Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, January 28, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of the District of Columbia is eliminating nearly 100 positions -- most of them administrative but some faculty jobs as well -- to deal with financial problems, The Washington Post reported. Few details are available on which jobs will be cut. The cuts are projected to save $8.5 million a year.


Monday, January 28, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Kevin Shakesheff of the University of Nottingham explains an innovation that allows better observations of embryonic development in the lab. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, January 28, 2013 - 4:01am

Xiamen University, in China, will open a branch campus in Malaysia in 2015, The New York Times reported. The primary language of instruction will be English.


Monday, January 28, 2013 - 3:00am

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made a $350 million donation to Johns Hopkins University, his alma mater. The new gift brings his lifetime giving to Hopkins to $1.18 billion -- making him the first person to top $1 billion in gifts to an American college or university. The new funds will be used for two primary purposes. The bulk of the money will be used to endow professorships for interdisciplinary work in vital areas. The initial appointments will be in water resource sustainability, individualized health care delivery, global health, the science of learning, and urban revitalization.

The university will use $100 million from the gift for need-based aid for undergraduates. Hopkins is among the more prominent private universities in the United States that have not declared a need-blind admissions policy (meaning that applicants are reviewed and admitted without regard to financial need). Ronald Daniels, the president, has stated that he has a goal of making Hopkins need-blind. An article in The New York Times about Bloomberg's relationship with Hopkins said that he has financed 20 percent of need-based financial aid for undergraduates in recent years.


Monday, January 28, 2013 - 3:00am

Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who plays a key role in Congress on higher education issues, has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2014. Harkin is chair of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and of the appropriations subcommittee for education and health. In those roles, he has been a strong advocate for increased spending on student aid programs and biomedical research. He has been a frequent critic of for-profit higher education, and has backed tougher regulation of for-profit colleges. Harkin said that his proudest legislative accomplishment was having been chief sponsor of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which greatly expanded the rights of people with disabilities in education as well as other parts of society.

Monday, January 28, 2013 - 3:00am

Most of The New Republic's interview with President Obama, published Sunday, is about political issues and his plans for the second term. But the magazine also asked the president, a sports fan, about whether he takes "less pleasure" in watching football, given the dangers faced by the players. Obama said he was concerned about the athletes, and urged the National Collegiate Athletic Association to consider these issues. "[I]f I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football," the president said. He added: "I tend to be more worried about college players than [National Football League] players in the sense that the NFL players have a union, they're grown men, they can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well-compensated for the violence they do to their bodies. You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on. That's something that I'd like to see the NCAA think about."

Monday, January 28, 2013 - 3:00am

Lafayette College is considering what actions it can take with regard to underground fraternities -- organizations that lost their recognition due to various rules violations but that continue to function unofficially, The Express-Times reported. The college's interest in the issue has grown following the death of a freshman who died after drinking alcohol believed to have been provided by an underground fraternity.

Monday, January 28, 2013 - 3:00am

Faculty leaders are questioning why the University of Toledo is putting money into an economic development unit -- University of Toledo Innovation Enterprises -- when budget cuts are increasing class sizes and eliminating sections, the Toledo Blade reported. Critics also are pointing to the $307,000 paid last year to Rick Stansley Jr., a former chair of the university's board. University officials said that there is no improper conflict, and that the agency is needed to promote the region's economy. But Mike Dowd, president of the Faculty Senate, said: "I don’t know how many universities have the former chairman of the board of trustees take a paid position from the university. Is providing funding for Rick Stansley’s activities a higher priority than providing the resources for the instructional mission of the university?"


Monday, January 28, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of Puerto Rico announced Saturday that it will eliminate an $800 fee that has led to numerous student protests, the Associated Press reported. University officials said that they could manage without the revenue generated by the fee because of government pledges to increase financial support for the university.

Friday, January 25, 2013 - 3:00am

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the launch of the 100,000 Strong Foundation, which aims to expand opportunities for American students to learn Mandarin and study abroad in China. The foundation, housed at American University, in Washington, D.C., grows out of a U.S. State Department initiative to increase the number of Americans studying in China to 100,000 over four years. According to the latest numbers available, 14,596 Americans studied in China in 2010-11, representing a 4.9 percent increase from the previous year.

“What we’re trying to do as a foundation is to create a permanent, independent infrastructure around supporting study abroad and the study of Mandarin,” said Carola McGiffert, president of the 100,000 Strong Foundation and formerly a senior adviser to the assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs at the State Department. 

The foundation is being established with $2 million in seed funding -- $1 million each from the Ford and Florence Fang Family Foundations. McGiffert said first steps will include launching a media campaign to promote study in China and raising funds for scholarships.


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