Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 12, 2013

Community college students on average will receive more economic benefit from their higher education if they complete an associate degree before transferring to a four-year institution, according to new research from the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College. The study considered data on credit accumulation, completion and labor market returns for students from North Carolina's Community College System. One reason for the eventual pay-off of a two-year degree, according to the study, is that relatively few students who transfer early ever complete a bachelor's degree and therefore end up leaving college with no credential.

July 12, 2013

Graham Spanier, the former president of Pennsylvania State University, filed papers Thursday indicating that he will sue Louis Freeh, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for defamation, The Centre Daily Times reported. The charges concern the report Freeh and his consulting group did for Penn State about the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The report was highly critical of Spanier and other top Penn State administrators. Freeh declined to comment on the Spanier suit.

 

July 12, 2013

The University of Wisconsin System has earned approval from its regional accreditor for several competency-based programs, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. The low-cost, self-paced degrees, which will feature prior-learning assessment, include a handful of bachelor tracks, a certificate and a general education associate degree from the University of Wisconsin Colleges, a two-year system. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association signed off on the competency-based degrees, which the system calls the "UW Flexible Option." The system will now apply to the U.S. Department of Education to seek approval to participate in federal financial aid programs.

July 11, 2013

Remember Susan Patton? She's the 1977 Princeton University alumna and mother of two Princeton (male) students who wrote a letter to the editor of the student paper urging female students to grab husbands while still in college. An uproar ensued but then died down. Well, Patton is coming back -- and with a broader audience in mind. A Simon & Schuster imprint announced Wednesday that it will publish an advice book by Patton for all young women (not just those at Princeton) to be called Smarten Up: Words of Wisdom From the Princeton Mom. The news release announcing the book included a quote from Patton suggesting she is not backing down on any of her points.

"In this 'politically correct' world where the topics of marriage and motherhood for educated girls are taboo, somebody has to talk honestly with young women about finding husbands, getting married and having babies," Patton said. "That might as well be me! The advice I offered in The Daily Princetonian was intended for the women on the campus of my beloved alma mater, but it is applicable to educated women everywhere who want a traditional family. To avoid an unwanted life of spinsterhood with cats, you have to smarten up about what’s important to you."

July 11, 2013

A Chinese scientist accused of stealing three vials of a potential anti-cancer drug compound from the Medical College of Wisconsin has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of illegally accessing a computer; a charge of economic espionage was dropped, NBC News reported.  Hua Jun Zhao faces up to a $250,000 fine and five years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for next month.

July 11, 2013

The University of Phoenix's regional accreditor has placed the for-profit institution "on notice," a lesser sanction than the probation recommended by a site team earlier this year, the university's holding company said Wednesday. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools determined that governance and administrative problems could lead to the university being out of compliance within two years. The university said it had submitted updated information to the commission about changes it made after receiving the site team's report.

July 11, 2013

College athletic programs lag behind professional teams in diverse hiring practices, and in some sports, are getting worse, according to a new “report card” released Wednesday by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. TIDES awarded college sports a “B” grade overall – same as last year -- noting that while colleges improved slightly on gender hiring practices (colleges scored 81.3 points on the report card scale, up from 80.7 last year), they also did slightly worse with racial hiring practices (scoring 81 points, down from 82.2). The report points specifically to Division I men’s basketball head coaches, 18.8 percent of whom are black, down 0.2 percent from last year and 6.6 percent from 2005-6. It also notes that the commissioners of all major Football Bowl Series conferences are white males, and 89 percent of athletics directors in all three divisions are white. Only 8.3 percent of Division I athletics directors are women, the report says.

July 11, 2013

Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican who is a key figure on nonprofit issues in Congress, is accusing New York University of stonewalling in an inquiry into the compensation the university provides, The New York Times reported. Grassley has been investigating bonuses and loans provided to top administrators and some faculty members. Grassley told The TImes that, over a series of meetings, NYU has delayed or declined to provide some information, and in particular the details of various loan arrangements. In one case, the university brought documents to Grassley's office for aides to see, but would not leave the records. An NYU trustee told The Times that it was unfair "to single out our faculty and our administration and staff." Grassley told the newspaper, “We’re getting stonewalled. We’re getting nowhere. We were promised cooperation and we’re not getting it.” In discussing the various delays in providing information, Grassley said that "the only conclusion I can come to is any information they’d give us would be very embarrassing to them."

July 11, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Geraldine Wright of Newcastle University reveals why bees get a kick out of caffeine. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

July 11, 2013

Students who spend a semester or year abroad show positive changes in their personality, according to a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Researchers at Germany’s Friedrich Schiller University Jena surveyed more than 1,100 students, including 527 who studied abroad and a control group of 607 who did not, on measures associated with the “Big Five” personality traits (agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, extraversion, and openness). They found significant differences between the two groups even after controlling for higher levels of extraversion, open-mindedness and conscientiousness exhibited by study abroad students before leaving home.

"Those who spent some time abroad profit in their personality development, for instance in terms of growing openness and emotional stability," Julia Zimmermann, the lead author, said in a press release. "Their development regarding these characteristics clearly differed from the control group even when initial personality differences were taken into account."

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