Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 3:00am

Legislation proposed in Wyoming would expand the board of the University of Wyoming from 12 to 14, allowing the additional two board members to come from outside the state, The Casper Star-Tribune reported. Proponents say that there are loyal supporters of the university who no longer reside in the state, but who could provide expertise to the board. One reason for the possible change: A majority of the university's graduates end up living outside the state.

 

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 3:00am

Bev Kearney has resigned as women's track and field coach at the University of Texas at Austin following an investigation into what she called a “consensual intimate relationship” with "an adult student-athlete." The Austin American-Statesman reported. The relationship took place in 2002, but was only recently reported to the university. In an interview with the Austin newspaper, Kearney said that she "displayed poor judgment," but questioned the way the university has investigated what happened. Her lawyer told the newspaper: "We believe that Ms. Kearney has been subjected to a double standard and has received far harsher punishment than that being given to her male counter-parts who have engaged in similar conduct."

Patti Ohlendorf, vice president for legal affairs at UT, told the American-Statesman, “In the case of a head coach and a student-athlete on his or her team, the university’s position is that that cannot be condoned in any event. ‘It can’t happen’ is what the university’s position is on that.”

Since 1993, Kearney's teams at Texas have won six national championships.

 

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 3:00am

In a white paper released today, the Institute for Higher Education Policy calls for several changes to the financial aid system, part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery project, which gave grants to organizations to recommend what changes they would make to federal financial aid. The institute calls for making the Pell Grant an entitlement and keeping it at the center of need-based student aid programs, but making larger changes to other student aid programs. Among its suggestions: reforming the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant to provide "emergency" financial aid to students; rewarding completion, including a form of loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients who complete college on time; tying campus-based aid to student debt repayment levels; matching college savings for low-income households and encouraging employers to match employees' student loan repayments for the first five years after graduation.

Several more papers in the Gates effort are expected from other organizations and advocacy groups in the coming weeks.

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 4:18am

The financial payoff of earning an M.B.A. appears to be shrinking. The Wall Street Journal reported that for M.B.A. graduates with up to three years of experience, median pay was $53,900 in 2012, down 4.6 percent from 2007-8. Average salaries dropped for graduates of at 62 percent of the 186 business schools examined in an analysis by the Journal and PayScale.com.

 

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 3:00am

Hamline University has suspended its head basketball coach, dismissed a player from the basketball team and suspended 14 other players following an alleged assault of a woman after the team's game against Whitworth College, The Star Tribune reported. The player who was dismissed from the team (and suspended from the university) was charged with assaulting the woman. The university forfeited a game Saturday against Gustavus Adolphus College because of all of the suspensions.

 

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 3:00am

Proposed rules issued by the Internal Revenue Service note concerns among some colleges about how to calculate when adjunct faculty members should be considered to be working close enough to full-time to be entitled to employee health insurance under the new health-care legislation. Some colleges -- worried about being required to provide health insurance -- have been cutting adjunct hours so the institutions can be sure that the adjuncts wouldn't fall under the new law. Faculty advocates have said that these moves are unfair and represent an over-reaction to the situation. (Most faculty leaders say that colleges should be paying the health insurance for these adjuncts anyway.)

The IRS proposed rules explain that "some commenters noted that educational organizations generally do not track the full hours of service of adjunct faculty, but instead compensate adjunct faculty on the basis of credit hours taught. Some comments suggested that hours of service for adjunct faculty should be determined by crediting three hours of service per week for each course credit taught. Others explained that some educational organizations determine whether an adjunct faculty member will be treated as a full-time employee by comparing the number of course credit hours taught by the adjunct faculty member to the number of credit hours taught by typical non- adjunct faculty members working in the same or a similar discipline who are considered full-time employees."

The proposed rules don't take a stand on how best to determine the hours actually worked by those who are not full-timers, and suggest that more guidance will be coming. However the IRS does state that colleges need to use "reasonable" methods for counting hours. It would "not be a reasonable method of crediting hours to fail to take into ... in the case of an instructor, such as an adjunct faculty member, to take into account only classroom or other instruction time and not other hours that are necessary to perform the employee’s duties, such as class preparation time," the document says.

 

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 4:20am

A new analysis released by the National Bureau of Economic Research (abstract available here) tracks the changes among the five leading economics journals from 1970 to 2012. Among the trends over that time span:

  • Annual submissions to the top-5 journals nearly doubled.
  • The total number of articles published declined from 400 per year to 300 per year.
  • One journal, American Economic Review, now accounts for 40 percent of publications among these five publications, up from 25 percent.
  • Papers are on average three times longer.

 

 

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 3:00am

Scientists in China are calling for reforms of the system of distributing funds for research, China Daily reported. Government officials and university administrators now make some of the decisions about which projects should be funded. Scientists want senior scholars to play more of a role, since they understand the potential of various projects seeking funding.

 

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Thomas House of the University at Warwick reveals how mathematical models are increasing our understanding of how epidemics move through a population. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Monday, January 7, 2013 - 3:00am

In Wisconsin, the average faculty member at the state's technical college system earned more in 2011-12 than the average faculty member at the state's university system, according to an analysis by Gannett Wisconsin Media. The reason is "overages," pay that faculty members in the state for teaching more than the required number of courses. Overage pay averaged $12,000 per technical college faculty member, compared to $1,400 for University of Wisconsin professor. And 67 technical college instructors earned more than $50,000 in overage pay.

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