Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jennifer Wesely of the University of North Florida discusses the connection between violence against women and homelessness. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reported Monday that confidential records about student judicial cases had been stolen, The Durham Herald-Sun reported. The records were kept by the student honors committee, which has been in the news of late because of allegations before it that a tutor provided inappropriate assistance to a football player.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Ohio University has moved from number two to number one in The Princeton Review's most talked-about annual ranking -- it was named the top party school in the publisher's annual college guide, The Best 376 Colleges, which was released Monday.

The guide includes individual profiles of each college, along with rankings based on an online survey of more than 122,000 students nationwide. Ohio University, last year's number-two party school, displaced the University of Georgia for the top spot. Students at OU reported high rates of beer-drinking (it was number one in this category), liquor consumption (number two), and participation in fraternities and sororities (number 11). It also earned a number-12 ranking in the "students study the least," category, although it did not make the top 20 in the marijuana-use category, (topped by Colorado College), one of the criteria used in the party school rankings.

The top five was rounded out by other familiar institutions -- the University of Mississippi, the University of Iowa, and the University of California - Santa Barbara.




OU officials released a statement saying they were "disappointed" in the ranking and felt it did not reflect the experience of most students. To back up this claim, the statement cited the university's biennial alcohol and drug use survey, which was released in June and showed a two-percent decrease in "high-risk" or "binge" drinking since 2009, and an eight-percent decrease since 2007.

Of the 1,101 respondents, all undergraduate students, about 70 percent reported consuming five or more drinks on one occasion within the past two weeks in this year's survey, compared to about 73 percent in 2009 and 78 percent in 2011. Vice president of student affairs Kent Smith attributed the decline to the university efforts to curb drinking, including a mandatory online alcohol education course and a public relations campaign called "Stop at the Buzz." Drinking at OU is still a problem, he said, but the university is "moving in the right direction."

The Princeton Review's annual survey features more than 80 questions about academics, financial aid, facilities, and extracurricular activities, most of which include five possible responses, (for instance, responses to some questions include a range from "Awful" to "Excellent"). The Princeton Review uses the data to assign each college a score in each category. Other categories include "Professors Get High Marks" (Wellesley College topped the list this year), "Great Financial Aid," (Swarthmore came in at number one), and the new "Best Health Services" category (which was topped by the University of California - Los Angeles).

But its party school list typically generates the most buzz, and this year's edition of The Best 376 Colleges came with a disclaimer about the list, saying it does not necessarily reflect the overall quality of the institutions.

"We recommend all 376 schools in this book as outstanding institutions at which to earn one's college degree," wrote co-authors Robert Franek, Laura Braswell, and Seamus Mullarkey.

"But just as the schools on our 'LGBT-Unfriendly' list may not be ideal campuses for gay students, the schools on our 'Party Schools' list may not be ideal for students seeking a campus at which the use of alcohol and drugs and the frrat/sorority scene is, well, less exuberant."

Monday, August 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Phillip Closius resigned, under pressure, as law dean at the University of Baltimore, and he sent students and faculty members a detailed explanation of his conflicts with the central administration, The Baltimore Sun reported. Specifically, he said that the law schools is increasingly subsidizing the rest of the university in ways that he sees as unfair. "I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable justifying tuition and fee increases to law students when the money was actually being used to fund non-law university initiatives," he wrote. (The full letter is here.) Robert L. Bogomolny, president of the university, did not debate the budget issues raised, but issued a statement praising Closius. "He has strengthened an already outstanding faculty, increased the national recognition of the school, and enhanced the success rates of our students," the statement said.

Monday, August 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Everyone knows what to expect in the class updates. So-and-so made partner, bought a new house, had a second kid, made plans to attend homecoming. Some Yale University alumni were thus taken aback when a note in the Class of '73 section of the alumni magazine opened this way: "Sam Taylor sent this intriguing note. 'Did you know that one of your classmates is officially considered a 'hate-monger' by the Southern Poverty Law Center. I believe this is a first for Yale." He went on to plug his latest book (he writes under the name of Jared Taylor), White Identity: Racial Consciousness in the 21st Century. E-mails from Inside Higher Ed to the editor and class notes editor of Yale Alumni Magazine were not answered. While some readers assume that alumni may exaggerate their activities just a bit in class notes, Taylor was truthful when he said he has been criticized by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Monday, August 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Law schools and the American Bar Association, facing criticism over the accuracy and completeness of job placement statistics, have been planning new requirements. But last week, NALP: The Association for Legal Career Professionals, wrote the ABA to oppose proposals that would require more reporting by law schools to the ABA on the issue. NALP, which has collected such data, said that dual reporting requirements would impose burdens on law schools and discourage them from participating in NALP's surveys. Moving ahead with its plans would be "detrimental and harmful to legal education, and will in the long term diminish the amount of information available about the legal employment market," the NALP letter said.

Monday, August 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Jordan's King Abdullah on Sunday pledged increased financial support for the country's universities and for scholarships for low-income students, The Jordan Times reported. The king also called on the universities to increase their focus on science and technology and to seek "untraditional ways" to improve their finances.

Monday, August 1, 2011 - 3:00am

In today;s Academic Minute, Michael Palladino of Monmouth University explains efforts to create
affordable personalized genomes to guide medical care. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, August 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Adam & Eve, which describes itself as "America's most trusted source for adult products," on Friday announced that it was providing funds to the University of Minnesota Medical School to establish an endowed chair -- believed to be the first of its kind -- in sexual health education. The chair will be named for Joycelyn Elders, who was surgeon general during the Clinton administration until her frank discussion of sex cost her the position.

Monday, August 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Many higher education officials talk about how alumni will react to the firing of popular coach. The Raleigh News & Observer used last week's firing of Butch Davis, the football coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to find out. The newspaper filed an open records request for the e-mail of Chancellor Holden Thorp before and after the dismissal of Davis (whose teams have had success on the field and numerous scandals). Much of the reaction fits the stereotype of how alumni react. There are threats to never give another penny, and e-mails like this one: "You folks are spineless, slimy slugs who have dishonored our whole university." One messages was sufficiently threatening that UNC public safety is investigating.

But there were other messages that supported the move. And one alumnus, who two days before the firing wrote that he stood behind the football coach "110%," wrote again after Thorp acted. "I know that this has been a long and stressful situation but I support y'all and The University of North Carolina 110%."


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