Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 3:00am

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday announced it will not hear Authors Guild v. Google, a case on whether Google’s book digitization project violates authors’ rights. The court’s decision leaves in place a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which ruled in favor of Google. Copyright experts previously predicted the court was unlikely to hear the case. The justices, as is their norm, did not elaborate on their decision not to take the case.

In a statement, the Authors Guild said it will continue to work on ways to make licensing of copyrighted works easier. The group also promised to "remain vigilant" of digitization efforts that follow Google's model.

“The price of this short-term public benefit may well be the future vitality of American culture,” Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild, said. “Authors are already among the most poorly paid workers in America; if tomorrow’s authors cannot make a living from their work, only the independently wealthy or the subsidized will be able to pursue a career in writing, and America’s intellectual and artistic soul will be impoverished.”

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 9:10am

Syracuse University today announced plans to create a hybrid degree, which the institution hopes the American Bar Association and New York State will accredit. The program will be launched in partnership with 2U Inc., which helps colleges take their academic programs online and already works with five other colleges at Syracuse. Students in the J.D. program would receive much of their instruction online but would also take some in-person courses and participate in externships, according to a news release from the university.

Legal education has been slow to move online, as the ABA has taken a conservative stance in its approvals. In 2013 it gave William Mitchell College of Law (now Mitchell Hamline School of Law) authority to create a part-time hybrid program.

In 2012, 2U helped the law school at Washington University in St. Louis create a fully online master's degree in U.S. law. The law dean at WashU at the time, Kent Syverud, is now the chancellor at Syracuse.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 3:00am

LinkedIn on Monday launched a new smartphone app for college students close to joining the workforce. The app, LinkedIn Students, pulls information from a student's profile and compares it to other users, suggesting popular career paths, potential employers and blog posts to help students with the job hunt. The app, which is available for Android and iOS, is the latest experiment by LinkedIn to connect job seekers and employers. The website previously launched a new portal specifically for workers in Arizona and Colorado.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 3:00am

The College Board has been boasting of late about the free test prep it is offering for the SAT through the Khan Academy. Now ACT and Kaplan Test Prep have announced a collaboration to provide free online instruction, taught by teachers, for low-income students. The new service will be available to all, but those who are not low income will have to pay a fee, currently estimated to be under $200.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 3:00am

Tenured and tenure-track faculty members at the College of Southern Nevada voted 263 to 126 to form a union affiliated with the American Association of University Professors, they announced Monday. The college said in a statement that its looks "forward to moving ahead with the collective bargaining process."

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 3:00am

JetBlue on Monday announced a new employer-sponsored college degree program with some unusual features. The airline is offering its employees with at least 15 previous college credits the chance to earn a bachelor's degree for $3,500 or less.

So far 400 JetBlue employees have signed up for the program. Each is assigned one of six success coaches JetBlue has trained and employs. The airline and its coaches then help employee students map a path to a degree from Thomas Edison State University, an online, public university based in New Jersey.

Students will receive prior learning credits for skills and knowledge they've picked up on the job. They also will be directed to online courses from Sophia, StraighterLine.com and Study.com, which in turn can earn students credit recommendations from the American Council on Education, which Thomas Edison accepts.

"We give them one class at a time," said Bonny Simi, president of JetBlue Technology Ventures, who helped create the program. She said the airline sought to eliminate some of the complexity in earning a degree and to use coaches to review students' transcripts and to help them fill in the gaps.

The company is planning for 1,000 of its 18,000 employees to be enrolled in the degree program on an annual basis, Simi said.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute: Jon Hawkings, research associate in the school of geographical sciences at the University of Bristol, examines how a melting glacier can be a dynamic world and bring life to different parts of the island.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 3:00am

William Troutt (right), one of the longest-serving college presidents in the United States, announced Monday that he will retire in June 2017. At that point, he will have served for 18 years as president of Rhodes College. Prior to being appointed to that position, he was president of Belmont University for 17 years. Troutt has been active in numerous higher education associations throughout his two presidencies.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 3:00am

The following are the winners of the 2016 Pulitzer Prizes in the various cultural categories:

  • Fiction: Viet Thanh Nguyen, who teaches English and American Studies at the University of Southern California, won for his novel The Sympathizer.
  • Drama: Lin-Manuel Miranda won for his Broadway hit Hamilton.
  • History: T. J. Stiles won for Custer's Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America.
  • Biography: William Finnegan won for Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life.
  • Poetry: Peter Balakian, the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in humanities and a professor of English at Colgate University, won for Ozone Journal.
  • General nonfiction: Joby Warrick won for Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS.
  • Music: Henry Threadgill won for In for a Penny, In for a Pound.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 3:00am

Follett Corp. on Monday announced it has bought media distributor Baker & Taylor, a massive acquisition that fortifies Follett's dominant position as a provider of books and other materials to libraries, schools and more. The acquisition, the terms of which were not disclosed, adds another billion dollars to Follett's existing $2.6 billion sales revenues, the company said in a press release. Baker & Taylor will continue to operate out of its Charlotte, N.C., offices, according to the announcement (Follett is based in Westchester, Ill.).

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