Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Bayani Cardenas of the University of Texas at Austin reveals what’s going on beneath the surface of a hot spring. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 3:00am

The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities on Monday released a set of "core principles and standards" for their members on the education of veterans. The for-profit group's five "tenets" include a call for counseling by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for all veterans who are prospective college students, as well as a list of disclosures colleges should make, including graduation and job placement rates for military and veteran students. However, the association pushed back against the use of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's "Know Before You Owe" form, the use of which the Obama Administration recently required as part of an executive order on veterans' education.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 3:00am

It's the 40th anniversary of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination in educational settings on the basis of sex, and while the landmark legislation has done much to level the playing field in academics and athletics, there remains work to be done. That's what the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, an alliance of more than three dozen national organizations including the American Association of University Women and the American Civil Liberties Union, says in a lengthy new report analyzing the state of Title IX at 40. There's still room for improvement in how universities and the government apply and enforce Title IX in athletics, sexual harassment, the STEM fields and other areas, the report says. But it also identifies a handful of recommendations that span all the areas covered by Title IX. In short, they are: improved public awareness of Title IX with active education efforts on the part of all stakeholders, including advocacy groups and the federal government; continued and enhanced enforcement by the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights, including compliance reviews in areas not currently monitored, such as the treatment of pregnant and parenting students; a requirement by Congress for schools and colleges to provide "enhanced" education data collection and reporting, including more detailed cross-tabulation by campus sub-groups; better identification, training, communication and transparency regarding Title IX coordinators; and restored federal funding to state education agencies for gender equity work, including funding state Title IX coordinators and programs and for technical assistance with compliance.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 3:00am

The Faculty Senate Executive Council on Monday issued a statement questioning the decision of the university's board to seek the resignation of Teresa A. Sullivan as president -- the announcement of which stunned the campus on Sunday. The faculty statement said that "we are shocked and dismayed" by the news. "The Faculty Senate Executive Council has worked closely and effectively with President Sullivan during her two-year term.  She has impressed us with her intelligence, leadership, and commitment to transparent administration and open, honest communication.  We witnessed her renowned dedication to higher education," the faculty statement said. It added: "We find the board's statement inadequate and unsatisfactory.... As elected representatives of the faculty, we are entitled to a full and candid explanation of this sudden and drastic change in university leadership. We intend to investigate this matter thoroughly and expeditiously, and will meet with the board as soon as possible."

A request to the university for a response from the board chair was not answered.

 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 3:00am

As the trial of Jerry Sandusky -- the former Penn State coach accused of sexual abuse of many boys -- started Monday, reports surfaced of new scrutiny on the former president of Penn State, Graham Spanier. NBC News reported that -- according to newly discovered documents -- Spanier discussed with other top officials whether to report Sandusky in 2001, when they heard an allegation about Sandusky's apparent abuse of a boy. Spanier and the other officials agreed it would be "humane" to Sandusky not to report the allegation to authorities. Lawyers for Spanier did not return calls seeking comment.

 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 4:17am

Some student leaders may be questioning Wesleyan University's recent shift away from need-blind admissions, but Moody's Investors Service is applauding the change, The Hartford Courant reported. In fact, a new report from Moody's suggests other private colleges may want to follow Wesleyan's lead. "These actions ... are credit positive for Wesleyan, as well as other selective private colleges that could look to this model as an avenue for growing tuition revenue in an increasingly difficult higher education market burdened by stiffening tuition price resistance and rising student loan burden," Moody's said.

Monday, June 11, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Amy Guo of Newcastle University explains the development of technology to address issues faced by aging drivers. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, June 11, 2012 - 4:20am

The Press-Enterprise describes an awkward situation recently at a high school in Riverside, California when the winner was announced for a scholarship for black students. The winner was white. The student had applied for every possible scholarship, and the application form said only that black students were "encouraged to apply," without any statement that the funds were only for black students. In fact, as materials sent to the high school indicated, the scholarship was only for black students. The original winner returned the funds.

 

Monday, June 11, 2012 - 3:00am

The New York Times Company is closing down the Knowledge Network, its five-year-old venture into online learning, a company spokeswoman said on Friday.  The Times announced the venture with much fanfare in 2007, believing that the esteem with which it is held in higher education and especially the depth of its content would give it a leg up in the increasingly crowded distance education market (and, like many newspaper companies, hoping to generate new lines of revenue as its traditional businesses sagged). The company established partnerships with a relatively small number of colleges and other organizations to offer courses jointly as well as offering its own, but the business apparently did not take off.  

"I can confirm that after July 31, Knowledge Network courses will no longer be available online," said Linda Zebian, manager of corporate communications at the Times Company. "We’re examining our education businesses to see how we will structure them in the future to best serve readers and others who are interested in learning with The New York Times."

Monday, June 11, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Virginia announced Sunday that President Teresa A. Sullivan, in office for just under two years, will resign on August 15. The announcement shocked many at the university, with faculty leaders and prominent campus officials reporting that they had seen no sign of any imminent change in the works, and several said on background that they believed Sullivan had been doing an excellent job.

In a statement, Sullivan cited an unspecified "philosophical difference of opinion" with the board.

A statement from Helen Dragas, the rector (U.Va.'s title for board chair), praised Sullivan, but also suggested a board view that she was insufficiently bold. "[T]he board feels strongly and overwhelmingly that we need bold and proactive leadership on tackling the difficult issues that we face. The pace of change in higher education and in health care has accelerated greatly in the last two years. We have calls internally for resolution of tough financial issues that require hard decisions on resource allocation. The compensation of our valued faculty and staff has continued to decline in real terms, and we acknowledge the tremendous task ahead of making star hires to fill the many spots that will be vacated over the next few years as our eminent faculty members retire in great numbers. These challenges are truly an existential threat to the greatness of UVA," the statement said.

The statement continued by outlining the goal of being in "the top echelon" of universities. "To achieve these aspirations, the board feels the need for a bold leader who can help develop, articulate, and implement a concrete and achievable strategic plan to re-elevate the University to its highest potential. We need a leader with a great willingness to adapt the way we deliver our teaching, research, and patient care to the realities of the external environment. We need a leader who is able to passionately convey a vision to our community, and effectively obtain gifts and buy-in towards our collective goals."

Inside Higher Ed will have a full article on Sullivan's departure tomorrow morning.

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