Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 3:00am

It's fashionable among some governors and pundits to suggest that the only way for students to get ahead economically these days is to embrace the most utilitarian of majors. So the results of an analysis by Bloomberg Businessweek may be of interest. The magazine wanted to see which undergraduate colleges produced the students with the highest GMAT scores at the top 114 M.B.A. programs. The college whose graduates scored highest and ended up in the leading business schools is an institution where you can major in ancient history, film studies or anthropology, but not business. Swarthmore College topped the list. To be fair, those at some of the other institutions on the top 10 could have majored in business or related fields. Also of potential interest: 6 of the top 10 were colleges outside the United States. They include three in India, one in Canada, one in China and one in Britain.

 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Angel Yanagihara of the University of Hawaii reveals what makes the venom of the box jelly so deadly. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 3:00am

Wayne Watson was hired as president of Chicago State University in 2009 over strong objections of faculty members, who noted that he had clashed with professors while leading the City Colleges of Chicago. Board members, however, said that he would improve enrollment figures and repair ties with the faculty. On Monday, the university announced Watson was leaving. Enrollment has dropped and the faculty voted no confidence in him last year, The Chicago Tribune reported. Board members said that they felt the university needed new leadership. Watson did not comment. He was midway through the fourth year of a five-year contract, and will now receive a one-year sabbatical at his $250,000 salary.

 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 3:00am

The government of the United Arab Emirates on Monday released a statement explaining its decision to briefly detain Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, who teaches government at the London School of Economics and Political Science, when he arrived in Dubai for a conference his institution co-sponsored with the American University of Sharjah. He was barred from entering the country and was sent back to Britain -- at which point the London School of Economics called off the conference. Ulrichsen said he believed he was kept out because he has written critically about the government of Bahrain, and the government statement essentially confirmed this.

The statement: "Dr. Coates Ulrichsen was scheduled to speak on the current political situation in Bahrain. The UAE is a strong supporter of efforts by the Government of Bahrain and the opposition parties to resolve their situation through peaceful dialogue. Dr Coates Ulrichsen has consistently propagated views de-legitimizing the Bahraini monarchy. The UAE took the view that at this extremely sensitive juncture in Bahrain's national dialogue it would be unhelpful to allow non-constructive views on the situation in Bahrain to be expressed from within another GCC state. This decision in no way reflects the strong ties with both the AUS and LSE and their academic excellence, however, in this very specific case, it was important to avoid disruption at a difficult point in Bahrain's national dialogue process which we fully support."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 3:00am

A prominent Singaporean academic who has been critical of the country's ruling party was denied tenure for a second time. Cherian George, an associate professor of journalism at Nanyang Technological University, has written about the restrictions on the press imposed by the People's Action Party. Although George was denied tenure on the ostensible basis that he did not meet NTU’s standards for teaching and research, one of his external reviewers, Karin Wahl-Jorgensen of Cardiff University, said she found that claim to be “blatantly absurd."

“His record is stellar in both respects, so much so that he could easily get a full professorship elsewhere in my estimation,” said Wahl-Jorgensen. "In addition to being a popular teacher and a well-known public intellectual, his academic profile demonstrates excellence in research and a significant international standing, as well as an extremely high degree of productivity.”

“To put it bluntly I am baffled by this decision and worried about what it means for academic freedom in Singapore,” she said.

As of Monday evening, more than 500 people had signed an online petition attesting to George’s "stellar teaching credentials." George declined to comment on the tenure denial. In a written statement, a NTU spokesman described the tenure review process as being "purely a peer-driven academic exercise" and said the university does not comment on specific cases. (Note: this article has been updated to incorporate NTU's response.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 4:18am

Arkansas legislators gave final approval Monday to a bill, expected to be signed into law by the governor, that gives public colleges and universities the option of allowing faculty and staff members to carry concealed weapons on campus, the Associated Press reported. The boards of colleges that don't give their employees that option would be required to reconsider the policy every year. Arkansas higher education leaders opposed an earlier version of the legislation, which would not have allowed colleges to opt out of concealed carry for campus employees. But the opposition was dropped after the bill was amended to make this an option, not a requirement, for colleges.

 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 3:00am

Despite headlines about the rising price of a college degree, fewer families are saving money for college and fewer have a plan to pay than in the past, according to a survey released today by Sallie Mae. The annual survey about families' saving habits found that only 50 percent of families with children younger than 18 were saving for college, a drop of 10 percentage points from 2010. On top of that, 16 percent of respondents said they were saving less than the previous year, citing unexpected expenses, higher cost of living, and lower income. When asked to describe their feelings about saving for college, parents were more likely to say that they felt overwhelmed, annoyed, frustrated, or that they don't like thinking about it than they were to say they were confident.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 4:22am

Senate Republicans are raising new questions about payments Jack Lew, President Obama's nominee to become treasury secretary, received upon leaving a top position at New York University, The New York Times reported. Lew left the position of executive vice president in 2006 to take a post at Citigroup. On Monday it was revealed that Lew -- who was earning in excess of $700,000 a year since starting at NYU in 2001 -- received an exit payment of $625,000. While deferred compensation and bonuses are common for long-time leaders or presidents of colleges and universities, Lew's tenure at NYU was not exceptionally long. NYU officials said that the payment reflected his successful work at the university.

One of the Republicans reviewing Lew's nomination is Charles Grassley of Iowa, who regularly raises questions about salaries and benefits provided by nonprofit organizations. "Mr. Lew’s track record of getting well paid by taxpayer-supported institutions raises questions about his regard for who pays the bills,” Grassley said. “The problem of colleges that always seem to find money for the executive suite even as they raise tuition is not unique to New York University. However, New York University is among the most expensive, has a well-funded endowment, and has high student debt loads. It should explain how its generous treatment of Mr. Lew and other executives is necessary to its educational mission."

Monday, February 25, 2013 - 3:00am

Paid interns received salaries 2 percent higher in the summer of 2012 than they did in 2011, but the rate of increase slowed from the year before, when salaries rose 6.4 percent, according to a new survey by the research and consulting form Intern Bridge. The 2012 Intern Salary Report found that interns were paid on average $13.50 an hour, up from $13.25 an hour in 2011. Many industries paid less in 2012 than they did the year before, but Robert Shindell, vice president of Intern Bridge, said the losses were likely offset by bigger gains in business and engineering. The majors of students who saw the steepest wage declines were mechanic and repair technicians; science technologies; communications technologies; family and consumer sciences; and area, ethnic, cultural and gender studies. The Department of Labor requires companies who employ interns to either pay them or ensure they receive academic credit.

Monday, February 25, 2013 - 3:00am

For years, veterinary medicine has been a field with a limited number of slots for students and, theoretically, good career prospects. But after years in which enrollments have grown and the numbers of pets and veterinary visits in the United States have declined, new veterinarians are facing a debt crunch, The New York Times reported. Salaries have fallen, and the average debt to income ratio for new D.V.M.s is now twice that of M.D.s.

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