Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 9, 2013

Pasadena City College has started an investigation into Hugo Schwyzer after he admitted to having sex with his students in recent years, The Pasadena Star-News reported. Schwyzer teaches history at the college, and also has taught courses and lectured nationally on women's studies, sexuality, pornography and other topics. He went on leave this summer after admitting that he had been having affairs in ways inconsistent with his public statements, and he announced that he was having a breakdown.

Schwyzer has previously admitted to sex with his students early in his career, but maintained until last week that he stopped doing so in 1998. Then last week, one of Schwyzer's former students anonymously posted an account of having sex with him -- sometimes in his campus office -- while she was enrolled in one of his courses. On his blog, Schwyzer then wrote that the allegations were true. "I am deeply sorry for having maintained a lie for so long, and extend my apologies to the many whom I’ve wronged, including those who fiercely defended me against charges that turned out to be true," he wrote. He added that "I will convey this information to the college, and I expect this will be a factor in discussions about my future as an history instructor."

September 6, 2013

States generally meet their obligations to match certain federal funds that go to predominantly white land-grant universities, but this isn't the case for historically black land-grant colleges, according to a new report by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. Between 2010-12, the report says, the black land-grant colleges should have received an additional $56 million in state funds.

September 6, 2013

Officials at Saint Mary's University, in Canada, are promising disciplinary action and more education programming in the wake over a video showing student orientation organizers leading as student chant promoting underage sex, CBC News reported. The change goes like this: "Y is for your sister [...] U is for underage, N is for no consent [...] Saint Mary’s boys we like them young." The chant is reportedly not new, but has not been widely known to administrators until the video surfaced.


September 6, 2013

CourseSmart, the digital publishing company founded by higher education publishers, today announced options to make renting and purchasing educational materials more flexible. Previously, the company only allowed customers to rent e-textbooks for 180 days -- a window that is now being expanded to half a dozen options ranging from a 60-day rental to purchasing the book outright. CourseSmart also introduced Subscription Packs, which allow students to fill six slots in a "digital bookshelf" for a flat fee of $200. 

"There’s a lot that’s to be said about how digital can save students money," CourseSmart CEO Sean Devine said. "Instead of going out and spending hundreds of dollars on textbooks ..., you can come to one place."

CourseSmart is also working with its publishing partners to add more interactive elements, like embedded videos and multiple choice tests, to its e-textbooks, Devine said.

"One of the criticisms of e-textbooks to date has been that they don’t add a lot of value -- except perhaps saving students money," Devine said. "There’s a fair amount of convergence going on beween what was previously a flat textbook and the more interactive, digital products. It’s our belief that digital products in the future will look more like this."

September 6, 2013

Texas A&M University-Commerce and South Texas College will next spring launch a competency-based degree program in organization leadership, the institutions announced on Thursday. The programs will be created in cooperation with Pearson, which will create online courses totaling 90 credit hours. Pearson estimates the program will enroll 250 students in its inaugural semester -- a number that will grow to more than 6,000 students by 2019.

September 6, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Jason Nadler of the Georgia Institute of Technology reveals how the remora is able to maintain such a strong grip on its host. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


September 6, 2013

The University of London has abandoned a plan to auction off an early set of Shakespeare, The Guardian reported. The university has been defending the plan, noting that it needs more money to preserve and grow its collection of historic documents, and that it has other early editions of Shakespeare. But criticism from academics has been intense, and was cited by university leaders in calling off the plan. "The university has decided to focus its attention on examining alternative ways of investing in the collection. The money raised from any sale would have been used to invest in the future of the library by acquiring major works and archives of English literature," said Adrian Smith, the vice chancellor.


September 5, 2013

The National Security Agency has doubled, to eight, the number of universities participating in a federal program to "cultivate more cyber professionals in an ever-changing global environment," the agency announced Wednesday. Air Force Institute of Technology, Auburn University, Carnegie Mellon University, and Mississippi State University join 2012 participants Dakota State University, the Naval Postgraduate School, Northeastern University, and the University of Tulsa in the program, in which some students and faculty members from the institutions participate in summer seminars at the agency. The news release clearly states: "Participating students and faculty members do not engage in actual U.S. government intelligence activities."

September 5, 2013

Stephen M. Ross, a real estate developer, has given the University of Michigan a gift of $200 million. The funds will be split between the business school and the athletics department. Gifts by Ross to Michigan now total $313 million, making him the largest donor in the institution's history.


September 5, 2013

The Modern Language Association’s job listing database is free to everyone, starting Sept. 13.

Previously, faculty and current and former graduate students at MLA-affiliated departments of English and foreign languages (at most Ph.D.-granting institutions) could access the Job Information List at no charge. Non-MLA members without that access had to pay $65, while members paid $40. (MLA also made PDFs of its jobs list available to the public for free upon publication, five times annually. The online jobs list is updated weekly). Some criticized that model and last year, an anonymous group tried to open up the databases to the general public with a website called MLAjobleaks.com. The site is now dead.

In an e-mail, Rosemary Feal, executive director of MLA, said of the change: “The Executive Council attempts to make as much MLA material as possible free or low-cost to as many people as possible. It's our mission to promote the study and teaching of languages, and this is one way we carry out that mission.”

Public reaction so far has been positive. Christopher Lupke, associate professor of Chinese at the Washington State University at Pullman, wrote on the MLA Commons discussion board: “In this age when the humanities are under siege, we need to do everything we can for those just joining the ranks of our labor force. The free MLA [jobs list] is therefore a salutary development.”


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