Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 15, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Brian Hesse, a political scientist at Northwest Missouri State University, chronicles the economic shift that has prompted the growth in beer consumption in Africa. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 14, 2014

Thomas M. Cooley Law School, the country's largest freestanding law school, will be henceforth known as Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School, although the two will remain separate organizations, they announced Wednesday. The boards of the public Western Michigan and the private nonprofit Cooley approved the arrangement last year, but accreditors -- the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the American Bar Association -- signed off on it only recently. The two institutions have collaborated on joint programs for a decade, but said the new alignment -- which will not include any exchange of funds at the start -- will allow for greater collaboration.

Like many law schools, Cooley has struggled with enrollments in recent years, and it announced some layoffs and other kinds of retrenchment last year. It has also been criticized for low placement rates, among other problems.

August 14, 2014

The Obama administration will convene a second gathering of higher education leaders this December, officials announced Wednesday.

The summit will be focused on finding ways to “improve persistence and increase college completion, especially for first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students,” according to a White House blog post.

The announcement comes as White House advisers and Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday hosted several dozen community college leaders to discuss remedial education best practices. The administration also won 14 new commitments by community colleges to expand college readiness for underprepared students.

The summit will be December 4.

(An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the date of the summit.) 

August 14, 2014

Quality Matters, which conducts quality assurance in online courses, spun off from the MarylandOnline consortium and has operated independently since July 1, the nonprofit announced on Wednesday. The program was founded by the consortium in 2003. The organization also announced the formation of a board of directors, chaired by Darrow Neves, the chief information officer at the Community College of Baltimore County.

August 14, 2014

David Borofsky resigned suddenly Wednesday as president of Dakota State University, after less than three years in office, The Argus Leader reported. In a message to the campus, Borofsky noted that a number of administrative changes he made have been "controversial and unpopular." He did not express regret for the changes but said that "a change agent of an organization can almost never be the healer ... and DSU needs to heal. Therefore ... I announce my retirement from Dakota State University, effective today."

 

August 14, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Kari Cooper, a geologist at the University of California at Davis, portrays what happens deep in the belly of a volcano. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 13, 2014

The International Mathematics Union on Tuesday announced this year's winner of the Fields Medal, widely seen as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in mathematics. The medal has been awarded since 1936, but this year -- for the first time -- one of the prizes went to a woman: Maryam Mirzakhani, a professor of mathematics at Stanford University.

 

August 13, 2014

The Obama administration gathered several dozen community colleges, nonprofit organizations, and other groups focused on college readiness in Washington on Tuesday to discuss best practices in college remediation.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Munoz, and other administration officials hosted the meeting in the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

The event, which was not open to the press, was a follow-up to the January White House summit on low-income students. Several colleges and organizations provided updates on the pledges they made at that summit to expand access to higher education. The goal of the meeting was to “discuss efforts to strengthen developmental education and explore effective strategies to improve success for students in need of developmental education,” a White House official said in an email. 

Administration officials also announced at the conference that they had secured more than a dozen new commitments from community colleges and other organizations that focus on remedial education, according to several attendees. 

James Sawyer, provost and senior vice president at Macomb Community College, said his institution was one of those making a new pledge. The college plans to make mandatory a college skills course for all students enrolled in developmental education. He said that such support had boosted students’ persistence rates by 23 percentage points in a smaller experiment at the college.

In addition, the event served as the formal launch of the recently-announced Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness, which is funded by a nearly $10 million Education Department grant and will sponsor research of remedial education.

Karen A. Stout, president of Montgomery County Community College, who attended the meeting, said that she appreciated the administration’s focus on boosting the research and evidence base for remedial education. “The community college role in supporting under-resourced and underserved students was downplayed in the January summit and we weren’t as well-represented as some of the other sectors,” she said. “By hosting this today, the administration recognized specifically the value of the community college sector. This was a really great way to affirm the value of community colleges.”

Among the other institutions and organizations represented at the meeting were: Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University; Patrick Henry Community College; Lee College; Long Beach City College; Harper College; Achieving the Dream; Bunker Hill Community College; College of Ouachitas; Davidson County Community College; Eastern Gateway Community College; Edmonds Community College; Gaston College; Los Rios Community College District; Lower Columbia College; Passaic County Community College; Umpqua Community College; and West Hills Community College; MDRC; Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation; Borough of Manhattan Community College; and Khan Academy. 

 

 

August 13, 2014

Arts and sciences faculty members at Columbia University are increasingly complaining about inadequate resources, The Wall Street Journal reported. Among the concerns: facilities that need to be updated, sabbatical support that isn't complete, and insufficient staffing levels. Professors complain that professional schools at Columbia seem to be benefiting more from ongoing resource allocation. Administrators say that they are talking to faculty about the concerns.

 

August 13, 2014

Google Classroom, the search giant's lightweight learning management system, is now available to any institution that uses the company's Apps for Education. Classroom launched as a limited preview in May and adds a layer of course management on top of Google's productivity suite, which includes apps such as Gmail and Docs.

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