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Friday, August 5, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management on Thursday proposed regulations for the Pathways Program, which is designed to create simpler paths for students and recent college graduates to seek internships and positions with federal agencies. Politicians and educators have been pushing for the new program, saying that standard federal hiring process is so daunting that it can discourage many students.

The National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration issued a statement Thursday praising OPM for moving ahead with the program. The statement stressed the importance of "the full inclusion of highly skilled graduate students in the Internship and Recent Graduates programs, letting market demand set the programs’ size." The statement added that "what will truly make or break the success of Pathways is its implementation. NASPAA urges federal agencies to begin planning substantive programs that will attract, recruit, develop, and retain students and recent graduates to become future agency leaders. We urge OPM to use its resources to support agencies throughout this process, but to exert its oversight where necessary."

Friday, August 5, 2011 - 3:00am

The bookstore at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville has stopped selling mints that poke fun at President Obama, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The mints feature an image similar to Obama's '08 campaign posters, with the tag line: "This is change? Disappoint/Mints." The mints were pulled from sale after State Representative Joe Armstrong complained about them. While Armstrong is a Democrat, he said he would have complained about mints mocking Republicans too. He told the News Sentinel that there were no First Amendment issues at play. "With a book or something of that nature, then fine, but that [the mints] is sort of a discretionary product they have," Armstrong said. "It wasn't viewpoint neutral. Very specifically insulting to the president."

Others disagree about the free speech issues. Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the university, said: "Let me make very clear, there is no candy exception to the First Amendment," he said. "Free speech is free speech. If you make fun of the president in a mint, it is just as much free speech as it is if you make fun of the president in a political cartoon."

Friday, August 5, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Peter Kelemen of Columbia University conducts a thought experiment
around the political economy of climate change. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, August 5, 2011 - 3:00am

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has started a new fellowship for international graduate students, awarding funds to 48 individuals from 22 countries. The funds will support research in science and engineering during the third, fourth and fifth years of graduate school. The institute originally planned to award 35 fellowships (worth $43,000 a year) but upped the total due to the quality of applicants.

Friday, August 5, 2011 - 3:00am

Unusually high numbers of Italian academics share the same last names, suggesting nepotism is widespread, according to a new study by Stefano Allesina, an assistant professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago. Allesina's work was prompted by Italian journalists' reports on apparent nepotism in academe, such as one university where nine relatives from three generations of a single family are in the economics department. Allesina examined a database with the names of 61,000 Italian academics, and found clusters of names in single departments most prevalent in industrial engineering, law, medicine, geography and pedagogy. The analysis of names found that nepotism was the least likely (names were closest to random in various fields) in linguistics, demography and psychology.The research is being published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Friday, August 5, 2011 - 3:00am

DeVry Inc. on Thursday announced its purchase of the American University of the Caribbean, which runs a medical school in St. Maarten. DeVry already owns the Ross University School of Medicine, in Dominica.

Friday, August 5, 2011 - 3:00am

Rudolf Alexandrov, an adjunct mathematics professor at Chestnut Hill College, went to the second floor of a rotunda as his class was scheduled to begin on Wednesday, jumped off and killed himself in the fall, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. His students and staff members witnessed the death. Alexandrov was 71. The Philadelphia Daily News quoted a police official as saying that Alexandrov had a history of depression.

Friday, August 5, 2011 - 3:00am

The senior college commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges has warned La Sierra University that it could face accreditation sanctions because of concerns that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has too much control over the institution, The Press-Enterprise reported. University officials say that they have discussed the warning, and are taking it seriously. La Sierra has faced scrutiny from the accreditor and some of its own students and faculty members over debates over the teaching of evolution (questioned by the church), and an incident in which a trustee, a vice president, a dean, and an adjunct professor were asked to resign over a recording made, purportedly by accident, of the four men talking informally about the church and university leadership.

Thursday, August 4, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Department of Commerce released new data on Wednesday on the gender gap in science and technology fields -- stressing the economic impact on women. The study noted that women hold almost half of all jobs in the United States, but less than 25 percent of those in STEM fields. This trend continues even though women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more, on average, than do women in other fields. And the data show that of those who study STEM fields in college, women are less likely to seek out STEM jobs. Of men with a STEM degree, 40 percent work in science and technology fields, while only 26 percent of comparable women do so.

Thursday, August 4, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Paul Steinberg of Harvey Mudd College explains the unique position of the United States as a potential global leader on environmental issues. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

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