Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 30, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Gary Kwiecinski, a professor of biology at the University of Scranton, discusses his research on and efforts to protect bats. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


October 29, 2014

Press accounts are describing dramatic testimony in the second day of the trial of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, which stands accused in a lawsuit in California court of being unfair in its evaluations of City College of San Francisco.

Barbara Beno, president of the commission, made two admissions in testimony Tuesday that were seen by supporters of the college -- whose accreditation the commission voted to revoke -- as key evidence. First, she admitted that when the commission identified new problems at the college, which was at risk of losing accreditation, it did not give the college required time to respond, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Beno made this admission only after a judge told her she hadn't been answering the question and needed to do so.

Second, she admitted that she asked the accrediting team to remove some positive language from the report, and that the team did so. The removed language said that the college “demonstrated a high level of dedication, passion and enthusiasm to address the issues, and provided evidence of compelling action to address previous findings.” Beno told the court that she asked that the passage be removed because she was concerned about a lack of "clarity" in the phrase "compelling action."

The commission has maintained that its findings on City College of San Francisco were appropriate.



October 29, 2014

Wisconsin's attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, this week sued Corinthian Colleges over allegations that the for-profit chain engaged in "unfair, false, misleading and deceptive trade practices." The struggling Corinthian, which is trying to sell or close its 107 campuses, briefly operated an Everest College campus in Milwaukee. The lawsuit alleges that the campus, which closed after just two years, made false claims about job-placement rates.

October 29, 2014

Columbia University has agreed to pay $9 million to settle a federal lawsuit alleging that the university made false claims related to federal grants, Reuters reported. The suit charged that Columbia charged work unrelated to the federal grants to those grants. Columbia admitted to submitting incorrect reports and said that it has made changes to assure that the problem will not happen again, according to the agreement announced by the U.S. attorney for the Southern district of New York.


October 29, 2014

Disadvantaged students who enroll at community colleges and who would not otherwise have attended college are more likely to earn a bachelor's degree in the future, according to a newly released research paper. And while many policies focus on getting students into four-year colleges instead of community colleges, the study found that the vast majority of community college students do not suffer a penalty to their eventual likelihood of completing a bachelor's degree.

The study is based on the college outcomes of high school graduates from Chicago Public Schools. Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of educational policy studies and sociology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison; Jennie Brand, an associate professor of sociology at UCLA; and Fabian T. Pfeffer, a research assistant professor at the University of Michigan, are its authors.

"The anti-community college stigma is overblown and could do real harm to students who find community college to be a very good, low-cost option," Goldrick-Rab said in an email.

October 29, 2014

Our friends at Times Higher Education asked their readers to nominate new words for academics that need to be in the dictionary, but aren't. Among the entries: "spinpact - the art of talking up the relevance of your results," "'shitation -- for an unfavorable citation" and "chancelling -- pocketing large sums for doing little more than proclaiming how indispensable you are."

Inside Higher Ed asked those who follow us on Twitter for their own nominations, and here are some of the good entries:

  • Provosticate -- to create an administrative post with a grandiose title and a job description nobody understands (from Andrew Robinson)
  • Commitifried -- complete cognitive exhaustion from chairing and/or attending an unmanageable number of committee meetings (from Bev Low)
  • Procrastinannotation -- when you can't start writing because there are just a few more texts you need to read first (from Mary Harrison)



October 29, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Heidi Appel and Rex Cocroft, scientists at the University of Missouri, demonstrate the way plants can hear predators. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


October 28, 2014

Bloomberg Philanthropies and other nonprofit groups will today announce a new effort to help talented low-income high school students get into and succeed in college, The New York Times reported. The effort will involve hiring 130 full-time college counselors and 4,000 college students who will be part-time counselors. With video chat and other tools, the counselors will attempt to provide the kind of guidance offered at high schools that serve wealthy students.


October 28, 2014

About 17 percent of undergraduate women who responded to a survey at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have been sexually assaulted, but only 5 percent say they ever reported the crime. Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart said the findings, detailed in a report released by the university on Monday, highlight a challenge in sexual assault prevention and education on campus. (The survey defined assault as "unwanted sexual behaviors involving the use of force, physical threat, or incapacitation.")

Students seem to have differing ideas on what might constitute an assault or how serious of a crime it is, Barnhart said. More than 70 percent of students who did not report the "unwanted sexual experiences" said they didn't believe the misconduct was serious enough to report. MIT began distributing its survey in April, prior to the U.S. Department of Education urging colleges to conduct similar "climate surveys." Legislation announced by eight senators in July would require colleges to undertake such surveys. "What we find from the survey is that we need more education in our community," Barnhart said in a press call. "That's exactly what we're positioning ourselves to do."

October 28, 2014

Nick Saban, head football coach at the University of Alabama, sold his home to the Crimson Tide Foundation for nearly $3.1 million, AL.com reported. The private nonprofit foundation, which helps fund athletics at the university, bought the home from Saban in January 2013 and has paid taxes on the property since then. The coach and his wife still live in the 8,759-square-foot home. "It's not all that unusual in the world for universities to provide the housing," Scott Phelps, assistant secretary of the foundation, said. "We want to keep him happy. We think he is the best coach in America."

Saban earns $6.9 million a year, not including performance bonuses.


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