Higher Education Quick Takes
Clerical and support staff workers at the University of Akron have voted to unionize and to be represented by the Communications Workers of America, The Akron Beacon Journal reported. The union already represents skilled trades and crafts workers at the university.
Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese will deliver the 2013 Jefferson Lecture, the National Endowment for the Humanities announced Tuesday. Scorsese is the first filmmaker chosen for the honor, which is typically awarded to a scholar in the humanities (and is the highest accolade the federal government bestows for such work). NEH Chairman Jim Leach said that Scorsese "follows in the tradition of earlier speakers like John Updike, Barbara Tuchman, and Arthur Miller in revealing a profound understanding and empathy for the human condition.”
This year's lecture will be held on Monday, April 1, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Northern Illinois University has fired Donald Grady as police chief, The Chicago Tribune reported. Grady was hailed as a hero for his response to a campus shooting five years ago, but his dismissal follows reports of police misconduct in a rape case. Grady is planning to appeal the dismissal.
New data from the U.S. Department of Education show that students at 82 percent of high schools in the United States are enrolled in dual credit courses. The report, which is based on 2010-11 and comes from the department's National Center for Education Statistics at the Institute of Education Sciences, also found that 69 percent of high schools reported enrollments in Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. The data include information on whether high school instructors taught the courses by themselves, and who covered expenses for the courses.
Florida Atlantic University has agreed to name its football stadium for a company, GEO Group, that runs private prisons, The New York Times reported. University officials are defending the deal, saying that they need private money for athletics and that GEO officials have strong ties to the institution. A number of groups have over the years raised questions about GEO Group's management of prisons, and some say that the university should not be using a major facility to promote the company.
Jean-Lou Chameau announced Tuesday that he will be stepping down as president of the California Institute of Technology, and will take a position leading the new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, in Saudi Arabia. In a letter to the campus, Chameau said that he and his wife had until recently "believed we would complete our careers at Caltech and retire in Pasadena. It would be difficult not to feel that way when working in such a special place and community. We did not expect, however, to be presented with a unique and life-changing opportunity: to lead the recently created King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. As I considered accepting the position at KAUST and as I spoke with individuals involved in its founding, I was struck by the attention paid to establishing a culture of excellence, and how its planning had been influenced by great institutions from around the world, including Caltech."
Texas legislators are rallying around Bill Powers, the University of Texas at Austin president who may be the target of another ouster attempt by regents close to Governor Rick Perry, the Associated Press reported. Lieut. Governor David Dewhurst on Tuesday announced plans for Senate hearings on whether the UT Board of Regents is meddling too much into the decisions Powers makes. Further, he denounced what he called "character assassination" of Powers and his family in the form of anonymous letters he said are circulating among board members. Dewhurst did not offer specifics on the letters.
The Graduate Management Admission Council, which runs the Graduate Management Admission Test, is today introducing Reflect, a new service to test the "soft skills" of students. GMAC hopes that business schools (and employers and other colleges) will use the test to identify students' personality-related skills, and to help students develop their strengths and compensate for weaknesses. The test will take about 45 minutes and cost $99, which could be paid by the student or by a college wanting to test a class or a cohort. The test consists of more than 500 short answer questions (many of them true/false or yes/no). Those who take the test will get a report on how they score in 10 areas (such as resilience, drive and collaboration) as well as strategies based on their skill level.
Joseph P. Fox, associate dean and director of M.B.A. programs at Washington University in St. Louis, said that his institution wants to try using the test in organizational behavior and leaderships classes. Via e-mail, he said this would be valuable because "year after year employers identify the fact that well-developed soft skills are of paramount importance in the hiring and promotion process. They take the technical skills, tools, and intellectual horsepower as the 'price of entry' into their consideration. But they make the tough (and final) choices based on the other so called 'soft skills.'"
In recent years, the Educational Testing Service has been encouraging the use of the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT, and ETS has promoted its Personal Potential Index as a tool in which applicants to graduate schools can be measured on some similar characteristics as those that will be measured in Reflect. But a GMAC spokeswoman said that Reflect was not appropriate as an admissions tool.
A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that there may be an economic payoff to attending a diverse college. The study compared individuals who answered questions in the Add Health database (which covers a wide range of issues). The analysis finds "a positive link" between attending colleges with more diversity and higher earning levels and family income levels. No link was found to greater rates of voting or higher levels of education.