Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 3:00am

Carolane Williams has been "separated" from her position as president of Baltimore City Community College, the two-year-college's board announced Tuesday, The Baltimore Sun reported. Faculty members voted no confidence in Williams two years ago, and reports have criticized graduation rates at the college. In September, Governor Martin O'Malley, a Maryland Democrat, named five new members of the college's board. "The board strongly believes that the time is right for a leader who will bring new urgency to our urban educational mission," said a statement from the board chair, Rosemary Gillett-Karam.

 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 4:23am

Many public universities have created honors colleges with smaller classes and special privileges for students. Many other public universities shower non-need-based aid on top students. An article in The New York Times looks at how the University of Oklahoma has emphasized those strategies, creating an educational experience for top students (many of them National Merit Scholars) that is decidedly different than that of most other students at the university.

 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jeff Lane of the University of Alberta reveals how shifting weather patterns are disrupting the lifecycle of hibernating mammals. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 3:00am

The disproportionately low employment of minority coaches has long been documented and discussed. A new study focusing on one of the most visible college sports proposes that in top-tier football programs, where nearly half of all athletes are black but only about 10 percent of coaches are, “race is important in channeling, but not necessarily racism.” The disparity is in part due, the study argues, to black and white athletes playing different positions, some of which are more likely to lead to assistant coaching positions, some of which in turn are more likely to lead to head coaching jobs.

The University of Georgia researchers, in an article to be published in Social Science Quarterly, found that quarterbacks, linebackers and tight ends – all positions disproportionately occupied by white players – are more likely to have obtained head coaching positions. Similarly, offensive and defensive coordinators -- the assistant coaching positions that transition most directly to head coaching jobs – are disproportionately occupied by white men. The researchers also note that while 6 percent of white coaches never played football in college, that was not true of any black coaches in the study.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 3:00am

Unions that represent faculty members, teaching assistants, lecturers and others at Michigan's public colleges and universities stand to lose funds (exactly how much isn't clear) under the state's new "right to work" law for public employees. The law says that employees can't be forced to pay anything to unions that represent them. Until now, employees who did not want to join the unions that won collective bargaining elections could opt not to, but they had to make "fair share" payments to cover work done by the unions. (Such payments typically exclude political activity by unions.) Such workers could now pay nothing, if they want.

Republicans who pushed the legislation said that they were trying to "free" workers from unions. David Hecker, president of the American Federation of Teachers in Michigan (the largest union in higher education in the state), said that the move was designed to weaken unions. He noted that unions still must represent workers who don't pay anything, so the measures will leave unions with smaller budgets than they had before. He said that the AFT has not done an estimate of how much the union budgets could shrink, but said that in other states with similar laws, "there has been a hit."

 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 3:00am

Echoing the findings of other reports and statements about doctoral education in recent months, a commission of the American Chemical Society issued a report Monday that urges significant changes in the structure, curriculums, and financing of graduate programs in chemistry to better align the interests of students, institutions and the discipline. Among the recommendations are that the median time to Ph.D. for individual chemistry departments be no more than five years, that financial support for students be uncoupled (to the extent possible) from grants and contracts, and that universities set the size of their doctoral programs based on the availability of "truly attractive opportunities for graduates" in chemical science professions. "A large undergraduate teaching need is not a sufficient justification for a large graduate program," the report states.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 3:00am

It didn't take Bobby Petrino long to get back into coaching. Eight months after the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville fired him as its football coach -- citing the fact that he had hired his mistress to work in the athletics department and then lied about it to his superiors -- Petrino got what his new bosses at Western Kentucky University say is a "second chance." "This is the United States of America, and we're a country of second chances," said the athletics director, Todd Stewart. Oddly, the university's news release about Petrino's hiring focused only on his football exploits.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 3:00am

Kathleen McCartney, dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, was on Monday named as the next president of Smith College. McCartney represents Harvard on the founding board of edX, the online education consortium founded by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She will succeed Carol T. Christ, who has served as president since 2002 and who is stepping down at the end of the academic year.

 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 3:00am

Margaret Crocco announced Monday that she is resigning as dean of the College of Education at the University of Iowa, where her tenure has been controversial, The Des Moines Register reported. Professors have questioned her leadership, and last week all of the members of a faculty advisory committee for the college quit amid reports that administrators ordered some faculty leaders to destroy the results of a survey about Crocco's performance.

 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Stuart Robbins of the University of Colorado at Boulder explains his work mapping craters on the surface of Mars. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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