Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 6, 2013

CourseSmart, the digital publishing company founded by higher education publishers, today announced options to make renting and purchasing educational materials more flexible. Previously, the company only allowed customers to rent e-textbooks for 180 days -- a window that is now being expanded to half a dozen options ranging from a 60-day rental to purchasing the book outright. CourseSmart also introduced Subscription Packs, which allow students to fill six slots in a "digital bookshelf" for a flat fee of $200. 

"There’s a lot that’s to be said about how digital can save students money," CourseSmart CEO Sean Devine said. "Instead of going out and spending hundreds of dollars on textbooks ..., you can come to one place."

CourseSmart is also working with its publishing partners to add more interactive elements, like embedded videos and multiple choice tests, to its e-textbooks, Devine said.

"One of the criticisms of e-textbooks to date has been that they don’t add a lot of value -- except perhaps saving students money," Devine said. "There’s a fair amount of convergence going on beween what was previously a flat textbook and the more interactive, digital products. It’s our belief that digital products in the future will look more like this."

September 5, 2013

A Pennsylvania court on Wednesday refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought by state officials who want to ensure that $60 million in fines Pennsylvania State University has agreed to pay the National Collegiate Athletic Association stays in the state, The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reported. The NCAA had asked the Commonwealth Court to dismiss a lawsuit, filed by a state senator and Pennsylvania's treasurer, asking that the hefty fine the university agreed to pay as part of a consent decree in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal go into a state-established endowment for child abuse victims, rather than going to the NCAA to spend on child abuse advocacy nationally.

A majority of the court's judges rejected the NCAA's arguments that the Pennsylvania officials did not have legal standing, that the case is moot because Penn State is not a party to it, and that the lawmakers' actions illegally interfere with the consent decree between the NCAA and Penn State, among other things, the newspaper reported.

September 5, 2013

The National Security Agency has doubled, to eight, the number of universities participating in a federal program to "cultivate more cyber professionals in an ever-changing global environment," the agency announced Wednesday. Air Force Institute of Technology, Auburn University, Carnegie Mellon University, and Mississippi State University join 2012 participants Dakota State University, the Naval Postgraduate School, Northeastern University, and the University of Tulsa in the program, in which some students and faculty members from the institutions participate in summer seminars at the agency. The news release clearly states: "Participating students and faculty members do not engage in actual U.S. government intelligence activities."

September 5, 2013

Stephen M. Ross, a real estate developer, has given the University of Michigan a gift of $200 million. The funds will be split between the business school and the athletics department. Gifts by Ross to Michigan now total $313 million, making him the largest donor in the institution's history.


September 5, 2013

The Modern Language Association’s job listing database is free to everyone, starting Sept. 13.

Previously, faculty and current and former graduate students at MLA-affiliated departments of English and foreign languages (at most Ph.D.-granting institutions) could access the Job Information List at no charge. Non-MLA members without that access had to pay $65, while members paid $40. (MLA also made PDFs of its jobs list available to the public for free upon publication, five times annually. The online jobs list is updated weekly). Some criticized that model and last year, an anonymous group tried to open up the databases to the general public with a website called MLAjobleaks.com. The site is now dead.

In an e-mail, Rosemary Feal, executive director of MLA, said of the change: “The Executive Council attempts to make as much MLA material as possible free or low-cost to as many people as possible. It's our mission to promote the study and teaching of languages, and this is one way we carry out that mission.”

Public reaction so far has been positive. Christopher Lupke, associate professor of Chinese at the Washington State University at Pullman, wrote on the MLA Commons discussion board: “In this age when the humanities are under siege, we need to do everything we can for those just joining the ranks of our labor force. The free MLA [jobs list] is therefore a salutary development.”

September 5, 2013

Today marks the publication of Inside Higher Ed's 12th Cartoon Caption Contest. Click here to submit your most creative ideas for this month's drawing by Matthew Henry Hall. And click here to vote for your favorite among the three nominees chosen by our panel of experts from among the submissions for August's cartoon, which took readers (and some unlucky students) to the great outdoors. 

And we're pleased to announce the winner of July's contest: Jane Gallagher, professor of biology at City College of New York. She'll receive an Amazon gift certificate and a copy of this cartoon signed by Matthew Hall. Find out more about her submission here.


September 5, 2013

Another set of former college athletes are suing the National Collegiate Athletic Association for allegedly failing to educate football players about the long-term effects of head injuries, The Birmingham News reported. The class action, filed by two former football players at the University of Tennessee and one from North Carolina State University, is the latest lawsuit to try to hold the NCAA accountable for concussions and other head injuries suffered in intercollegiate competition. The lawsuit seeks to require the NCAA to provide a medical monitoring program to former athletes.

September 5, 2013

Introductory college biology textbooks prepare students – even those who don’t plan to become doctors – to take medical school examination tests, while devoting little attention to such topics as evolution, a new study shows.

Steven Rissing, professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State University, analyzed eight commonly used introductory biology textbooks and found that all closely followed the curriculum suggested for pre-med students by the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). All texts included at least 50 percent of the primary MCAT biology content specifications within the first 30 percent of text.

Over all, they put a heavy emphasis on molecular and cellular biology while underemphasizing “big issues,” such as personalized medicine, evolution and climate change, that have more relevance to students who don’t plan on being medical doctors, Rissing said in a news release. “We need to have biology education for citizens and voters, not just for future doctors.”

The study was published this week in CBE-Life Sciences Education.

September 5, 2013

The U.S. Justice Department has awarded a $2.3 million grant to a Vermont consulting firm to create a new federal center to promote campus public safety, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced Wednesday. The center, to be jointly created by Margolis Healy & Associates and the University of Vermont, was chartered by Congress last spring in response to violent incidents on multiple campuses. Its work will focus on training campus officials and providing resources designed to help colleges protect the safety and security of their students and employees. Margolis Healy was created by former campus safety chiefs at Vermont and Princeton University.



September 5, 2013

William J. Pepicello will retire as president of the University of Phoenix after seven years in the job, the institution announced Wednesday. Pepicello, who has worked at the for-profit university since 1995, has navigated Phoenix through both strong growth and the contraction that much of his sector has encountered post-recession, and has been a visible presence at meetings of higher education leaders.


Back to Top