Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 18, 2013

Pima Community College has been placed on probation by its regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The college's accreditation woes emerged last month, after a commission site team said it had found a broad range of complex problems at Pima, including concerns about governance and changed admissions policies. The team recommended probation, which the commission approved, notifying the college in a letter earlier this week.

April 18, 2013

Facebook continues to be the most popular social media platform used by colleges to maintain relations with current and potential donors, according to a new survey by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Also highly popular are Twitter and LinkedIn. But the survey found that some forms of social media -- such as blogs and Flickr -- are seeing decreased use by colleges. A report on the survey suggests that colleges are trying to become more strategic about how they use social media, and may be more hesitant to be trying everything at the same time.

 

April 18, 2013

A bill is dead to create a fourth college system in California to award credit and degrees to students but offer no courses, according to the head of the state Assembly's higher education committee.

The bill would have created the "New University of California," which would have issued credit and degrees to anyone capable of passing certain exams. The bill received criticism and news media attention even though it had an uphill battle to become law: its sponsor is Assemblyman Scott Wilk, a rookie Republican lawmaker in a Democratic-majority legislature.

“Of course we need to look at creating different paths for students to achieve college completion,” Das Williams, the Democratic chairman of the Assembly's higher education committee, said in a statement. “At the present time the author of the AB 1306 has decided to pull the bill. This bill, and others like it, must be closely reviewed and solution-oriented to ensure that they meet our state’s higher education goals and prepare our students for a robust career in the workforce.” A spokesman for Wilk did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the bill's fate.

The bill is just one of several across the country this year to suggest new models for graduating students. Another, which is sponsored by the leader of the California Senate, is still believed to be very much alive. It would require California's 145 public colleges and universities to grant credit for certain low-cost online courses offered by outside groups, including classes offered by for-profit companies. 

In Florida, a measure is advancing that would allow Florida officials to accredit individual courses on their own -- including classes offered by unaccredited for-profit providers. 

April 18, 2013

Stan Chesley, who was recently disbarred in Kentucky, resigned from the University of Cincinnati board on Wednesday, shortly after university faculty members asked him to do so, WCPO Digital reported. University officials were quick to praise his service to the university. While Chelsey has denied wrongdoing, the Kentucky Supreme Court found that he overcharged clients in some high profile class actions.

 

April 18, 2013

WASHINGTON -- An immigration bill unveiled early Wednesday morning by a bipartisan Senate group would provide an expedited pathway to citizenship for young immigrants in the U.S. illegally and expand visas for highly educated workers. The bill -- a compromise among eight Republican and Democratic Senators -- still faces a tough road in Congress, but the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities praised it as an important step.

"It contains many welcomed changes to immigration policy that would go a long way toward advancing both the interests of universities and our nation," M. Peter McPherson, the group's president, said in a statement. “As employers, universities want to be able to hire and retain the most talented researchers and educators throughout the world without having to run into bureaucratic red tape. And as educators, we want to retain our most talented international students and keep them in the U.S. where they can contribute to our economy and strengthen our communities."

 

April 18, 2013

Education Sector and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni announced Wednesday that they are withdrawing a report issued in March claiming that faculty teaching loads had gone down substantially, contributing to the rising cost of higher education. That report, "Selling Students Short," said that "from 1987-1988 to 2003-2004, the average number of courses tenured and tenure-track faculty taught per term ... declined 25 percent. It is hard to overstate how dramatic this decline has been." The report argued that colleges would have kept their spending lower had they not made it possible for faculty members to spend less time in the classroom. At the time it was released, several faculty groups questioned the data, and pointed to problems with the report, such as its failure to reflect on the much increased use of non-tenure-track faculty members, who typically teach many more courses than do other professors.

The announcement Wednesday said that the two groups no longer felt that the data from 1987-88 were comparable to those from 2003-4. For example, professors who were not teaching any classes were excluded from the earlier data, but not the latter data. "[W]e cannot determine whether teaching loads for the typical professor declined, stayed the same, or increased," said a blog post from Andrew Gillen, the research director at Education Sector.

April 18, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Andrew Stephen of the University of Pittsburgh explains how your behavior may be influenced by social media connections. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

April 18, 2013

Last week, faculty members in Emory University's College of Arts and Sciences rejected a vote of no confidence in President James W. Wagner. Over the last year, Emory's decision to end some academic programs frustrated many professors, particularly in the humanities. Opposition grew in February, when Wagner's column in the alumni magazine offered as a model for compromise the three-fifths compromise, in which Northern and Southern politicians creating the U.S. Constitution agreed to count each slave in the South as three-fifths of a person for purposes of taxation and Congressional representation. While Wagner apologized for using the example, many people at Emory were stunned that he could be unaware that the compromise is widely viewed as a particularly ugly and racist moment in U.S. history.

On Tuesday, the Faculty Council (an elected faculty body representing all of the university's units) issued a statement of support for Wagner.  "We acknowledge the hurt to our community caused by President James Wagner’s use of the three-fifths compromise clause in his column in the Winter, 2013, issue of the Emory Magazine. He has sincerely apologized for this mistake in multiple venues, and he has held many listening sessions to hear concerns from the community. We as the University Faculty Council accept his apology. While his words were insensitive, they were not malicious in intent, and discussion of them has revealed failures throughout our community to live up to the diverse and inclusive ideal to which we aspire," said the statement.

It went on to describe Wagner's use of the three-fifths example as "particularly unfortunate because it detracts from many endeavors Emory University has initiated under his leadership. Emory has apologized for the role of slavery in building the institution, hosted the 'Slavery and the University' conference, which drew attendees from across the U.S., and created the Transforming Community Project in which people from across the university engaged with our history and current experiences of race, gender, sexuality, and other forms of human difference."

The Faculty Council's statement concluded: "We state our firm support for his continued leadership in the years ahead to continue the work yet to be done."

 
April 18, 2013

A new survey from ACT shows the continued gap between those who teach in high school and those who teach in college when it comes to their perceptions of the college preparation of today's students. Nearly 90 percent of high school teachers told ACT that their students are either “well” or “very well” prepared for college-level work in their subject area after leaving their courses. But only 26 percent of college instructors reported that their incoming students are either "well" or "very well" prepared for first-year credit-bearing courses in their subject area. The percentages are virtually unchanged from a similar survey in 2009.

April 18, 2013

Preliminary results of the vote at Montana State University to decertify its union shows the final margin will be even smaller than the decision to unionize in 2009, which won by a meager 12 votes. After the 375 ballots were counted at the Montana Department of Labor and Industry in Helena, the effort to decertify the Associated Faculty of MSU leads by five votes, 190 to 185. The union, which is affiliated with the statewide MEA-MFT, has challenged four ballots, while its opponents have challenged two.

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