Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 3:00am

Jean-Lou Chameau announced Tuesday that he will be stepping down as president of the California Institute of Technology, and will take a position leading the new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, in Saudi Arabia. In a letter to the campus, Chameau said that he and his wife had until recently "believed we would complete our careers at Caltech and retire in Pasadena. It would be difficult not to feel that way when working in such a special place and community. We did not expect, however, to be presented with a unique and life-changing opportunity: to lead the recently created King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. As I considered accepting the position at KAUST and as I spoke with individuals involved in its founding, I was struck by the attention paid to establishing a culture of excellence, and how its planning had been influenced by great institutions from around the world, including Caltech."


Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 3:00am

Texas legislators are rallying around Bill Powers, the University of Texas at Austin president who may be the target of another ouster attempt by regents close to Governor Rick Perry, the Associated Press reported. Lieut. Governor David Dewhurst on Tuesday announced plans for Senate hearings on whether the UT Board of Regents is meddling too much into the decisions Powers makes. Further, he denounced what he called "character assassination" of Powers and his family in the form of anonymous letters he said are circulating among board members. Dewhurst did not offer specifics on the letters.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 3:00am

A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that there may be an economic payoff to attending a diverse college. The study compared individuals who answered questions in the Add Health database (which covers a wide range of issues). The analysis finds "a positive link" between attending colleges with more diversity and higher earning levels and family income levels. No link was found to greater rates of voting or higher levels of education.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Ed Baptist of Cornell University explores the cultural and economic importance of cotton in antebellum America. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 3:00am

The presidents of 17 Sisters of Mercy colleges, along with educators at 32 secondary schools and 9 elementary schools affiliated with the order, have issued a letter calling for new measures to promote "a culture of non-violence" in American society. "The unspeakable use of a military assault weapon to massacre elementary school children compels us as leaders in Mercy education to speak, to say 'enough.'" says the letter. It calls for "sensible gun control measures" and "robust funding of mental health services." Further, it says that "for the sake of our children and young adults,  we reject the overly simplistic belief that increasing armed security personnel in schools will increase student safety."

The letter was signed by the presidents of these colleges and universities: Carlow University, College of St. Mary (Nebraska), Georgian Court University, Gwynedd-Mercy College, Maria College (New York),  Marian Court College, Mercyhurst University, Misericordia University, Mount Aloysius College, Mount Mercy University, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, Saint Xavier University (Illinois), Salve Regina University, Trocaire College, University of Detroit Mercy, University of Saint Joseph (Connecticut) and Mercy College of Health Sciences (Iowa).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 4:23am

Harvard University's investment arm has created a new position -- vice president for sustainable investing -- which will focus on the environmental, social and corporate governance issues related to Harvard's investments, The Boston Globe reported. While various groups have over the years urged Harvard to refrain from or sell certain kinds of investments, the university has generally focused on obtaining the greatest return. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 3:00am

Another sign of the competition among MOOCs (massive online open courses) for the global student population: The all-British MOOC provider on Monday announced an expansion and British Prime Minister David Cameron promoted the offerings during a trip to India. Cameron said that the expansion of Futurelearn (as the MOOC provider is called) "will mean that Indian students can access some of the best teaching and learning online from their home in Mumbai or Delhi." And a statement from Simon Nelson, CEO of Futurelearn, noted the international competition. "Until now, this market has been dominated by companies based in the U.S., but with 18 U.K. partners, we are determined to provide the smartest and most engaging online learning experiences and revolutionize conventional models of education."

The new members of Futurelearn are the British Library, Queen's University Belfast and the Universities of Bath, Leicester, Nottingham and Reading.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 3:00am

Catawba College has announced that some applicants no longer have to submit SAT or ACT scores. The option will be available to those with a high school grade-point average of at least 3.25. Those who opt not to submit SAT or ACT scores will need to submit additional materials, including an "extracurricular and leadership résumé," as well as a personal statement.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 3:00am

Critics of Emory University President James Wagner don't appear to be satisfied by his apology for a letter in the alumni magazine in which he suggested the Constitution's three-fifths compromise was a model for how opposing parties can work together. While Wagner issued an apology for his wording and for the hurt it caused, students and faculty members report considerable discussion taking place (much of it online) about anger over the original statement. The Black Students Alliance and the NAACP chapter at the university are planning a rally Wednesday. They also will draw attention to other issues of concern, such as a student-run television show that in December referenced the Supreme Court case on affirmative action in college admissions and urged viewers to help identify students who "shouldn’t be here and are only at the school because of affirmative action." Methods suggested for finding such students included lynching, tarring and feathering, and cross-burning. (The university and the students who produced the show have apologized.)

Some of Wagner's critics used social media Monday to express their views, with a fake Twitter account in the president's name and with a new blog called "At Emory: We Are Sorry." The latter features images and words: a photo of the president with only three-fifths of the image visible, text from James Baldwin about the way the United States limited the rights of black people, a photo of an Emory student holding a sign saying "Sorry, everybody. I wasn't expecting someone to praise the 3/5 compromise in the year 2013 either." The site was created as "a way for us to signal to everyone else that the messages being sent out from Emory do not necessarily express the views of the students and faculty whose work is the actual backbone of the school."

On Emory's Facebook page, comments are mixed. Some of those posting are angry with Wagner. But other posts say that critics are trying to embarrass the president because of recent budget cuts with which they disagree. One comment along these lines: "Stop the faux outrage. You live privileged academic lives at one of the best institutions in America. In a time where every institution is tightening, you all have the gall to intentionally distort this man's words. Character assassination isn't going to help restructure the university's budget."

i have call/e-mail out to emory to see whether any further steps are planned by wagner -sj


Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of Oxford announced Monday that it is temporarily blocking access to Google Docs, citing a series of "phishing" attacks in which people have used Google Docs to collect e-mail addresses linked to the university's network. A statement from Oxford said: "We appreciate and apologize for the disruption this caused for our users. Nevertheless, we must always think in terms of the overall risk to the university as a whole, and we certainly cannot rule out taking such action again in future, although our thresholds for doing so may be somewhat higher. We are meanwhile investigating several possible technical measures for reducing the risks to the university with less impact on legitimate network usage, and will be reviewing our emergency communications procedures. We will also be pressuring Google that they need to be far more responsive, if not proactive, regarding abuse of their services for criminal activities."



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