In today’s Academic Minute, Emily Mooney of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts explains nature's complex balance between plants and animals. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The private equity firm Providence Equity Partners could announce a deal to buy Blackboard as early as this week, The Wall Street Journal reported. Blackboard announced in April that it was considering offers for a purchase, and much of the speculation has centered on private investors as opposed to companies in the higher ed market.
Purdue University spent about $500,000 in 2010 on its "Makers, All" branding campaign, which has won kudos from marketing professionals, but angered many students and alumni, The Journal and Courier reported. The newspaper had to file an open records request to obtain the costs from the university. Critics have seen the campaign as moving away from the "Boilermakers" name of the university's athletics teams, but the university has said that the branding campaign is not an attempt to do so.
When presidents bring appointments to boards, they are typically approved (at least those discussed in public). But the trustees of San Joaquin Delta College surprised the new president, Jeff Marsee, by rejecting his proposed promotion of the dean of planning and research to serve as acting vice president for business, The Record reported. Trustees said that more candidates should have been considered. Board members have in the past been accused of micromanaging.
Three men have been arrested for selling fake caste certificates to applicants to Delhi University, The Times of India reported. Under India's affirmative action formulas, applicants from disadvantaged castes have radically improved odds of admission. The Times reported that at least 13 students have been determined to have been admitted with fake certificates of their castes.
An article in The Chicago Tribune examines the issues associated with the awarding of a merit scholarship -- a taxpayer-funded full ride for four years -- to the granddaughter of a public university president. There are no allegations that Maddie Poshard is anything but a top student, or that Glenn Poshard, her grandfather and the president of Southern Illinois University, interfered in the process. But several of those quoted suggest that, strictly from a perception perspective, others would have discouraged her from applying.
Leading academics are threatening to resign from peer review panels of Britain's Arts and Humanities Research Council unless it removes references to the "Big Society" from its agenda, Times Higher Education reported. The Big Society is a policy term coined by the governing Conservative Party to reflect its goals of encouraging local decision-making (as opposed to national), voluntarism and other values. Critics of the Big Society say it is window dressing for a policy of ignoring many problems, and critics of its mention in the humanities council's agenda say that it effectively favors grant proposals consistent with the Conservative philosophy.
The U.S. Department of Education on Thursday released its latest data on students with disabilities in higher education. As of the 2008-9 academic year, 88 percent of two- and four-year institutions reported enrolling students with disabilities. Specific learning disabilities were the most common (31 percent), followed by Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (which were counted separately) at 18 percent, then mental or psychiatric conditions at 15 percent. About a tenth of the reported learning disabilities were related to physical health and illness. Students who have trouble seeing accounted for 3 percent. The survey also revealed deficits between the needs of students with disabilities and what their college are providing. For example, while nearly every college has a main website, only 24 percent of them said they accommodated disabled users "to a major extent." About half of institutions cited financial barriers to training faculty and staff to accommodate various disabilities and buying "appropriate technology" for students with impairments.
The House of Representatives on Thursday approved long-debated legislation to revamp federal patent laws, a measure that has strong support from higher education groups. The House-passed bill will have to be reconciled with a version the Senate approved in March, but the legislation is expected to be signed into law by President Obama.