Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 1, 2013

Accrediting agencies should no longer serve as gatekeepers to federal financial aid, argues a new report by Hank Brown, a former president of the University of Colorado and Republican U.S. senator. The current accreditation system squelches innovation, interferes with colleges' autonomy, and is riddled with conflicts of interest, Brown said in the report, which was co-sponsored by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and the American Enterprise Institute. In addition to separating eligibility for federal aid funding from accreditation, Brown's report called for accreditors to use transparent performance metrics. The call to break the link between accreditation and federal financial aid has frequently been made by Anne Neal, who is president of the trustees' group.

October 1, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Yagesh Bhambhani of the University of Alberta reveals why hands-free cell phone use makes driving dangerous. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

October 1, 2013

Gallaudet University's chief diversity officer, Angela McCaskill, has sued the university, saying that she suffered discrimination and retaliation for signing a petition to have Maryland residents vote on a state law permitting same-sex marriage, The Washington Post reported. McCaskill was briefly placed on leave as some on campus said it was inappropriate for a diversity officer to sign a petition widely viewed as  way to block gay marriage. McCaskill has argued that she took no stand on same-sex marriage except expressing a belief that state voters should get to decide the issue. Her suit says that, prior to her leave, she was deputy to the president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion, as well as chief diversity officer. Since then, she says, her title has become chief diversity officer. Gallaudet officials declined to comment on the suit.

 

October 1, 2013

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the University of Alabama against an artist, AL.com reported. The judge ruled that the university could not bar the artist, Daniel Moore, from creating art based on real images of Alabama athletes. The case -- which has moved from court to court -- has been going on for eight years.

 

October 1, 2013

Bruce N. Chaloux, executive director and chief executive officer of the Sloan Consortium and a longtime leader in the online learning world, died suddenly over the weekend. Chaloux took the reins at Sloan, an association of professionals and institutions involved in digital education, in March 2012. Before that, he directed the Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus, a market place of more than 10,000 digital courses, and previously worked at Virginia Tech and Castleton State College in Vermont.

"It is impossible to adequately put into words what Bruce Chaloux meant personally and professionally to each of us," said Meg Benke, Sloan's president and a faculty member in the Empire State College School for Graduate Studies. "He was more than the energetic CEO of our Consortium. He was our good-humored, kind and generous friend. He was an optimistic and dedicated leader who spent his last days doing what he loved: working diligently for online and adult learning opportunities here and around the world. His accomplishments are many, his networks extensive, and his unfinished business is still at hand."

October 1, 2013

Inside Higher Ed's Cartoon Caption Contest celebrates its first birthday today, with the publication of a new cartoon, a chance to vote on your favorite nominated captions from last month, and news about the winner of our August contest.

We invite you to submit your ideas for the cleverest caption for the new cartoon, which you can find here. Vote on your favorite from among our judges' three choices from among the suggestions we received for last month's cartoon.

And kudos to Vicki Dominick, assistant director for learning services at George Mason University, whose caption scored the most reader votes among the three finalists chosen by our panel for August's cartoon. View her winning entry here.

October 1, 2013

Yale University could admit about 15 percent more undergraduates because of a $250 million donation to construct two residential colleges. The $250 million gift from an alumnus, Charles B. Johnson, former chairman of the board of Franklin Resources, is the university’s largest ever.

The donation will be used to build two new residential colleges, allowing the university to admit about 15 percent more students each year and bringing the total undergraduate enrollment to over 6,000. The university is within $80 million of the funds necessary to break ground on the project.

“This is an extraordinary commitment from one of Yale’s most loyal alumni,” Yale President Peter Salovey said in a press release.

October 1, 2013

We will update this throughout the day.

Update (1:30 p.m. EDT):

The Department of Defense has suspended all intercollegiate competitions at the service academies because of the government shutdown, the Naval Academy said in a statement posted on its athletics site Tuesday.

The suspension leaves the status of Saturday’s Air Force-Navy football game unclear. A decision on that game will be made by noon on Thursday, the statement said. 

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Update (12:15 p.m. EDT):

The closure of Smithsonian museums and research centers is impacting scholars’ access to data and records at those institutions.

Lisa D. Cook, an associate professor of economic and international relations at Michigan State University, is in Washington, D.C. this fall where she is a visiting fellow at the Smithsonian Lemelson Center for Invention and Innovation.

She said the shutdown was forcing her to reorganize her research that had been planned for six to seven months and lamented the lack of access to Smithsonian facilities.

“This is a real loss, since the reason for being in residence is because of the access to experts in this area and to people who have created or maintained these records,” Cook said in an e-mail. “These will be hours, days, and missed encounters I will never be able to reclaim.  It also seems to be demoralizing for the researchers on staff whose deadlines and workload will not change, but their ability to meet them will.”

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Update (11:30 a.m. EDT): 

The Education Department has shuttered the website of its research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences. Visitors to the site are unable to access to the department's trove of data on colleges and universities available in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System known as IPEDS. Would-be college students or parents hoping to use the department's CollegeNavigator website -- which allows consumers and others to compare information about individual colleges -- will also be frustrated. The Education Department's main Web site will not be updated, but sites relating to federal student aid programs, including the popular site for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, will mostly continue operating as normal. 

On Capitol Hill, the House subcommittee on higher education has postponed a hearing scheduled for Tuesday about simplifying student financial aid.

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WASHINGTON -- The federal government grinds to a halt today, given Congress's inability to reach a deal on the federal budget before today's October 1 start of the 2014 fiscal year. The implications for higher education are likely to be mild at the start, but could ratchet up quickly if the disagreement drags on.

Below are the contingency plans for various agencies important to colleges, their students, and their employees:

September 30, 2013

North Carolina State University on Friday announced a $50 million gift from the Park Foundation. The funds will support a scholarship program through which students receive a four-year scholarship, a computer stipend, specialized faculty mentoring and various special learning opportunities.

 

September 30, 2013

Unexplained pay disparity exists between male and female early-career physician-researchers, according to an article published in the Academic Medicine journal.

Researchers accounted for specialty, academic rank, work hours and spousal employment and found a 10 percent pay disparity. The disparity, they found, was greater within higher-paying specialties. Women in emergency medicine earned an average of $165,114 compared with men in the specialty who earned $195,771.

About one-third of the initial 17 percent pay disparity could be attributed to the influence of gender-linked beliefs that men need more money to support families. The other two-thirds of the disparity were unexplained.

One potential reason is that women often negotiate salary less aggressively than men and often are judged more harshly for initiating negotiations, researchers said. The authors suggested female residents and fellows take part in salary negotiation training prior to faculty appointments.

“Scholars have noted that gender differences in salary that exist early in a career are likely to widen over time, and that initial salary negotiation may merit particular attention,” researchers wrote in the study. 

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