Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 27, 2013

Regent's College, a nonprofit British institution, has purchased for-profit American Intercontinental University London from the latter's owner, Career Education Corporation, Times Higher Education reported. The purchase is the first of its kind in Britain. Regent's will run American Intercontinental as a for-profit subsidiary initially but plans to subsume it within Regent's within a year.

 

February 27, 2013

Two years after they rescinded a deanship offer to a lesbian, prompting a debate about sexuality at the institution, Marquette University officials have again flip-flopped on their support – this time of a student group – because it was at odds with the Roman Catholic institution's mission and identity. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Marquette’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center is no longer chartering the student-run workshop FemSex, after a student alerted the provost and president to the workshop’s curriculum. Officials say that they were not initially aware of the workshop’s content. The resource center is in its first year, a spokesman said, and is working with administrators to clarify its student program approval process.

The center’s charter states that it “maintains fidelity to the University’s Catholic Jesuit heritage and character by attending to the needs of its students, both social and intellectual, and fostering knowledge and justice on issues having to do with gender and sexuality.” The more potentially contentious contents of FemSex’s curriculum include fostering safer sex, abortion, masturbation, and homosexuality. The group was also scheduled to discuss the intersection of faith and sexuality.

In a statement sent to Inside Higher Ed, FemSex at Marquette co-founder Claire Van Fossen said the workshop does not push an ideology or morality. The group’s mission statement: “FemSex provides a safe space for exploration, encourages honest dialogue, and facilitates collective learning. It engages and grapples with the social forces that inform individual experiences, and seeks to build allyship.” FemSex evolved from unrelated but identically named groups at Brown University and the University of California at Berkeley.
 

February 27, 2013

More than 60 percent of colleges and universities expect the cost of providing residential network computing access to go up, but only 39 percent saw an increase in their budgets in the last year and 10 percent saw a decrease. These are among the statistics in a new report by the Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education and the National Association of College and University Business Officers. The report may be found here.

February 27, 2013

A new institute dedicated to Israel studies has opened in Washington. The Israel Institute, to be led by Itamar Rabinovich, formerly Israel’s ambassador to the United States and the president of Tel Aviv University, was established with funding from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. It plans to fund doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships, research grants, and visiting professorships, as well as fellowships for students enrolled in Israel studies programs at Israeli universities, residences for Israeli artists, and internships at Washington think tanks for policy-oriented Ph.D. candidates. Other planned activities of the institute, including support for academic conferences, are outlined here. The members of the institute's advisory board can be found here

Ariel Ilan Roth, executive director of the Israel Institute, said its goals are to “bring coherence” to the growing but “jumbled” field of Israel studies, and to serve as a source of funding and support for scholars pursuing Israel-related scholarship.

“We want to provide financial and structural opportunities for people to develop a skill-set and to do so under the most rigorous academic conditions,” Roth said. “We’re talking about serious study: we’re not talking about political advocacy, we’re not talking about political lobbying. We’re talking about applying the best tools of academic exploration to whatever aspect of the modern Israeli experience the scholar sees fit to explore.”

Nathan J. Brown, president-elect of the Middle East Studies Association and a professor of politics at George Washington University, said he was pleased to see the establishment of a new scholarly institute dedicated to the region (albeit one country within it): "This is a time when for example, funding for Title VI programs has been cut, so to have new support for anything related to Middle East Studies is good," he said.

February 26, 2013

Arkansas legislators gave final approval Monday to a bill, expected to be signed into law by the governor, that gives public colleges and universities the option of allowing faculty and staff members to carry concealed weapons on campus, the Associated Press reported. The boards of colleges that don't give their employees that option would be required to reconsider the policy every year. Arkansas higher education leaders opposed an earlier version of the legislation, which would not have allowed colleges to opt out of concealed carry for campus employees. But the opposition was dropped after the bill was amended to make this an option, not a requirement, for colleges.

 

February 26, 2013

Despite headlines about the rising price of a college degree, fewer families are saving money for college and fewer have a plan to pay than in the past, according to a survey released today by Sallie Mae. The annual survey about families' saving habits found that only 50 percent of families with children younger than 18 were saving for college, a drop of 10 percentage points from 2010. On top of that, 16 percent of respondents said they were saving less than the previous year, citing unexpected expenses, higher cost of living, and lower income. When asked to describe their feelings about saving for college, parents were more likely to say that they felt overwhelmed, annoyed, frustrated, or that they don't like thinking about it than they were to say they were confident.

February 26, 2013

Senate Republicans are raising new questions about payments Jack Lew, President Obama's nominee to become treasury secretary, received upon leaving a top position at New York University, The New York Times reported. Lew left the position of executive vice president in 2006 to take a post at Citigroup. On Monday it was revealed that Lew -- who was earning in excess of $700,000 a year since starting at NYU in 2001 -- received an exit payment of $625,000. While deferred compensation and bonuses are common for long-time leaders or presidents of colleges and universities, Lew's tenure at NYU was not exceptionally long. NYU officials said that the payment reflected his successful work at the university.

One of the Republicans reviewing Lew's nomination is Charles Grassley of Iowa, who regularly raises questions about salaries and benefits provided by nonprofit organizations. "Mr. Lew’s track record of getting well paid by taxpayer-supported institutions raises questions about his regard for who pays the bills,” Grassley said. “The problem of colleges that always seem to find money for the executive suite even as they raise tuition is not unique to New York University. However, New York University is among the most expensive, has a well-funded endowment, and has high student debt loads. It should explain how its generous treatment of Mr. Lew and other executives is necessary to its educational mission."

February 26, 2013

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center today released a state-by-state rundown of graduation data, which is based on a broad sample representing about 97 percent of students who attend public and private nonprofit institutions. The report is a companion to a national completion data study the group released last fall. Both are based on students who first enrolled in 2006 at the 3,300 colleges and universities that submit data to the clearinghouse, which is a nonprofit that collects enrollment data and conducts degree verifications.

February 26, 2013

It's fashionable among some governors and pundits to suggest that the only way for students to get ahead economically these days is to embrace the most utilitarian of majors. So the results of an analysis by Bloomberg Businessweek may be of interest. The magazine wanted to see which undergraduate colleges produced the students with the highest GMAT scores at the top 114 M.B.A. programs. The college whose graduates scored highest and ended up in the leading business schools is an institution where you can major in ancient history, film studies or anthropology, but not business. Swarthmore College topped the list. To be fair, those at some of the other institutions on the top 10 could have majored in business or related fields. Also of potential interest: 6 of the top 10 were colleges outside the United States. They include three in India, one in Canada, one in China and one in Britain.

 

February 26, 2013

Wayne Watson was hired as president of Chicago State University in 2009 over strong objections of faculty members, who noted that he had clashed with professors while leading the City Colleges of Chicago. Board members, however, said that he would improve enrollment figures and repair ties with the faculty. On Monday, the university announced Watson was leaving. Enrollment has dropped and the faculty voted no confidence in him last year, The Chicago Tribune reported. Board members said that they felt the university needed new leadership. Watson did not comment. He was midway through the fourth year of a five-year contract, and will now receive a one-year sabbatical at his $250,000 salary.

 

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