Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 3:00am

A state judge on Monday ordered Central Michigan University's faculty to return to the classroom, The Detroit News reported, backing a request by university officials for a temporary restraining order halting the strike called Sunday by the faculty union. In a statement posted on the Central Michigan website, university administrators said they expected "all faculty members will comply with the judge’s order immediately so the university can resume normal operations and we can provide the high-quality education our students expect and deserve." After one day on the picket line, sometimes joined by students, leaders of the Faculty Association said they would do so, but they said that their drive for what they consider a reasonable contract will not end. "We will obey the court order and return to work tomorrow," said Laura Frey, president of the union. "The faculty remains strong and committed to securing a fair and equitable contract for members."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 3:00am

Michele M. Moody-Adams, dean of Columbia College at Columbia University, announced over the weekend that she was resigning at the end of the academic year due to disagreements with reorganizations under way in the university administration, The New York Times reported. President Lee Bollinger then said that Moody-Adams would be leaving immediately. Full details of the disagreement are not available, but the e-mail from Moody-Adams announcing her departure said that changes under consideration would “transform the administrative structure” of the faculty of arts and sciences, compromising her authority over “crucial policy, fund-raising and budgetary matters.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 3:00am

Texas Governor Rick Perry's controversial higher education platform may be coming to a college near you -- if you're at a college or university in Florida. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Florida's governor, Rick Scott, has been sharing the philosophical framework for Perry's performance-based vision for public colleges and universities -- the Texas Public Policy Foundation's "Seven Breakthrough Solutions" -- with candidates he is considering for trustee positions. "It does get the conversation going," Scott told the newspaper, referring to ideas like creating "separate budgeting and reward systems for teaching and research, making it possible to reward exceptional individuals in each area," and allocating state aid through vouchers for students in place of institutional support. Faculty leaders in Florida are not excited about the potential export from the Lone Star State. "People are just mortified by it," said Tom Auxter, president of United Faculty of Florida, the statewide faculty union. "The devil is alive and well in those details."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 3:00am

Students in education courses are given consistently higher grades than are students in other college disciplines, according to a study published by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research Monday. The study, by Cory Koedel, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Missouri at Columbia, cites that and other evidence to make the case that teachers are trained in "a larger culture of low standards for educators," in line with "the low evaluation standards by which teachers are judged in K-12 schools."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, DePaul University's Joe Schwieterman explains a new trend that has more people renting cars and reveals why the practice should be encouraged. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 3:00am

It's time to feel old again. Beloit College has released its annual "mindset" list about the world view of the new class of freshmen (at least those enrolling straight from high school). Among the things to know about this year's frosh, according to the list:

  • There has always been an Internet ramp onto the information highway.
  • Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson could be their parents.
  • Amazon has never been just a river in South America.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show has always been available on TV.
  • Andy Warhol is a museum in Pittsburgh.

The complete list is available here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 3:00am

A business law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles has set off a debate over the appropriateness of the UCLA law school accepting a $10 million gift from Lowell Milken to create a business law institute, The New York Times reported. Lowell Milken is the younger brother of Michael Milken and worked with his more famous brother in the junk bond business. Michael Milken pleaded guilty to securities law violations when the government agreed to drop criminal charges against Lowell, but the Securities and Exchange Commission barred both brothers from the securities industry. Lowell Milken never admitted wrongdoing in these cases.

Lynn A. Stout, a business law professor, wrote to senior officials saying: “The creation of a Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy will damage my personal and professional reputation, as I have devoted my career to arguing for investor protection and honest and ethical behavior in business." Many other UCLA professors, the Times reported, have no problem with the gift.

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:00am

The United States Department of Education has fined Washington State University $82,500 for improperly reporting two reported sex assaults, the Associated Press reported. The university is appealing the fine -- the result of an audit of crime reporting procedures -- but also says that it has improved its system since the inquiry. In one incident, a reported assault was recorded as a "domestic dispute" when it may have involved a rape. In the other, the university's police report of an alleged assault listed it as "unfounded" after the victim decided not to provide details, but the person who made that determination did not have the authority to do so.

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:00am

For the first time, students will pay more in total to attend the University of California in 2011-12 than the 10-campus system will receive in state funding, the Los Angeles Times reported. While this has been true for other public colleges and universities for some time, UC's historically low tuition and California's historically strong support for public higher education have kept these lines from crossing only now. But with California's budget in tatters, UC, like many public institutions, has raised tuitions to make up for the lost state funds. "When these things happen, how often do they reverse themselves?" the Times quoted Patrick Lenz, the university's vice president of budget and capital resources, as saying. "Never."

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:00am

The Faculty Senate of Southern University at Baton Rouge has rejected a request to approve furloughs for professors, and to shorten the time required before jobs may be eliminated, The Advocate reported. The vote followed statements from President James Llorens that he is likely to ask the Southern board to declare financial exigency in the next week, unless he could get furloughs accepted. That would allow the university, among other things, to dismiss tenured professors. Faculty leaders said that more money could be saved with administrative cuts before furloughs would be needed or declaring financial exigency would be appropriate.

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