Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 12, 2013

The foundation of San Francisco State University has agreed to not invest in companies "with significant production or use of coal and tar sands." Further the foundation will seek to limit investments in fossil fuel companies. Advocates for divestment of fossil fuel companies said that they viewed the move as significant. To date, colleges that have embraced divestment have been small, private colleges in the Northeast, while San Francisco State is the first Western or public institution to take such a stand. The foundation's endowment is in the range of $50 million.

 

June 12, 2013
  • Lisa H. Conti, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and neuroscience at the University of Connecticut, has been appointed as assistant professor of medical sciences at Quinnipiac University, also in Connecticut.
  • Joe Diaz, an adjunct faculty member at Indiana Wesleyan University and Marian University, has been selected as director of corporate learning and operations at Harrison College.
  • Andrew Hermalyn, executive vice president for university relations at 2U, has been chosen as executive vice president and general manager of 2U's Semester Online.
  • Irene Scruton, executive director of the Safety Council of Central and Western New York, has been named MBA Director at the State University of New York at Oswego.
  • Michaele Whelan, vice provost for academic affairs at Brandeis University, in Massachusetts, has been named vice president for academic affairs and associate professor of writing, literature and publishing at Emerson College, also in Massachusetts.
  • Mel Williams Jr., associate deputy secretary of energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, has been appointed as senior associate dean for military and veterans initiatives at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C.

The appointments above are drawn from Inside Higher Ed's job changes database. To submit news about job changes and promotions, please click here.

June 11, 2013

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is objecting to league-wide caps on the numbers of international students permitted to play on intercollegiate sports teams.

"The CCLA opposes unfair discrimination against non-citizens in all areas of law," Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel for the organization, said in a press release posted on the Canada News Wire website. "We are particularly concerned because later this week, the [Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association] will be considering a motion to extend this discriminatory measure and further limit the participation of international students in collegiate varsity sports.”

As the Windsor Star reported, there are currently caps on the numbers of international students on basketball, soccer and volleyball teams, and the athletic association is set to take up a measure that would expand those quotas to cover badminton, cross-country running, curling and golf at its conference this week. The caps are seen as inhibiting the recruitment of international students but Sandra Murray-MacDonell, the executive director of the athletic association, said they are necessary to ensure a fair playing field.

June 11, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Elizabeth Green of the University of Western Ontario explains what shoes found at an archaeological dig in England have to say about the ancient Romans who wore them. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

June 11, 2013

A new analysis of the state of public funding of universities from the European University Association warns of a widening resource gap across the continent. For the 17 higher education systems for which data were available, nine (Austria, Belgium’s French-speaking Community, Czech Republic, France, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, and Sweden) experienced an increase in funding from 2012 to 13, and eight (Croatia, England and Wales, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Slovakia) experienced cuts. The most severe cuts were in Greece (25 percent) and Hungary (19 percent). As the EUA report states, “This is all the more critical as both countries face a general downward trend over the period 2009-2013, with the difference (not adjusted for inflation) between those reference years amounting to about -46% in Greece and about -31% in Hungary.”

The report also isolates the role of inflation in either accentuating or mitigating the effect of higher education cuts or spending increases over the past five years. When adjusted for inflation, seven of  20 systems (Austria, Belgium’s French-speaking Community, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden) have a higher funding level in 2012 compared to 2008, and 13 systems (Croatia, Czech Republic, England and Wales, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Spain) have a lower funding level. 

June 11, 2013

The former department chair at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who was widely blamed for no-show classes and grade inflation that may have helped many athletes remain eligible was offered gifts like football tickets and scheduled classes for athletes' academic counselors, potentially undercutting claims by Chancellor Holden Thorp and an internal investigation's findings that the classes were not designed to benefit athletes. E-mails obtained by the Raleigh News & Observer show that Julius Nyang'oro, who retired under pressure in July, scheduled no-show classes at the behest of academic support staff, who steered athletes to those classes, the newspaper previously reported.

Thorp and other officials have maintained that the systemic scandal, which dates to 1997, was an academic and not athletic one because about half the students enrolled in the classes were non-athletes. Additionally, the National Collegiate Athletic Association declined to punish UNC for the scandal because there were no explicit NCAA rules violations; the "extra benefits" were not provided strictly on the basis of students' status as athletes.

June 11, 2013

The University of Washington -- following years of debate -- has decided to require all undergraduates to complete a course that touches on diversity in some form, The Seattle Times reported. Students could pick among hundreds of courses already offered that deal with a range of different types of diversity, including sexual orientation, disability, class, race, age, gender and religion.

 

June 11, 2013

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Corinthian Colleges Inc., the for-profit chain disclosed Monday in a corporate filing. In a subpoena, the commission requested documentation relating to student recruitment, attendance, completion, placement and defaults on loans, according to the company, as well as information about compliance with U.S. Department of Education financial requirements.

June 10, 2013

The University of Leipzig has started to refer to both male and female professors as "Professorin," ending the use of gender-specific words -- "Professorin" for women and "Professor" for men -- The Local reported. The German language has male and female forms for many words, and the move to use a single word (and the traditional female form at that) has prompted considerable discussion. Der Spiegel quoted Bernd-Rüdiger Kern, a law professor, as saying that that the move reflects "a feminism which does language no good and doesn't achieve anything concrete."

The website Deutsche Welle ran an interview with Luise Pusch, a leader of feminist linguistics, in which she praised the decision. "It is definitely a step forward and not only for the University of Leipzig, but for the whole country. The decision is being talked about and that gets people thinking. Every opportunity to think about our male-dominated language is good for the language as a whole, because the German language is very biased," she said.

June 10, 2013

It has become trendy if not clichéd in recent years to declare that higher ed is the next "bubble" in the American economic system will pop. This view has been particularly dominant in business publications. Forbes has run columns about the coming higher ed bubble, or why a higher ed bubble should be coming, numerous times (see here and here and here and here and we could go on). Many of those articles predict that one or more "disruptions" in higher education (online learning for example) will be key to the higher ed bubble popping.

So we were surprised on Sunday to read in Forbes that the bubble might not be traditional higher ed. A column that starts off by bemoaning the high cost of elite private higher education ends up noting that students go to college (and parents pay for them to do so) for a lot of reasons other than just the learning in the classroom. Students get connections and they value "the experience," writes a staffer for the magazine. The piece may not please all professors and college administrators because it suggests that students want a fun experience, not just the personal educational experience. But based on this conclusion, the author writes: "There’s no college-education ‘bubble’ forming simply because teens go to college with an eye on a fun four years, after which they hope the school they attend will open doors for a good job. Online education only offers learning that the markets don’t desire, and because it does, its presumed merits are greatly oversold. There’s your 'bubble.' "

Could this be the start of the bursting of the higher-ed-bubble-story bubble?

 

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