WASHINGTON -- The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved a subcommittee's bill that would increase spending on the National Science Foundation's research by $43 million with funds reallocated from the agency's education and equipment budgets. The legislation backed by the committee -- which will now go to the full House -- would keep the NSF's overall budget at $6.86 billion in 2012, flat from this year but $900 million less than President Obama requested. But the additional funds for research would come at the expense of a $26 million cut from the agency's education and human resources directorate and a $17 million shave from its research equipment and facilities fund. The bill would also
Higher Education Quick Takes
In today’s Academic Minute, the University of Texas at Austin's Timothy Rowe examines how the sense of smell contributed to the development of larger brains in early mammals and how modern technology is making such determinations possible. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.
The University of Oxford says that there is no need -- in light of the scandal over the conduct of some of the publications owned by Rupert Murdoch -- to rethink endowed chairs and programs in his name or that of News International, Times Higher Education reported. Murdoch made a significant gift (exact size unknown) to Oxford, his alma mater, in 1990. The gift funds the Rupert Murdoch professor of language and communication, three lectureships, a News International Fund that makes various grants, and a News International visiting professor of media, and a program to provide internships to students interested in journalism. An Oxford spokesman told Times Higher Education: "Our full processes of scrutiny were carried out at the time of the endowment." Valentine Cunningham, professor of English language and literature at Oxford, said there was "only residual unhappiness" among academics over News International ties. "It is thought that we have turned bad money into good," Cunningham said.
Jenna K. Templeton, director of online academic and support services at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, has been chosen as assistant dean of the College for Graduate Studies and of the College for Continuing and Professional Studies at Chatham University.
Stanford's alumni magazine has published a new oral history of the "prison experiment" 40 years ago in which some students played the part of jailers and others prisoners, and the abuse of the latter by the former making the study one of the most discussed social science experiments of modern times. As a blog in The Wall Street Journal noted, some of the details may lead some to question how much the study revealed about human nature. For instance, one person who played a jailer said that he drew on acting experience to be intentionally mean. Another participant in the experiment said that he was high on drugs most of the time he was being studied.
The full House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday endorsed a subcommittee's recommendation that Congress cut spending for the National Endowment for the Humanities (and the National Endowment for the Arts) in 2012. The subcommittee drafted legislation last week that would slash support for both agencies by nearly $20 million from their 2011 levels.
A new paper from the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment examines the role of measuring student learning outcomes at community colleges. Findings from surveys of community colleges show that they make extensive use of measures of student learning, but tend to do so at the program level rather than the institutional level (a finding that is probably not surprising, given the range of programs offered). For instance, 80 percent of community colleges reported using performance assessments other than grades (simulations, portfolios, capstone projects, etc.) to evaluate learning in individual units, but only 19 percent used those approaches across their institutions. And 83 percent reported using specialized tests (such as licensure exams and other standardized tests) for programs, but only 8 percent reported their use across institutions.
The New Faculty Majority, a national group for those faculty members who work off the tenure track, has started offering health insurance plans for members who live in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Lack of health insurance (or lack of access to more affordable group rates on health insurance) is a major issue for adjuncts who work at many colleges that limit access to their coverage.
Colleges could and should do much more to inform their students about the availability of federal loans and the risks of higher-cost private loans, the Project on Student Debt asserts in a new report, which describes promising practices that some institutions use and some troubling practices embraced by others. The report, "Critical Choices: How Colleges Can Help Students and Families Make Better Decisions about Private Loans," describes the extent to which significant numbers of students take out higher-priced alternative loans even though they have not exhausted the limits on the federal student loans they can take.
The report praises practices in which institutions (such as Barnard, Mount Holyoke and Grinnell Colleges and San Diego State University) are rigorous about counseling students who wish to take out private loans and critiques other institutions (which it does not name) that certify students' use of private loans willy nilly or treat private loans in their institutional financial aid awards to students as if the loans without making the nature of the loans clear.