Higher Education Quick Takes
Weixing Li, a professor at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln who was detained in China while there with a student group, will be allowed to return to the United States, The Lincoln Journal Star reported. The professor contacted family members to tell them he will be able to leave.
The commissioners of six major football-playing conferences (plus the University of Notre Dame) reached agreement Wednesday on the framework for a four-team playoff for big-time college football, to begin in 2014, ESPN reported. The plan needs the approval of the college presidents on the committee that oversees the Bowl Championship Series, which is scheduled to meet next week in Washington. Under the proposal, the existing BCS system for choosing a national champion would be replaced as of 2014 by a system in which a committee would choose four teams to play in two semifinal games (based on the current bowl games) leading to a championship game.
The Purdue University Board of Trustees will convene Thursday to vote on the university's next president -- which sources, including Indiana Public Media, have reported will be Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.
At some universities, professors have objected to the appointments of non-academics to presidential post. But faculty leaders at Purdue are open to the idea. Joseph Camp, secretary of faculties for the university's Faculty Senate, said Daniels' political background would not affect his ability to be president: "I don't know if there's anything in his background that will either qualify or disqualify him to be president, so what I have to do is maintain an open mind, and like everyone else, I'm curious to see how this all works out."
Another member of the senate, Vice Chair David Williams, shared his view. Williams wrote in an e-mail that although "considerable voice" has been given to the next president being an academic, he sees the importance of having a president who can harness entrepreneurship at the university to attract funding. "Mitch Daniels has been successful in the business world, and in the political world. He could very well be the right person, at the right time, coming into the right environment. I find that prospect exciting," he wrote.
Several law schools have in the last year been found to be doctoring the statistics about their entering classes, trying to make the incoming students look more impressive so that their institutions would rise in the rankings. Now the American Bar Association and the Law School Admission Council have announced a new program in which they will verify the accuracy of such data. The groups will compare data from various sources to provide an assurance that law schools are being truthful. "Many schools have expressed an interest in such a program," said John O’Brien, chair of the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. "In an environment where the actions of a few schools have raised questions in the minds of some about the integrity of data reporting by law schools more generally, this program gives schools a straightforward and efficient method to have their admissions data verified."
Advocates for Asian-American students are criticizing a new report from the Pew Research Center, which is well known for its demographic studies. The Pew report, "The Rise of Asian Americans," is generally quite positive about their status in American life. Citing survey and other data, the report begins: "Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States. They are more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances and the direction of the country, and they place more value than other Americans do on marriage, parenthood, hard work and career success."
But a joint statement from the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund and the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education said that the data presented by Pew obscured continuing challenges facing recent Asian immigrants (as opposed to those here for several generations). The report "only reinforces the mischaracterizations of Asian American and Pacific Islander students that contribute to their exclusion from federally-supported policies, programs, and initiatives. Presenting such findings offer nothing in the way of positive changes for this historically underserved student population. This data only further burdens down Asian American students who have to fight against the 'model minority myth,' a misleading falsehood that deems them to be well-educated and financially successful."
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Tuesday announced $9 million in grants for "breakthrough learning models" in higher education:
The awards include:
- $3.3 million to EDUCAUSE for four winners of the Next Generation Learning Challenges' latest RFP. These winners include state systems, four-year and two-year programs, and all have signed up to deliver significant improvements in completion at scale, at affordable tuition rates.
- $3 million to MyCollege Foundation to establish a nonprofit college that will blend adaptive online learning solutions with other student services.
- $1 million to Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop and offer a new, free prototype computer science online course through edX, a joint venture between MIT and Harvard, and partner with a postsecondary institution that targets low-income young adults to experiment with use of the course in a "flipped classroom."
- $1 million to the Research Foundation of the City University of New York to support the launch of the New Community College (NCC) at CUNY.
- $500,000 to University of the People to support the pursuit of accreditation.
- $450,000 to the League for Innovation in the Community College to develop and pilot a national consortium of leading online two- and four-year colleges that will help increase seat capacity in the community college system and support more low-income young adults in attaining a postsecondary credential. The consortium will initially include Coastline Community College (CA), the University of Massachusetts Online, Pennsylvania State World Campus and the University of Illinois-Springfield.
Corinthian Colleges Inc. on Tuesday announced that it would sell two of its six WyoTech campuses, located in California and Florida. The for-profit has yet to secure a buyer, according to a corporate filing, and will discontinue operations at the campuses until one is found. WyoTech's academic programs focus primarily on automotive technology. In March Corinthian announced the sale or closure of seven of its Everest College campuses, which had been struggling financially.
The Ohio Supreme Court decided largely in favor of Ohio State University in an open records lawsuit brought by ESPN pertaining to the 2011 football scandal, CBS News reported. ESPN filed the suit -- which held that the university improperly cited the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act in withholding or removing names from documents -- in July. The court said the university mostly adhered to FERPA, but it did order the university to release a few records that had been withheld entirely as long as students' names were redacted. A university statement issued Tuesday said, "Ohio State appreciates the clarity given today by the Ohio Supreme Court affirming the university's interpretation of federal student privacy laws."
A survey being released today suggests that arts graduates -- counter to the stereotype -- are not all facing unemployment. The survey, the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, includes graduates of arts colleges and of arts programs within broader universities. Among the findings:
- 87 percent of arts graduates who are currently employed are satisfied with the job in which they spend the majority of their work time.
- Of those employed alumni, 82 percent are satisfied with their ability to be creative in their current work, whether working in the arts or in other fields.
- Only 4 percent of respondents report being unemployed and looking for work – less than half the national rate of 8.9 percent.
- 84 percent of employed alumni agree that their current primary job reflects their personalities, interests and values, whether their work is in the arts or other fields.
- Those with degrees in the performing arts and design are the most likely ever to be employed as professional artists, with 82 percent of dance, theater and music performance majors, and 81 percent of design majors working as professional artists at some point.