Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, February 13, 2012 - 4:46am

The Alabama Board of Education is divided over the performance of Freida Hill as chancellor of the state's two-year college system, with four of the nine members giving her low marks in numerous areas as part of a recent evaluation, The Birmingham News reported. Three board members gave her high marks, and two others mixed marks. The criticisms were wide ranging, including a lack of communication with the board, poor relations with the state's K-12 system and poor morale in the system. Hill's defenders said that disgruntled college presidents have encouraged the criticisms. Hill is the sixth person to lead the system since a corruption scandal in 2006.

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Michigan on Friday released a highly critical report on the institution's handling of a complaint that a medical resident at the university had a flash drive at work with child pornography on it. The report faulted the university for taking six months to handle the allegation, and for having a lawyer work on the complaint, rather than notifying the public safety department immediately. Mary Sue Coleman, the university's president, issued a statement in which she called the six-month delay "a serious failure on the part of our institution." The medical resident has since been dismissed from Michigan's program. The report said that no evidence was found that the resident obtained any of the photographs at university hospitals or that he acted inappropriately with any patients.


Monday, February 13, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Bard Ermentrout of the University of Pittsburgh explains what the colorful patterns on a seashell can reveal about the evolutionary history of the creature that created it. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, February 10, 2012 - 4:17am

The University of Texas Board of Regents on Thursday adopted tougher rules for post-tenure reviews for faculty members in the university system, The Texas Tribune reported. Tenured faculty members will receive annual reviews as the basis for salary changes, and they will receive "comprehensive reviews" at least once every six years. The annual reviews will lead to one of four rankings: exceeds expectation, meets Expectation, does not meet expectation and unsatisfactory. Faculty members performing poorly will receive guidance on how to improve. Those faculty members who receive two unsatisfactory reviews will get a comprehensive review that could lead -- if improvement does not follow -- to termination for such reasons as lack of competence, neglect of duty or "other good cause."

Friday, February 10, 2012 - 4:25am

Some alumni of the Yale University School of Management fear that it is abandoning its unique qualities in a bid to compete with top business schools, Bloomberg reported. Yale's management school -- which didn't offer an M.B.A. until 1999 -- has historically had much more of a focus on preparing leaders for the nonprofit or government world than has been the place at leading business schools. But Yale is also ranked well below the top business schools. A new dean who intends to challenge the top b-schools has set off the concerns. He is Edward Snyder, who was recruited from the University of Chicago.


Friday, February 10, 2012 - 4:28am

An article in The New York Times today highlights several recent studies suggesting that education gaps between rich and poor students are growing -- from elementary school through college. At the same time, race-based gaps are narrowing. “We have moved from a society in the 1950s and 1960s, in which race was more consequential than family income, to one today in which family income appears more determinative of educational success than race,” said Sean F. Reardon, a Stanford University sociologist.

Friday, February 10, 2012 - 3:00am

A case study of the impact of Pell Grants on Kansas community colleges has found that a higher maximum Pell Grant has led to more students attending college, particularly in rural parts of the state. The study, released today by the University of Alabama Education Policy Center, found that Pell Grant dollars distributed to Kansas students nearly doubled between 2008 and 2010, and that enrollments at community colleges, including the proportion of students attending full time rather than part time, increased as well. In addition, the study found that "maintenance of effort" provisions in the 2009 federal stimulus law were successful at reining in state increases in tuition price.

The case study was part of a larger look at the impact of Pell Grants on rural community colleges published by the center earlier this year. "This report just explodes the myth that the Pell Grant program is an urban program," Stephen Katsinas, the director of the policy center, wrote in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed. "Pell funding made a tremendous difference in Kansas."

Friday, February 10, 2012 - 3:00am

When should scholarly associations honor a boycott? The Organization of American Historians is promoting a philosophical discussion of the issue, which has been challenging to many disciplinary associations, in an online discussion that will serve as an introduction to discussion at the OAH's annual meeting this year. Several disciplinary associations -- including the OAH -- have moved meetings because of boycotts of particularly hotels or cities or states. Most disciplinary meetings are set up years in advance, making it difficult to predict where a boycott may be in effect, and last-minute moves can be very expensive to associations, which may be stuck with bills for unused hotels. The online discussion features a sustained conversation among a group of noted historians -- including officers of the OAH and the American Historical Association. While the discussion suggests that participants would see some boycotts as appropriate in some circumstances, many questions are raised about when a disciplinary association should take a stand, and whether it is responsible to do so if such actions would endanger the financial health of the associations. The OAH is now inviting others to join the online discussion.

Friday, February 10, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Chris Gabbard of the University of North Florida explains how the academic spectrum can be enriched through the addition of disability studies programs. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, February 10, 2012 - 4:15am

The board of Kean University on Thursday night heard impassioned speeches in favor of keeping and getting rid of President Dawood Y. Farahi before a lengthy executive session at which no decision was made, The Star-Ledger reported. Farahi has clashed with faculty leaders for years, and has to date had strong backing from his board. But the current debate is over the veracity of numerous résumés for Farahi that show papers that never appear to have been published. Farahi has said that he did not prepare the résumés in question, but that staff members he did not name made the errors when preparing versions of the documents.

At Thursday's meetings, supporters of Farahi accused faculty members of having a vendetta against Farahi and said that they were using the résumé issue. Jose Sanchez, head of social sciences, said he couldn't understand the "hatred" many feel for Farahi. Apparently addressing faculty critics of the president, he said: "It may be a lot of fun for you to do all this, but it is sadistic and wrong." But Ashley Kraus, a junior who spoke at the meeting, read from Kean's academic integrity policy and asked why requirements should apply to students but not administrators. "It’s just wrong. It teaches the wrong morals," she said.


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