Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, February 17, 2012 - 3:00am

American University adjuncts have voted to unionize and to be represented by the Service Employees International Union. A memo from the university's provost, Scott A. Bass, said that the vote to unionize was 379 to 284. The memo said that the university would respect the vote, and would not file any appeals of the election. The SEIU Local 500 website includes statements from numerous adjuncts about why they wanted a union.


Friday, February 17, 2012 - 3:00am

The Education Department's advisory committee on accreditation is seeking comment on a draft of its final recommendations for Education Secretary Arne Duncan on how the system of higher education quality assurance might be revamped. The draft final report, which was published in Friday's Federal Register, was previewed in an article on Inside Higher Ed this month. The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity will solicit comment on the draft report and then hold an April 13 teleconference to discuss and possibly act on the report.


Friday, February 17, 2012 - 3:00am

A new research paper from the American Sociological Association compares the job markets (primarily but not exclusively in academe) in social science disciplines. Looking at the most recent jobs data (based on postings with disciplinary associations), the association found that sociology appears to be experiencing the most robust recovery in job listings (up 28 percent), followed by political science (up 12 percent), history (up 10 percent) and economics (up less than 1 percent). Using the same data (which may be incomplete as many jobs are not posted with the disciplinary associations), the study also calculated a ratio of new Ph.D.s to open rank faculty positions for the four fields. Economics appears in this comparison to have the most favorable job market for new Ph.D.s, with 0.7 Ph.D.s per open rank position. The figures are 1.1 to 1 for political science, 1.3 to 1 for sociology, and 2.1 to 1 for history.


Friday, February 17, 2012 - 3:00am

A group of U.S. senators on Thursday proposed legislation that would make it harder for for-profit colleges to enroll substantial numbers of veterans and active-duty members of the military without running afoul of federal financial aid rules. For-profits can collect up to 90 percent of their revenue from federal financial aid, but student payments from the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and the Department of Defense's tuition benefit program do not count toward that amount. The new bill, introduced by Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, would change the formula and count that revenue as federal dollars. Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House.

The proposed legislation follows a similar bill, introduced last month by Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, that would reduce to 85 percent the amount of federal aid revenue for-profits can receive, and also count military tuition aid toward the federal side of the equation. Both bills face long odds, due to Republican opposition and the legislative doldrums of a presidential election season.

Friday, February 17, 2012 - 4:32am

California regulators have shut down the Institute of Medical Education, a for-profit institution with 250 students, citing operational, accreditation and financial problems, the Associated Press reported. An official of the institute said that the closure was "ridiculous," and that it might sue the state. Many students who showed up for classes Thursday -- only to find the institute shut down -- told the Bay Area News Group that they were scared they would be unable to transfer any of their credit and get back any of the money they had paid for classes that could be worthless to them.


Friday, February 17, 2012 - 3:00am

St. John's University, in New York, fired its associate athletic director this week for ticket scalping, Bloomberg reported. The university said its investigation found that Brian Colleary did not involve other university officials in the scalping. Colleary did not respond to requests for comment.

Friday, February 17, 2012 - 4:34am

The University of California has paid $1.35 million to settle a lawsuit that said the institution discriminated against women by failing to provide enough athletic opportunities for female athletes, The Los Angeles Times reported. The settlement followed a federal judge's ruling that the university has failed to expand women's programs sufficiently. The university noted that it had added women's teams during the period in question.


Friday, February 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Susan Hockfield announced Thursday that she plans to step down as president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "The institute is now moving forward on a new set of ambitious goals, and I have concluded that the powerful momentum we have built makes this an opportune moment for a leadership transition," she wrote in an e-mail sent around the campus. Hockfield has been president since 2004.

Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 3:00am

Authorities have charged two African-American female students at Montclair State University with creating the racist threatening note they reported finding on their door, The Star-Ledger reported. Reports about the note left many black students feeling unsafe. The reported discovery of the threat against black students followed a campus rally against threats (real ones) that had been found against gay people.

Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 4:33am

The Los Angeles Community College District and the local district attorney are investigating spending by the director of a foundation that provides scholarships to needy students at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, The Los Angeles Times reported. Rhea Chung's expenses included more than $9,000 on golf outings, spending of $2,300 at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a $1,500 monthly car allowance. Chung, who has been placed on leave, told the Times that the spending was an appropriate way to provide access to potential donors.


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