Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 5, 2015

PolitiFact, the fact-checking service of The Tampa Bay Times, is questioning President Obama's claim that politicians have started colleges. In a recent interview on YouTube, Obama answered a question about why young people should be interested in politics this way: "Well, basically, politics is just -- how do we organize ourselves as a society? How do we make decisions about how we're going to live together? So, young people care about how college is paid for. Well, the truth of the matter is, the reason we even have colleges is that at some point there were politicians who said, ‘You know what? We should start colleges.’"

Obama went on to cite Abraham Lincoln for signing the bill that created the land-grant college system.

The article quoted several experts as saying that, in fact, politicians haven't created many colleges. The land-grant legislation encouraged states to do so, or supported existing institutions. And many other pieces of legislation helped colleges and students, but didn't actually create colleges, the article concluded.I anticipate comments from University of Virginia alumni. sb

 

February 5, 2015

The National Labor Relations Board issued three decisions Wednesday regarding religious colleges where faculty members have attempted to form unions and where administrators have objected, saying that their spiritual affiliation puts them outside of the board’s jurisdiction. In each decision -- regarding Seattle University, Saint Xavier University and Manhattan College, all of which are Roman Catholic -- the board remanded the case back to the NLRB regional directors to take appropriate action in light of the recent NLRB decision regarding Pacific Lutheran University.

In that case -- which many called a major win for unions and a blow to longstanding legal precedents challenging the right of tenure-line faculty members at private institutions and faculty members generally at religious institutions to freely form unions -- the board said adjuncts at Pacific Lutheran could form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union. The board based its decision on its opinion that adjuncts at Pacific Lutheran didn't perform specific religious functions that might cause them to fall outside its jurisdiction and on the opinion that the faculty members lacked the managerial duties that might prevent them from forming a union.

Louisa Edgerly, an adjunct instructor of communications at Seattle, said the ruling appeared to be good news that brought the would-be union “one step closer” to finally being able to be count the union election votes that have been impounded as the university appeals a local NLRB decision in the adjuncts’ favor. William A. Herbert, executive director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College of the City University of New York, said the orders appear to be largely procedural, but that it was “important to recognize that the NLRB could have chosen to decide the merits of the issues in each case based on record already before it, as it did in Pacific Lutheran. Instead, it has sent each case back to the regional director for further processing, which might result in additional briefing by the parties or the reopening of the record for the presentation of supplemental evidence and argument based on the standards set forth in Pacific Lutheran.”

February 5, 2015

A new campaign seeks to get 1,000 K-12 teachers to take a pledge to encourage their students to study abroad. The effort is part of the Institute of International Education’s broader Generation Study Abroad initiative, which aims to double study abroad participation numbers.

“To achieve our goal of doubling study abroad by the end of the decade, it is essential to work with teachers and support them in building a pipeline of students who are prepared to take advantage of international opportunities,” IIE’s president and CEO, Allan E. Goodman, said in a press release. 

February 5, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Jessica Gall Myrick, a communications professor at Indiana University, explores the nature of celebrity influence over the population especially in terms of medical conditions. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


 

February 4, 2015

A member of the City Council for Washington on Tuesday proposed that the University of the District of Columbia offer a free community college and be renamed to honor Marion Barry, The Washington Post reported. The university currently has both community college and four-year students. Vincent B. Orange, the councilman, said he wanted Washington to move to embrace President Obama's ideas about students having access to free community college options.

The late Barry served as mayor and city council member in Washington and is beloved in some circles and derided in others. Orange said that Barry's drug conviction should not disqualify him from having a university named in his honor. “It can serve as an inspiration for some, it can also serve as a way for others to get up and overcome their adversities -- and for some, it can serve as a don’t do these types of things, stay on this track," Orange said.

February 4, 2015

A faculty panel has urged the board of the University of Illinois System to stop reviewing faculty appointments and to delegate that authority to senior campus administrators, The News-Gazette reported. The recommendation comes out of the controversy over Steven Salaita, whose hiring was blocked last year by senior administrators who did not believe that the board would approve him. Aside from the Salaita debate, faculty leaders said that the system did not work well in that new faculty members might be on campus teaching before the board officially approved their hire. Administrators have not endorsed the faculty recommendation, but have said that they too favor a streamlining of the process.

 

February 4, 2015

Rising costs and lower government aid have made it more difficult for lower-income students to earn a college degree, according to a new report from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (AHEAD) at the University of Pennsylvania. The study tracked data over 45 years. It found that students and families paid for one-third of the cost of the higher-education system in 1980. But that proportion grew to a little more than half in 2012.

February 4, 2015

The budget proposal from Wisconsin's Republican governor, Scott Walker, would eliminate the regulatory board that oversees the state's 244 for-profit institutions, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. The Education Approval Board sought tighter regulation of the sector two years ago, but that plan died quickly. Walker wants to cut the board to "decrease the regulatory and fiscal burden" on for-profits, according to the newspaper.

February 4, 2015

Two for-profit institutions in Minnesota, Globe University and the Minnesota College of Business, have halted enrollment in a criminal justice program that is facing scrutiny and lawsuit by the state, The Star Tribune reported. Officials of the institution did not respond to requests for comment but have defended their programs in the past. State officials have said that students were recruited and led to borrow without knowing that the criminal justice program was not recognized as valid preparation for law enforcement jobs in the state.

 

February 4, 2015

Inside Higher Ed is pleased to release today The STEM Pipeline, our latest compilation of articles. As with other such print-on-demand booklets, the compilation groups together pieces that explore different strategies used by faculty members and institutions -- and efforts to track their success. The booklet is free and you may download a copy here. And you may sign up here for a free webinar on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 2 p.m. Eastern about the themes of the booklet.

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