Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 20, 2014

Six female faculty members in the philosophy department at the University of Colorado at Boulder have issued a statement expressing concerns about the impact of a recent report detailing instances of sexism and unprofessionalism in the department. The statement, published on the Feminist Philosophers blog, doesn't take issue with the conclusions of the report. But the statement notes that the report (which was released by the university although the authors of the report didn't intend for it to become public) could unfairly damage the reputations of some in the department. To avoid that problem, the statement says the following: "Despite differing perceptions regarding both the report’s details and the overall impression it gives, all of us are united on a few things. First, we are all distressed that the report may damage the reputations of male colleagues who are completely innocent of sexual misconduct. It could also harm the prospects of our male graduate students currently on the market. We faculty women strongly believe that none of our currently untenured male colleagues or current male graduate students has engaged in sexual misconduct (nor, indeed, have most of our tenured colleagues). We believe that many have heard about the problems, if at all, only through the rumor mill. The second thing that unites us all is our determination to rebuild the department and its reputation."

 

February 20, 2014

Harvard University has received a $150 million gift from an alumnus, Kenneth Griffin. Most of the funds will support undergraduate financial aid.

 

February 19, 2014

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, a former Princeton University physicist who has been an eloquent advocate for scientific research in Congress for 15 years, will not seek re-election when his term expires later this year, the Democrat announced Tuesday. Holt was assistant director of Princeton's Plasma Physics Laboratory before being elected to represent a central New Jersey district in 1999. He has delved into higher education issues as a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and argued -- with more personal and professional credibility than most -- for the importance of science research and education. (It is not uncommon to see bumper stickers around Princeton that read "My Congressman IS a rocket scientist.")

February 19, 2014

Bowling Green State University and its faculty union have reached an agreement regarding 40 planned job cuts for non-tenure-track faculty on one-year contracts. Under the agreement, those faculty members who have worked at Bowling Green full-time for four or more years will be offered severance packages based on salary and years of service. Some 18 faculty members are eligible. David Jackson, president of the Bowling Green State University Faculty Association, an American Association of University Professors-affiliated union representing both tenure-line faculty and adjuncts, said the association had hope to preserve all jobs but legal analysis suggested that was unlikely. He described the severance deal as making the "best out of a bad situation." In a statement, the university said: "We are pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with the Faculty Association. The decision to not renew the contracts of any of our colleagues is always difficult, and was done with the best interests of the university in mind."

February 19, 2014

Clark University, in Massachusetts, has dropped need-blind admissions, in which applicants are admitted regardless of their ability to pay, MassLive.com reported. Going ahead, the university will become "need-aware" at the end of its admissions process, meaning that once the financial aid budget has been spent, applicants who can afford to pay will be admitted. Officials said that they remained committed to admitting low-income students, but that the need-blind policy had forced Clark to make cuts in other parts of its budget, and was no longer sustainable.

February 19, 2014

America's community colleges and their students generated $809 billion of income in 2012, which was 5.4 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, according to a report by the American Association of Community Colleges released this week. That figure includes the higher wages students earned that year, the increased output of business that employed the students and related multiplier effects. The report also found that students earn $4.80 in higher future wages for every $1 they invest in their community college education.

February 19, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Charles Venuto of American Public University discusses the connection between the space program and preservation of bird habitat in Florida. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

February 19, 2014

Chatham University, in Pennsylvania, may soon admit men to the undergraduate program for the first time, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Like many women's colleges, Chatham has coeducational graduate programs, but has kept its original undergraduate program for women. University officials said that they are studying the coed option out of concerns about having enough undergraduates in an era in which most female college applicants don't want a women's college. Chatham currently enrolls 588 undergraduates, down from 675 in 2008.

 

February 19, 2014

Congressional investigators said in a report Tuesday that they could not determine whether students' increased access to federal loans in recent years has caused college prices to rise.

The Government Accountability Office was tasked with analyzing what, if any, impact higher federal loan limits that took effect in 2008 and 2009 have had on the rising price of college. In its report, the GAO concludes that "it  is difficult to determine if a direct relationship exists between increases in college prices and the [federal] loan limit increases because of the confluence of many other factors that occurred around the time the loan limit increases took effect," such as the economic recession and increases in other types of federal, state and institutional aid available to students.

The report also notes that the increased federal loan limits were correlated with a drastic drop, by more than 50 percent, in private student lending. A variety of factors explain that drop, the report says, including more stringent lending criteria, new consumer protections on private loans, and colleges' efforts to steer students away from private loans.

February 19, 2014

The board of Occidental College has agreed to bar future investments in companies that manufacture assault weapons, The Los Angeles Times reported. While the college has no such investments now, officials said that it was important to take a stand on the issue. Faculty members had pushed for the policy, citing mass shootings involving assault weapons. Jennifer Fiore, executive director of the Campaign to Unload, which is seeking such investment bans, said that she believed Occidental was the first college to adopt one and that others would follow.

 

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