Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 15, 2013

Iranian President Hassan Rohani is calling for more freedom for students and professors at his country's universities, Radio Liberty reported. In a speech at Tehran University, Rohani said that he thought it a "shame" that professors and students "are not able to express their viewpoints." Further, he said that government officials should stop blocking scholars from attending international academic conferences.

 

October 15, 2013

Newly-released data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center tracks how 2.3 million high school graduates fared in transitioning to college over a three-year period. The report from the nonprofit Clearinghouse sets benchmarks for the college-going rates of public high school graduates, with specific categories for low-income, high-minority and urban high schools.

October 15, 2013

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, a Republican, on Monday released an audit he commissioned that found possible fraud and waste, conflicts of interest and poor governance at Alabama State University, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. The governor's office said that the report had been turned over to state and federal authorities. Further, the governor called on Alabama State's board to stop a search for a new president until some of the issues raised in the audit could be resolved. The university responded with a statement saying that the governor had violated an agreement to allow Alabama State officials to review and respond to the findings. The university's statement questioned many of the findings, and said that the findings were suspect because they came from "a firm that was handpicked by the governor without a bid and was paid for by funds under his control."

October 15, 2013

California needs a new higher education master plan to replace the "obsolete" guiding principles state leaders embraced more than 50 years ago, and the new approach should embrace online education so the state is once again an innovator rather than the "reluctant follower" it has become, argues a new report from an influential state agency. The report from the Little Hoover Commission, "A New Plan for a New Economy: Reimagining Higher Education," paints a critical picture of the current state of higher education in California, with a need to produce many more citizens with college credentials at a time when the state has "finite resources for higher education."

Among its many recommendations, the panel urges that lawmakers provide "incentives for developing online courses for high-demand introductory courses, bottleneck prerequisite courses and remedial courses that demonstrate effective learning. To qualify, the course must be able to be awarded course and unit credit, at a minimum, at all California community colleges, or all California state universities, or all campuses of the University of California. Better yet would be courses that would be awarded credit at any campuses of all three segments. Courses could be designed by private or nonprofit entities according to college and university criteria."

October 15, 2013

An Australian businessman who made his fortune mining precious metals will donate $65 million to support research fellowships and scholarships at five universities in Western Australia, The Australian reported. Andrew Forrest, who heads Fortescue Metals Group, will donate $50 million to create the Forrest Foundation, which will fund grants at the University of Western Australia and four other institutions in the region, and $15 million to build a residential college for rising research stars at Western Australia. The gift is among the largest in the history of Australian higher education, the newspaper reported.

As part of the donation, a new $50m Forrest Foundation will be set up to fund scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships at UWA and WA's four other universities.

- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/forrest-digs-deep-with-...

As part of the donation, a new $50m Forrest Foundation will be set up to fund scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships at UWA and WA's four other universities.

- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/forrest-digs-deep-with-...

 

October 15, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Keith Sanford of Baylor University explores the psychology behind the average domestic argument. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 15, 2013

University of the Kansas’ Faculty Senate has voted to affirm free speech rights and academic freedom for faculty members, following the removal from the classroom last month of a professor who made headlines last for his anti-National Rifle Association Twitter remark. "The University of Kansas Faculty Senate endorses the principles of First Amendment rights, academic freedom, and due process, and will work to see that these principles are followed with respect to all faculty,” reads the statement, which the Senate unanimously approved last week, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

The statement does not mention by name David Guth, the professor of communications who was suspended from teaching after he posted the following tweet in the aftermath of the Washington Navy Yard shootings: "The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you." A separate statement by the Senate's Committee on Faculty Rights, Privileges and Responsibilities about Guth's case references extramural utterances, which “rarely bear upon the faculty member’s fitness for the position.” Guth initially defended his remarks, saying he was tweeting as a private citizen; later he said he agreed with the university to begin a planned sabbatical early. Kansas has said his removal from teaching was not a punitive action, but an attempt to maintain classroom order, given the amount of attention his comments received, including physical threats. The Senate committee disagreed, saying in its statement that the move appeared to be a sanction, “applied without compliance with university rules and regulations,” and faculty handbook. (Note: This paragraph has been updated from an earlier version.)

Guth declined to comment. A university spokeswoman said she had no update on his case, and did not respond to a request for comment about the Senate statement. In an e-mail, Christopher Steadham, law librarian and Faculty Senate chair, said the vote was prompted "by the wide range of perspectives that faculty members across campus had shared with Faculty Senate leadership," and that the body had intentionally avoided taking any position on Guth's being put on paid leave, to avoid "injecting prejudice" into his case. Shared governance representatives will participate in his review, a date for which was not available.

 

 

October 15, 2013

A new report from LearningWorks, a nonprofit group that focuses on California community colleges, takes a look at experiments to reform remedial mathematics by emphasizing preparation in statistics and quantitative reasoning rather than the intermediate algebra pathway that students have traditionally taken. The report found that those experiments are being driven by a deepening belief that: "on the basis of a weakly predictive test, large numbers of students are being prevented from completing college unless they pass a challenging course that may be irrelevant to their futures."

October 14, 2013

More medical colleges are  managing conflicts of interest in clinical care, but most still do not meet national standards for dealing with conflicts, according to a study released Friday by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession.  Researchers looked at medical colleges' policies in 2011, and found that nearly two-thirds of medical colleges did not have policies to limit ties to industry in a least one of the areas the study examined, which included gifts, meals, drug samples and payments for travel, consulting and speaking. None of the 133 medical colleges met all of the standards for the 12 areas examined, but a number of medical colleges made progress toward national standards since the institute's previous study, based on 2008 data. The proportion of medical colleges with no policies dropped from more than 25 percent in 2008 to less than 2 percent in 2011.

“We are pleased that the authors recognize the substantial efforts that medical schools have taken over the past several years to strengthen their conflict of interest policies,” said Heather Price, senior director of science policy for the Association of American Medical Colleges.

A majority of the medical schools have no policies or permissive policies for accepting drug samples and industry-funded continuing medical education, consulting, honoraria and speakers’ bureaus, according to the study. The findings should prompt medical school administrators to “take bolder steps to rid medicine of industry influence and preserve public trust,” said David Rothman, the institute's president and the study's co-author.

 

 

October 14, 2013

Pressure is growing on the board of Westfield State University to remove Evan Dobelle as president. Dobelle has been accused of lavish and inappropriate spending on travel and personal items. Richard Freeland, commission of higher education in Massachusetts said Friday that it was "highly questionable" that Dobelle remain in office, The Boston Globe reported. While Dobelle has defended his record, and said that he is reimbursed the state for inappropriate expenses, Freeland said that the record shows Dobelle to have engaged in "repeated examples of inappropriate behavior," and that "it would be hard to overstate the damage that has been done to the reputation of our public colleges and universities." A spokesman for Dobelle said that the Freeland statements "were evidence of a well coordinated public relations attack to mask political agendas."

 

 

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