Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 26, 2014

The former head of San Jose State University's department of justice studies misused campus funds for his own purposes and engaged in conflicts of interest, and university administrators failed to report the problems to the state, an audit by the California State University System has found. The San Jose Mercury News reported that San Jose State had originally investigated the alleged misspending by Mark Correia in 2013, but had found no improprieties because the tens of thousands of dollars in funds had been repaid.

The Cal State system audit reached a different conclusion. Correia, now an administrator at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, did not respond to a request by the Mercury News for comment.

September 26, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Ching-Hua Chuan, assistant professor of computing at the University of North Florida, discusses the addition of an element of technology into the music composition process. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 25, 2014

The day after a sophomore fraternity member fell from a bridge to his death, officials at Clemson University suspended all social and new-member initiation activities at its 24 fraternities. The university did not specifically cite the student's death as the cause of the suspension, but said that the decision was made "in the wake of several recent reports of violations of the law or student conduct code." In a statement Tuesday, the university said that "matters of a criminal nature" had been turned over to law enforcement agencies and that Clemson's Office of Community and Ethical Standards was also investigating some violations.

“It is especially prudent to suspend fraternity activities given the tragic death of Tucker Hipps," Gail DiSabatino, vice president of student affairs at Clemson, said. "There has been a high number of reports of serious incidents involving fraternity activities, ranging from alcohol-related medical emergencies to sexual misconduct. These behaviors are unacceptable and mandate swift and effective action to protect students. There is no higher priority than the safety and welfare of our students.”

September 25, 2014

A state audit has found that the University of North Texas consistently received more state funds than it should have by manipulating its payroll expenditures, The Dallas Morning News reported. The audit to be released today, which the newspaper obtained, recommends that the Legislature require the university to repay at least $75.6 million over a decade to reimburse the state for the excess funds it received by manipulating payroll expenditures in a state accounting system and paying some employees with state funds who should not have been paid that way.

September 25, 2014

Adjuncts at Front Range Community College in Colorado are cooking up some activism – recipes and all – with their new project, “The Adjunct Cookbook.” The book contains “food bank-friendly concoctions” intended to shine a light on adjuncts’ working conditions and pay at the college’s four campuses and elsewhere. There’s a section on “'Nobucks’ Coffee Drinks,” for example, and other meal recipes calling for very low-cost ingredients, such as beef scraps and bruised tomatoes. Interspersed are facts about adjunct labor, how colleges spend their money, and names of places and programs where adjuncts can find food and other assistance locally.

“We hope that the book helps [adjuncts] realize they have not failed, but that the system has failed them,” said Caprice Lawless, president of the college’s American Association of University Professors chapter and an adjunct instructor of English who contributed to the book project, in news release. Authors are asking a $7.50 donation for the book, available here. They haven’t copyrighted, they say, because they want their counterparts on other campuses to be able to borrow the model. Andrew Dorsey, president of Front Range, said he hadn't seen the cookbook and therefore couldn't comment. But he said Front Range adjuncts earn from $735 to $1,119 per credit hour, based on experience and other factors, and deliver about 60 percent of instruction.

September 25, 2014

Black men and women who received science and technology doctorates from historically black colleges and universities are more likely to incur significant debt than are their peers who earned their Ph.D.s at predominantly white institutions, and are less likely to receive financial assistance for their studies, according to a new report from the American Institutes for Research. The study examines the role that historically black institutions play in producing black doctorate-holders in STEM fields.

September 25, 2014

Canvas already has its own App Center, and faculty members and designers who use the learning management system will soon have their own repository for course content. Canvas Commons, announced Thursday, will first and foremost give faculty members at the same institution a platform to share content, although Jared Stein, vice president of research and education at Instructure, said it will be interesting to see if faculty members at different institutions will use one another's content. Canvas Commons, which was designed with input from the digital education consortium Unizin, is currently being piloted and will launch in the "coming months," the company said.

September 25, 2014

Enterprise resource management software providers Campus Management and Workday are both rolling out updates to their product lineups ahead of the annual Educause conference next week, and both companies are emphasizing their products' mobile features.

Campus Management launched CampusNexus, a combination of its CampusVue system and Talisma consumer relationship management software. While CampusNexus includes CRM features, but the company will also offer the applications separately.

Workday, which aims to have a full student information system on the market by the end of 2016, released its first component, Workday Student Recruiting, from that suite. Liz Dietz, a vice president at Workday, said the company is focused on building a flexible student information system for nontraditional students and students pursuing credits that don't conform to the standard credit hour. Future components will follow the "student lifecycle," Dietz said, beginning with admissions and curriculum management, and later, financial aid and student records.

September 25, 2014

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear an expedited appeal of a legal challenge that could force major changes in how the National Collegiate Athletic Association conducts big-time college sports, USA Today reported. Both parties in the lawsuit that challenges NCAA rules governing whether players are compensated -- known familiarly as the O'Bannon case, after its lead plaintiff, the former basketball star Ed O'Bannon -- had sought to have the case heard on a schedule that would lead to a decision before an August 2015 permanent injunction takes effect.

That order would allow football and men's basketball players to receive scholarships valued at the full cost of attendance and some compensation linked to the use of their likenesses, which was at issue in the case.

September 25, 2014

The massive open online course provider Coursera is taking a more active role in shaping the content produced by its university partners. In an email to universities creating content for Coursera, the MOOC provider is asking for volunteers to create career-focused Specializations -- a sequence of courses meant to serve as continuing education. Some of the subject areas Coursera wants to expand include business fundamentals and iOS development, but also English language skills. To boost development, Coursera is offering universities funds in the form of a loan repaid with revenue from certificate-seeking students.

"We have been becoming more active over time as we have learned more about who are learners are and what they want," said Daphne Koller, who co-founded Coursera. "We see an increased demand for the kind of courses that give people the kind of skills they need to succeed in the workplace."

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