Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 22, 2014

With a blizzard sweeping the East, AccuWeather.com released a list of the "10 snowiest colleges in the U.S.," and loyal alumni of those institutions started boasting about the rankings. We couldn't help but ask some questions about the methodology when we noticed the Syracuse University was listed as tied for second, while the State University of New York Upstate Medical University (literally across the street) didn't make the list. And it didn't make sense that the University of Rochester could be third on the list but its neighbors, such as Monroe Community College and Rochester Institute of Technology, could have so much less snow so as not to make the list at all. AccuWeather responded that it "could not include all the colleges in the surrounding areas without being repetitive in the same region," so "we choose those colleges that we believed the most people would know."

So with that rather large caveat, here is the top 10 list, followed by typical annual inches of snowfall:

1. Michigan Technological University: 200

2. Syracuse University and SUNY Oswego: 124

3. University of Rochester: 99

4. State University of New York at Buffalo: 94

5. University of Minnesota at Duluth: 86

6. University of Vermont: 81

7. Southern New Hampshire University: 69

8. Western Michigan University: 67

9. Cornell University: 65

10. University of Alaska at Fairbanks: 62



January 22, 2014

What are those peer reviewers really saying, in six words? Check out the hastag #SixWordPeerReview. Some of the entries:

  • You didn't cite my paper: reject.
  • Incremental at best. Enthusiasm is limited.
  • Please cite more of my papers.
  • Six years of your life. Sorry.
  • Needs to be about my interests.


January 21, 2014

A survey of senior academic affairs officers in higher education has found that 84 percent of their institutions have common learning goals for students, up from 74 percent four years ago. This suggests that measuring student learning is now "the norm," says a report on the results from the National Institute for Learning Outcome Assessment. The study also found that the "prime driver" for assessment efforts is unchanged from the last survey: pressure from regional and specialized accreditation agencies.


January 21, 2014

Brent Sandy, a music professor at the University of Iowa, is facing multiple criminal charges after he reported his university-issued laptop missing and presumably stolen, The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported. The university was able to trace the laptop to Sandy's home. He then confessed, authorities said, to taking the laptop home and reporting it stolen because he was scheduled to get a new laptop and had porn on the existing laptop. When authorities searched his house, they also found a container of marijuana. So Sandy now faces charges related to the false report and the pot.

January 21, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Tom Mitchell of Carnegie Mellon University introduces us to NELL, a language learning computer. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


January 21, 2014

The Education Department, citing weather conditions, has canceled its “technical symposium” on the proposed college ratings system that was scheduled for Wednesday, according to an email sent to presenters Tuesday morning. Officials have rescheduled the daylong, public meeting for February 20. 

The symposium was set to take place at the department’s K Street offices in downtown Washington, D.C., where a winter storm warning was in effect on Tuesday and the National Weather Service forecasted three to seven inches of snow. Federal government offices were also closed Tuesday.

The meeting is expected to feature more than a dozen “technical experts” who will make presentations based on the department’s December request for information on how it should develop metrics for a ratings system.  

January 21, 2014

With California facing potentially dangerous shortages of water, the University of California System has pledged a 20 percent reduction in water use by 2020. Each campus has established a three-year average baseline to work from, and will now develop plans to cut water use to meet the 20 percent goal.


January 20, 2014

Nearly 59 percent of campuses have policies that "clearly and substantially" restrict students' protected speech, according to an annual report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and another 36 percent have policies that "overregulate" speech on campus. Private colleges, which are not legally bound by the First Amendment, fare slightly worse in the report; about 62 percent of those campuses substantially restrict student speech, compared to 58 percent of public campuses. However, the percentage of campuses seriously restricting speech is down 17 percent from six years ago, the report says.

January 20, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Harold Gouzoules of Emory University explains the psychology of screaming in humans and other primates. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


January 20, 2014

East Tennessee State University and Loyola University Maryland are both monitoring a possible case (one at each campus) of meningitis. The Loyola case involves a student who has been hospitalized, The Baltimore Sun reported. At East Tennessee State, the university announced that the case involves a dining employee, but not one involved in food preparation or service.



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