Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Nevada is the latest state in which legislation to permit concealed weapons on campuses has died. The Nevada Senate passed the bill -- over the objections of faculty leaders. But The Las Vegas Sun reported that the bill died when a divided Assembly Judiciary Committee failed to take it up.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Providing extra scholarship funds encourages community college students to enroll full time and to take summer courses, according to a study released Tuesday by MDRC, a research organization. The study was based on projects at Borough of Manhattan Community College and Hostos Community College, both of the City University of New York.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, the University of Texas at Austin's Raymond Orbach explains research focused on creating a means to efficiently store green energy for on-demand use. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Yale University is very proud of the popularity of Open Yale Courses, a program in which online videos are available of selected courses. But the university was less than pleased -- and has its lawyers objecting -- to a book published by a university in China that is based on the lectures in some courses, including material copied from translations prepared by a nonprofit group. An article in The Yale Alumni Magazine details the university's concerns.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Eight members of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference are leaving that group to form their own conference. The eight colleges are all residential liberal arts institutions in Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. They cited a desire to save time and money on travel by having a conference of closer geographic focus than the SCAC, which includes institutions in Texas, Colorado and Indiana. The members forming a new (not yet named) conference are: Berry, Birmingham-Southern, Centre, Hendrix, Millsaps and Rhodes Colleges; Oglethorpe University and the University of the South.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Bethany University, an Assemblies of God institution in California, announced late Tuesday that its board approved the institution's sale to a group of investors. A statement from the university did not identify the investors, and was vague on the future structure of the institution. The investors, the statement said, "will form a new nonprofit entity to assume operational control of Bethany University. The new corporation agrees to assume all debt and operational liabilities and responsibilities for Bethany University."

Rev. Lew Shelton, who has been president of the university for the last three years, will be leaving that position in July. He did not respond to questions about Tuesday's announcement.

A major controversy in accrediting of late has been the purchase or proposed purchase of regionally accredited nonprofit colleges by for-profit ventures. Ralph A. Wolff, president of the Senior College Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Bethany's accreditor, said that he had seen reports about a for-profit purchase of Bethany, but that he had been told the university would remain nonprofit.

Via e-mail, he said: "We understand that the group mentioned in this press release is intending to maintain the nonprofit status of the university, but will need to verify this and the other arrangements as we work through the transition and related transactions. It is likely that the arrangements being sought will require our review and prior approval, which would provide us with far greater detail than this press release."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Faculty members at the University of Oxford have voted "no confidence" in the higher education policies of Britain's government, Times Higher Education reported.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - 3:00am

An investment group is poised to sign a deal to provide funds to Bethany University, a financially struggling Assemblies of God institution in California, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The article referred to the unidentified group buying the university, and quoted Bethany officials as saying that the funds would allow Bethany to "maintain its mission." Details were not provided. Bethany is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and for-profit purchases of or investments in regionally accredited colleges have of late been controversial.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Association of University Professors is announcing today that Gary Rhoades stepped down, effective Monday, as general secretary. The imminent departure of Rhoades has been rumored since April. The AAUP statement showered praise on him. "Rhoades has been instrumental in effecting a dramatic turnaround in AAUP’s finances, realizing operating budget surpluses and building a reserve fund. Income has been increased, expenditures have been prudently reduced, and financial oversight has been strengthened," the statement said. It also cited his strong support for AAUP chapters, leadership in defending faculty rights, and success in building coalitions with other groups in higher education. As to why Rhoades is leaving, the statement cited "fundamental differences between the general secretary and the Executive Committee of the AAUP on various matters."

Rhoades -- a scholar of higher education who studied issues related to faculty rights and collective bargaining before taking the AAUP position three years ago -- will return to his tenured position at the University of Arizona.

Cary Nelson, national president of the AAUP, said via e-mail that plans will soon be announced for an interim period of leadership at the association's office. Asked about the general secretary's role, Nelson said that the AAUP Executive Committee "is committed to the view that the general secretary's major responsibility is running the national office."

Nelson's point about the general secretary's focus in the office may indicate a key disagreement with Rhoades. Via e-mail, Rhoades said that "it is more important than ever" for the general secretary to be doing "as I have been doing, to more consistently and effectively connect with and provide support for leaders and members in the field, to more strategically and directly focus on local organizing opportunities and on national campaigns around resource allocation (prioritizing core academic missions), governance and academic freedom and the future of higher education."

Rhoades also suggested another area of disagreement: "The extent to which the association can get beyond itself. The AAUP is a special organization. But its future success, like its greatest successes historically, lies less in positioning itself largely apart from others, based on special mission, on its laurels or on past precedent, and more in working behind the scenes more consistently and cooperatively with other organizations within and beyond the [Washington] beltway."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal of a California Supreme Court ruling that upheld a state law letting some undocumented immigrants pay in-state tuition rates at the state's public colleges. The California court's decision last November upheld AB 540, which allows students whose parents came into the United States illegally to pay resident tuition rates if they graduated from an in-state high school and had attended one for three or more years. By declining to hear the appeal, which was sought by a group of students from outside California who said the law discriminated against them because they were forced to pay non-resident rates at California public colleges, the U.S. Supreme Court lets the state ruling stand. California community college and university officials applauded the U.S. court's stance.

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