Higher Education Quick Takes

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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.

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."

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Andreas Wilke of Clarkson University reveals the unexpected benefits depression brings to the decision making process. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of South Carolina has suspended its fraternity rush in the wake of a slew of drinking-related violations as students returned to campus last week, The State reported. A university administrator said it had taken the "unprecedented step" of suspending the selection process for all fraternities -- not just those at which the six incidents took place -- because the institution "will not tolerate activities that jeopardize the safety and health of students or foster a culture of disrespect for rules and regulations." No date has been set for resuming rush.

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:00am

Governor Rick Perry, the Texan whose entry has shaken up the race for the Republican presidential nomination, is continuing to question evolution. The Huffington Post has published videos of him in New Hampshire calling evolution "a theory that's out there," and a theory with "some gaps in it." Then on Thursday, after a supporter in South Carolina praised his remarks, he said, “Well, God is how we got here. God may have done it in the blink of the eye or he may have done it over this long period of time, I don't know. But I know how it got started."

Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor who is one of Perry's rivals for the nomination, then spoke out in defense of evolution, criticizing Perry's statements both on origins and on climate change (Perry doubts the science). On Twitter, Huntsman wrote: "To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy." And he told ABC that "When we take a position that isn't willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science has said about what is causing climate change and man's contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position."

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:00am

Central Michigan University administrators said late Sunday that the university would hold classes this morning despite the vote by its faculty union earlier in the day to strike. Leaders of Central Michigan's Faculty Association said university administrators had adopted a "take-it-or-leave-it" attitude in negotiations over renewing the contract for its 600-plus members, prompting them to file unfair labor practice charges. Campus officials said that they would seek a court's injunction this morning to bar what they called an "illegal work stoppage," and that students should report because fixed-term faculty members and graduate teaching assistants would "still hold classes as scheduled."

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