Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 31, 2014

Lake Superior State University today releases its annual "List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness." The list has been released each year since the start of 1976.

This year's list, which includes several words and phrases popular in academe, follows, with some of the explanations offered by the university and by those who nominated the words.

  • Bae –“I’d rather be called ‘babe’ than ‘bae’ any day.” -- Alexsis Outwater, Bronson, Mich.
  • Polar vortex
  • Hack -- Banished for over-use and mis-use
  • Skill set -- “Why use two words when one will do? We already have a perfectly good word in ‘skills’ (ending with an s, not a z).” – Chip Lupo, Columbia, S.C.
  • Swag
  • Foodie -- “It's ridiculous. Do we call people who like wine ‘winies’ or beer lovers ‘beeries’?” – Randall Chamberlain, Traverse City, Mich.
  • Curate / curated - “It used to have a special significance reserved mainly for fine art and museums. Now everything is curated. Monthly food and clothing subscription boxes claim to be finely ‘curated.’ Instead of abusing curated, why don't they say what they really mean: ‘We did an online search and posted the first 25 items we found’ or the ‘curated selection of items in your box this month are a mix of paid placements and products that have failed to sell elsewhere.’” – Samantha McCormick, Kirkland, Wash.
  • Friend-raising -- “A horrible word that conflates the real meaning of friendship with usually hidden motivations to get at the other person's pockets.” – Mary Been, Sidnaw, Mich.
  • Cra-cra -- That’s just crazy.
  • Enhanced interrogation -- “A shameful euphemism for torture.” – David Bristol, Byron Center, Mich.
  • Takeaway
  • -Nation – a suffering sports suffix


December 30, 2014

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law Tuesday a bill that bans college athletes at public universities from joining unions. The legislation, which passed the Michigan Senate earlier this month, requires all college athletes to be classified as "students," preventing them from being classified as employees.

There's been no indication that such an attempt to unionize was taking place at Michigan's public universities, and the legislation was apparently in response to the ongoing unionization efforts of athletes at Northwestern University, a private university in Illinois. (The National Labor Relations Board oversees unionization issues at private institutions, but states govern unionization rules for state employees.) “The Republican Legislature has done so much union busting over the years that now they've resorted to busting unions that don’t even exist," a spokesman for Progress Michigan, a progressive marketing group, told Michigan Live.

December 30, 2014

What’s left of the bankrupt Lehman Brothers is suing Saint Louis University for about $18 million. Lehman Brothers Holdings, the legal remnant of the investment bank that went bankrupt in 2008, alleges the university failed to uphold its side of a complicated financial deal known as an interest rate swap.

The university terminated the deal within months of Lehman’s bankruptcy. When it ended the deal, the university was supposed to calculate a value for what it owed Lehman. Under the method it used, it paid Lehman about $24 million. Lehman’s lawyers said the university came to that figure in an “unreasonable manner” and actually owed about $42 million. Now, Lehman wants $17.9 million more, plus interest.

In a statement, Saint Louis University said, “This is a complex financial matter that the university is confident will be resolved in its favor.”


December 30, 2014

Many readers of Sunday's "Doonesbury" wondered if that edition of the comic -- which takes colleges' handling of sexual assault issues as its target -- was a mistake in that it featured a comment about the University of Virginia, The Washington Post reported. Readers posted comments citing the way Rolling Stone has admitted flaws in its article about a woman's recollection of being gang raped in a U.Va. fraternity, and some speculated that the cartoon was planned after the article was first appeared but before it was discredited.

Garry Trudeau, the comic strip's creator, said Monday that he didn't think the numerous questions raised about the Rolling Stone article about U.Va. required any change in the comic strip. “We had some internal discussion about whether the flaws in the [Rolling Stone] reporting mattered here, and we concluded they didn’t,” Trudeau told the Post. “U.Va. is only used as setup to get the reader to consider the larger problem of institutions prioritizing their reputations over the welfare of those they’re charged with safeguarding. That issue has remained front and center, and even U.Va. recognizes that sloppy reporting doesn’t change the fact that they have a huge problem within their culture.”

In a comment to Inside Higher Ed, he clarified that "the internal conversation referenced took place after it was too late to make changes. It was a post-facto damage assessment, in which we apparently overestimated the ability of some readers to focus on the point of the strip as opposed to details that were clearly dated. If I had been able to make changes, obviously I would have. No one deliberately creates opportunities for critics to change the subject."

The full strip may be seen at the bottom of the link from the Post article.

December 29, 2014

Georgia legislators have been boasting about a new ethics law that imposes strict reporting requirements on lobbyists and bars lawmakers from accepting anything worth more than $75. But The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the new law exempts interactions with the public higher education system. As a result, public universities have been able to continue to lobby (without reporting on their activities) and to provide valuable gifts in the form of tickets to athletic events and expensive meals. During the fall, universities spent more than $20,000 on football tickets and meals and other events on game days.

Speaker of the House David Ralston, a Republican, defended the exemption for higher education. "These state employees serve as an informational resource to legislators on matters pertaining to state government operations which occasionally may include meetings or site visits to public institution,” he said.

December 26, 2014

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has revived a lawsuit, dismissed by a lower court, charging the law school of the University of the District of Columbia with race and gender discrimination against Stephanie Brown, a black woman who was denied tenure. The ruling did not cover the merits of the case, in which the university denies wrongdoing. The ruling noted that Brown had published one journal article and had another accepted at the point at which she was denied tenure. And while this output falls short of the law school's three-publication requirement for tenure, she said that a white male candidate hadn't published anything, but was awarded tenure based on other contributions to the law school. The court ruled that this was enough evidence to merit full consideration of her claims by the lower court.



December 25, 2014

The Modern College of Northwest University, located in Xian, China, has banned students from celebrating Christmas, Reuters reported. Banners are displayed around campus with slogans such as, "Strive to be outstanding sons and daughters of China, oppose kitsch Western holidays" and, "Resist the expansion of Western culture."


December 24, 2014

Students at Hebrew University of Jerusalem will have Thursday off in celebration of Christmas, The Jerusalem Post reported. This year will be the first with Christmas as a university day off. The university is also giving a new day off for the Muslim holiday Id al-Adha. A spokesman said that the days off were added “in order to accommodate students of all religions studying at the university and to respect the holidays.”

December 23, 2014

The National Student Clearinghouse is celebrating the holiday season by releasing Santa's transcript. He double majored in business administration and adolescent behavior at North Pole University, taking courses such as celestial navigation and reindeer breeding. The clearinghouse, always sensitive to federal privacy laws, noted that Santa gave permission for his transcript (see below) to be released.

If anyone has Judah Maccabee's transcript -- we believe he studied political science at the University of Modiin -- we would share that document as well.

December 22, 2014

Bowdoin College announced Monday that it will provide full financial aid to Justin Ramos, a sophomore who is the son of one of the police officers who was slain Saturday in New York City. A statement from the college pledged full support for Ramos. "This is in keeping with Bowdoin’s practice of meeting the full financial need of each of our students for all four years. We are grateful for the Yankee Silver Shield Foundation’s offer to assist, but Bowdoin has it covered," the statement said.



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