Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Brent Stockwell of Columbia University reveals why the past decade has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of new drugs. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

An instructor in a history class at County College of Morris told a student with a stutter that he should not ask questions during class, and she declined to call on him in class, The New York Times reported. The article uses the case of Philip Garber Jr., the student, to show how students with a stutter are treated. The instructor declined to discuss the matter, and the college declined to tell the Times whether the instructor had been disciplined.

A spokeswoman sent Inside Higher Ed an e-mail saying that college officials were "delighted that Philip is now in a history class where he is fully participating and answering and asking questions. Our standard practice is that once college officials are alerted to any problems a student is experiencing, they take immediate action to resolve those issues. As we do with all students seeking accommodations, we have taken action to resolve Philip's concerns so he can successfully continue his education." Asked if the college considers it legitimate for an instructor to tell a student with a stutter not to talk in class, the spokeswoman responded, "No, CCM does not consider that acceptable behavior."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

A federal judge has ordered Brown University to release fund-raising records related to an alumnus whose daughter, a student, accused another student of rape, Bloomberg reported. The student who was accused has sued the university, charging that it falsely found him to have committed sexual assault, and forced him out of the university, in part (the suit alleges) because of a desire to maintain good ties to the alumnus. In that context, the suit sought access to the records, which Brown had argued it should not be required to turn over.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

Despite a rapidly growing Asian American and Pacific Islander population in the United States, these students are constantly overlooked in federal higher education policy, including the national college completion agenda, according to a new report by the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education.

There is a large disparity among ethnic groups, the report states, with more than four out of five East Asians and South Asians enrolled in college earn at least a bachelor's degree. At the same time, a large percentage (almost 50 percent for each of the subgroups) of Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders report attending college but not earning a degree.

“With globalization as a mantra in the college completion agenda, it is essential to look at the importance of reaping the full benefits of diversity in American society and increasing degree attainment among all underserved communities," said Robert Teranishi, principal investigator at the commission and an associate professor of higher education at New York University.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

In a report about public credit released Wednesday, Moody's Investors Service notes that universities, along with other nonprofit organizations, are at an increased risk of adverse tax law changes as a result of the weak economy. Analysts for the company note in the report that while the most severe federal tax law changes, such as requiring nonprofits to pay taxes on investment earnings, are the least likely to occur, states are more likely than before the recession to threaten tax law changes to seek revenue from colleges and universities. The report points to instances of municipalities pressuring nonprofits to increase payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreements or seeking to tax college and university revenues, as Pittsburgh tried to do in 2009, and notes that such behavior is expected to continue.

The report also discusses how colleges and universities have improved financial disclosure since the start of the recession, but notes that such disclosures are still less comprehensive and timely than for-profit disclosures.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

Despite a rapidly growing Asian American and Pacific Islander population in the United States, students from these groups are constantly overlooked in federal higher education policy, including the national college completion agenda, according to a new report by the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education.

There is a large disparity among different Asian ethnic groups, the report states, with more than four out of five East Asians and South Asians enrolled in college earn at least a bachelor's degree. At the same time, a large percentage (almost 50 percent for each of the subgroups) of Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders report attending college but not earning a degree.

“With globalization as a mantra in the college completion agenda, it is essential to look at the importance of reaping the full benefits of diversity in American society and increasing degree attainment among all underserved communities," said Robert Teranishi, principal investigator at the commission and an associate professor of higher education at New York University.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

Responding to protests by Jordanian students who had to end their medical educations in Libya and Yemen, Jordan's government has pledged to find spots for them in one of the nation's four medical schools, The Jordan Times reported. Those students in the first, second or third years will be provided with night classes, while those who were further along will be placed in regular classes.

Monday, October 10, 2011 - 3:00am

The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which is one year old, is holding its first international scientific conference, and the event is renewing the debate about the institution, The Washington Post reported. The university is a private institution with faculty members trained in the West and financial support from evangelical Christians -- all very unusual characteristics for a university in North Korea. Proponents see the university as a sign of progress. But critics worry that it helps North Korea's government.

Monday, October 10, 2011 - 3:00am

The National Council and the Collective Bargaining Congress of the American Association of University Professors on Friday endorsed the Occupy Wall Street protests. The statement announcing the endorsement cited both critiques of national political and economic trends, and of developments in higher education. Of the former, the AAUP said, "Over the last several years, we have watched as those at the very top have prospered while the fortunes of those below the very top have stagnated or declined."

On higher education, the statement cited pressures on students who "are being forced to pay more for tuition and go deeper into debt because of cuts in state funding, only to find themselves unemployed when they graduate." Further, the statement criticized the way many faculty members are treated. "The majority of college and university faculty positions are now insecure, part-time jobs. In addition, attacks on collective bargaining have been rampant throughout the nation, as our job security, wages, health benefits, and pensions have been either reduced or slated for elimination," the statement said.

It added: "Therefore, it is time to stand up for what is right. We applaud the action the Occupy Wall Street movement has taken to highlight the inequity and unfairness of the society in which we live."

Monday, October 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Michael Freeman has resigned as board chair of Nassau Community College after he was indicted in a real estate corruption scandal in New York City, the Associated Press reported. Freeman pleaded not guilty to the charges, which did not relate to the college.

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