The National Council on Teacher Quality is suing the University of Wisconsin for access to the syllabuses used in teacher education programs throughout the system, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The council is in the process of rating teacher education programs in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report. While the council has some support in the teacher ed world, many deans are dubious of the council's methodology, and accuse it of unfairly bashing programs. The council wants to review syllabuses to see what material is covered in courses, and has had success in obtaining such information from other public universities. But University of Wisconsin officials maintain that a syllabus is subject by copyright, and thus is not covered by the state's public records law.
Higher Education Quick Takes
U.S. authorities have arrested Seyed Mojtaba Atarodi, an assistant professor at Sharif University of Technology, in Iran, and charged him with violating U.S. export laws by purchasing high-tech lab equipment, the Associated Press reported. He is being held in California.
Many followed the story of Patrick J. Witt, the star quarterback at Yale University, who in November said he was withdrawing his Rhodes Scholarship application, preferring to play the football game against Harvard University than skip the contest for a Rhodes interview. But The New York Times reported that, at the time Witt made that announcement, he already knew that he was no longer in contention for a Rhodes. The Rhodes committee had found out that Witt had been accused by a fellow student of sexual assault. The committee said it would only keep Witt's candidacy alive if Yale would again endorse him. The Times also reported that Witt is no longer enrolled at Yale, and that he did not graduate. Yale officials declined to discuss the case, citing confidentiality. Witt did not respond to requests for comment.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has voted to require public colleges to tell all undocumented students receiving in-state tuition that they are required to seek legal status to reside in the United States, the Associated Press reported. The requirement does not change the fundamental willingness of Texas to provide these students with in-state tuition rates. But the new regulation follows the unsuccessful campaign by Governor Rick Perry for the Republican presidential nomination -- a campaign in which he was attacked by many conservatives for the Texas tuition policy for these students.
Regular-season attendance for football this academic year fell in 8 of the 11 major-college conferences, USA Today reported. Further, bowl games hit a 33-year low.
The University of Western Ontario is changing its name and rebranding itself as Western University, The Globe and Mail reported. The university will remain in Ontario, but officials believe that they will be better able to build an international reputation without the province in the name. Some alumni are poking fun at the change.
Update: The Obama administration has released a fact sheet with full details of the plan President Obama will discuss in a speech today on college prices and costs.
President Obama is planning to talk about the specifics of his college affordability plan today at the University of Michigan, and leaked details appear in The New York Times. According to the Times, the proposal will focus on campus-based aid programs, such as Perkins Loans and work-study, with funds linked to colleges' ability to control college prices and to show that they are providing value to students. The plan will also seek to require colleges to provide more information about financial aid packages (to help families compare offers) and about the earnings and job placements of graduates. The administration will also propose a $1 billion competition (modeled on the Race to the Top program for the states on elementary and secondary education) that would reward states that meet certain goals.
Obama administration officials told the Times that major parts of the program -- including a substantial increase in Perkins Loan funding -- would not require more federal funds, because the funds are repaid and create a revolving fund for future loans. However, Congress would have to approve the plan -- and Congressional approval of any Obama administration proposal is uncertain in an election year when Republicans control the House and have the ability to block most legislation in the Senate.
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey proposed Wednesday that the Rutgers University Camden campus be merged with Rowan University, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The proposal is part of a broader higher education reform plan that would try to redefine and rename the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. The governor says that the Camden-Rowan plan would create a better higher education presence in the southern part of the state. But opposition is already emerging to that part of the plan. The faculty union at Rutgers issued a statement questioning the merger, and saying that its members at Camden want to be part of a research university. While Rutgers and Rowan should cooperate more, the union says, their missions are sufficiently distinct that a merger is inappropriate.
Many Muslim students at Ohio State University are furious at The Lantern, the student newspaper there, for running an ad they view as anti-Muslim, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The ad lists terror suspects under the headline "Former Leaders of the Muslim Student Association (MSA): Where Are They Now?" The ad also promotes a booklet called "Muslim Hate Groups on Campus." That booklet is published by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which also bought the ad. The center is led by the conservative activist who has been at the center of many campus disputes. He told the Dispatch that the Lantern was among the first publications to which he sent the ad, and that he was pleased with the debate.
Stanford University today will release a plan to revise undergraduate education requirements. "Breadth" requirements (those outside the major) would focus on "Ways of Thinking, Ways of Doing." This approach deals both with the content of courses, but also their format. In terms of content, students would be required to study courses to teach them seven skills: aesthetic and interpretive inquiry; social inquiry; scientific analysis; formal and quantitative reasoning; engaging difference; moral and ethical reasoning; and creative expression. In terms of course format, the report calls for freshmen to have courses that include lectures, discussion sessions and small seminars.