Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 21, 2013

New data from the Association of American Medical Colleges show that while there has been diversification of the medical school student body, not all groups are showing the same kinds of gains. The percentage of medical school applicants who are white continues to fall (down 26 percent in the last three decades) such that 55 percent of 2011 applicants were white. Another 20 percent are Asian. Just over 7 percent of applicants were black. AAMC noted as an area of concern the gender split among black applicants, where 65 percent of first-time applicants are women. Other racial groups have much more gender balance.

 

February 21, 2013

The National Collegiate Athletic Association filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday over a new Pennsylvania law that would interfere with its sanctions against Pennsylvania State University stemming from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case. Among other penalties, the NCAA fined Penn State $60 million, to be donated to programs that benefit victims of child abuse nationwide. Months after Penn State agreed to the sanctions, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA in January, arguing that the money should stay in-state. The NCAA’s lawsuit against Corbett and other state officials seeks to invalidate a law, signed by Corbett on Wednesday, that would require that the money be paid into a state endowment and then distributed to child sex-abuse prevention programs in Pennsylvania.

The NCAA says in its lawsuit that the Pennsylvania law violates an article in the Constitution declaring that states may not make laws “impairing the obligation of contracts”; a Fifth Amendment clause that says “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”; and an article providing that “The Congress shall have power … [t]o regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with Indian tribes.”

NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a news release that members must abide by the rules to which they have agreed. “If individual members or state lawmakers take it upon themselves to decide what sanctions are appropriate, simply to protect their home team,” he said, “then collegiate sports would be dramatically altered.”

February 21, 2013

Faculty members in Emory University's College of Arts and Sciences voted Wednesday to censure President James Wagner for his remarks seeming to endorse the Constitution's three-fifths compromise as a model for dealing with disagreements. While Wagner has since apologized for the "clumsiness" of his statement, many faculty members and students remain furious about his remarks and unimpressed by the apology. Faculty members said that the censure resolution passed on a voice vote, with strong support. The professors considered a vote of no confidence, but postponed consideration of that measure pending an appearance by Wagner. His spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment on the censure vote.

February 21, 2013

David Bergeron, the acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the U.S. Education Department, is resigning in March to take a position with another organization, sources said Wednesday. Bergeron, who has worked at the department for more than 30 years, has served as acting assistant secretary since Eduardo Ochoa left the post in May to become interim president of California State University at Monterey Bay.

The search for a political appointee to replace Ochoa permanently is said to be under way. Since last fall, observers have pointed to a lack of a coherent vision to drive policy making at the Education Department, in large part due to departures of key political appointees and policy staffers during the president's first term. Those departures have continued as the second term begins, including Zakiya Smith, formerly of the White House Domestic Policy Council. With the departure of Bergeron slightly more than a year after that of Daniel Madzelan, another long-time senior staff member, the department has lost close to 60 years of higher education experience and knowledge.

February 20, 2013

The Graduate Management Admission Council, which runs the Graduate Management Admission Test, is today introducing Reflect, a new service to test the "soft skills" of students. GMAC hopes that business schools (and employers and other colleges) will use the test to identify students' personality-related skills, and to help students develop their strengths and compensate for weaknesses. The test will take about 45 minutes and cost $99, which could be paid by the student or by a college wanting to test a class or a cohort. The test consists of more than 500 short answer questions (many of them true/false or yes/no). Those who take the test will get a report on how they score in 10 areas (such as resilience, drive and collaboration) as well as strategies based on their skill level.

Joseph P. Fox, associate dean and director of M.B.A. programs at Washington University in St. Louis, said that his institution wants to try using the test in organizational behavior and leaderships classes. Via e-mail, he said this would be valuable because "year after year employers identify the fact that well-developed soft skills are of paramount importance in the hiring and promotion process. They take the technical skills, tools, and intellectual horsepower as the 'price of entry' into their consideration. But they make the tough (and final) choices based on the other so called 'soft skills.'"

In recent years, the Educational Testing Service has been encouraging the use of the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT, and ETS has promoted its Personal Potential Index as a tool in which applicants to graduate schools can be measured on some similar characteristics as those that will be measured in Reflect. But a GMAC spokeswoman said that Reflect was not appropriate as an admissions tool.

 

 

February 20, 2013

Daniel LaVista, chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District since 2010, has announced he will be leaving the position, The Los Angeles Times reported. During his tenure, the district has dealt with severe state-imposed budget cuts and faced considerable scrutiny over management of a massive construction program.

 

February 20, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Jan Amend of the University of Southern California explains efforts to understand microbes that live deep below the surface of the earth. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

February 20, 2013

Clerical and support staff workers at the University of Akron have voted to unionize and to be represented by the Communications Workers of America, The Akron Beacon Journal reported. The union already represents skilled trades and crafts workers at the university.

 

February 20, 2013

Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese will deliver the 2013 Jefferson Lecture, the National Endowment for the Humanities announced Tuesday. Scorsese is the first filmmaker chosen for the honor, which is typically awarded to a scholar in the humanities (and is the highest accolade the federal government bestows for such work). NEH Chairman Jim Leach said that Scorsese "follows in the tradition of earlier speakers like John Updike, Barbara Tuchman, and Arthur Miller in revealing a profound understanding and empathy for the human condition.”

This year's lecture will be held on Monday, April 1, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

February 20, 2013

Northern Illinois University has fired Donald Grady as police chief, The Chicago Tribune reported. Grady was hailed as a hero for his response to a campus shooting five years ago, but his dismissal follows reports of police misconduct in a rape case. Grady is planning to appeal the dismissal.

 

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