educational Opportunity Fund for her work with financially and academically disadvantaged students. She did not comment for the original article, but in an interview for the second article, told the Times that "I’ve been an advocate for kids my entire life. But people’s rush to judgment on this, it feels like it’s pretty much destroyed my life."

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

    The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Wednesday that it had concluded its long investigation into possible recruiting violations involving Auburn University's former star quarterback, Cam Newton. Although the association's terse statement (reproduced in its entirety below) didn't specifically say so, the clear implication was that the inquiry had ended without any findings of wrongdoing. The investigation explored allegations that Newton's father, Cecil, had told Mississippi State University that his son would enroll there for a mere $180,000 payment, which prompted speculation that he might have accepted money to enroll, as he ultimately did, at Auburn. Other players reported that they were paid to attend Auburn, too. But the inquiry was unable to confirm those allegations, the association said.

    The NCAA's statement: "After conducting more than 80 interviews, the NCAA has concluded its investigation into Auburn University. The NCAA enforcement staff is committed to a fair and thorough investigative process. As such, any allegations of major rules violations must meet a burden of proof, which is a higher standard than rampant public speculation online and in the media. The allegations must be based on credible and persuasive information and includes a good-faith belief that the Committee on Infractions could make a finding. As with any case, should the enforcement staff become aware of additional credible information, it will review the information to determine whether further investigation is warranted."

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

    Many anthropologists remain furious at Governor Rick Scott, a Florida Republican, for saying this week that his state doesn't need more graduates in anthropology. Now the Associated Press reports that the governor's daughter, Jordan Kandah, has an anthropology degree from the College of William & Mary. Kandah's career path backs the view of anthropologists that their discipline can be preparation for a variety of fields. She was formerly a special education teacher and recently enrolled in an M.B.A. program.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

    Legislative scholarships in Illinois -- in which state lawmakers get to give out some funds for college to just about anyone in their districts -- have been the source of many scandals, and regular calls for their elimination. They continue, however, to survive. The Chicago Tribune reported that this year, Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, tried to kill the scholarships, by using his authority to extend legislation barring them from being awarded to lawmakers' relatives, to instead kill the entire program. But legislative leaders said that the governor went beyond his power, so they are refusing to go along with the plan to kill the program.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

    Students have not made secret their distaste for Higher One, the company with which many colleges work to issue loan refunds via debit card. At issue are the fees and charges for using the card, which sometimes doubles as a student ID, and the company's and colleges' marketing (which tends to result in students sticking with the card). Nonetheless, a student at Catawba Valley Community College who complained on Facebook about the relationship between the two entities was apparently barred from campus for two semesters because of his comments. Besides criticizing the partnership on the North Carolina college's own Facebook page, he also posted, "Did anyone else get a bunch of credit card spam in their CVCC inbox today? So, did CVCC sell our names to banks, or did Higher One? I think we should register CVCC's address with every porn site known to man. Anyone know any good viruses to send them?" According to a notice of suspension from the college, the student's comment violated a policy against "commission of any other offense which, in the opinion of the administration or faculty, may be contrary to the best interest of the CVCC community." The student has sought help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in his appeal for reinstatement.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

    An appeals court in Florida ruled Wednesday that the state legislature, not the Florida Board of Governors, has ultimate authority to set tuition for public colleges, the News Service of Florida reported. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the state's 1st District Court of Appeal came in a lawsuit brought by a group of citizens (led by the former U.S. Senator Bob Graham) that said a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2002 shifted tuition-setting power from the legislature to the governing board. Those behind the lawsuit said that they would appeal the court's ruling to the state Supreme Court.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

    Florida Atlantic University has announced that is it saving enough money from installing a solar roof on one of its buildings that it can use the extra funds to support a fellowship. The Sun Sentinel reports that the university says that the fellowship is the world's first to be "funded by the sun."

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