Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 20, 2013

Three former administrators at Carlow University have sued the institution, in federal court, charging the recent elimination of jobs has had an unfair impact on older workers, and in particular on older women, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The women who sued were 61, 65 and 73 at the time that their jobs ended. Their suit charges that 11 positions were eliminated, 6 of them held by women over the age of 60. The suit charges that the duties performed by the administrators were given to younger employees. A Carlow spokesman said that he had not seen the lawsuit and so could not comment on it.

June 20, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Vasileios Lampos of the University of Sheffield reveals what detailed analysis of a period literature says about the spirit of the age. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

June 20, 2013

A New York State judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Columbia University, finding that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue over Columbia's management of a 1927 gift by Italian-American families, Bloomberg reported. The gift was used to create La Casa Italiana as a center for Italian scholarship and culture at the university. But the suit charged that the university permitted numerous programs at the center that weren't connected to the donors' intended mission. The suit was brought by the Italic Institute of America, and the judge ruled that the institute didn't have standing to sue, despite its shared interest with the donors in Italian culture.

 

June 20, 2013

California's community college system this week unveiled a new Web tool that provides average salary levels of graduates of the state's 112 two-year colleges. The Salary Surfer database includes wage data for graduates of degree and certificate programs in about 25 disciplines. It lists the median annual salary for students two years before, two years after and five years after earning a specific credential. In April the system released Web-based "scorecards" on student performance at each college.

June 20, 2013

With the debate over unpaid internships heating up, new data may give pause to college officials who see unpaid internships as a path to future paid employment. The National Association of Colleges and Employers' survey of new bachelor's degree graduates who applied for jobs before graduation found that 63 percent of those who had paid internships received at least one job offer. The figure for those who held unpaid internships was 37 percent, only 2 percentage points higher than the figure for those who hadn't had an internship. The Atlantic summed up the research this way: "Unpaid interns of the world! Get up and leave the office. You have nothing to lose. Literally. Nothing."

June 19, 2013

WASHINGTON -- Education Secretary Arne Duncan told members of the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday that he was "hopeful" a deal could be reached to prevent the interest rate on new federally subsidized student loans from doubling in less than two weeks. The hearing was on the administration's budget request for the 2014 fiscal year, which included a plan to switch to a market-based interest rate. Some Democratic senators expressed skepticism about the plan, saying they don't want rates to increase above current levels, while Republicans said their plan -- introduced before the administration's budget request -- was very similar to the president's. "I think there are some differences, but I think they're resolvable," Duncan said. "I am very hopeful that this can get done."

June 19, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Michael Habib of the University of Southern California reveals why rarely-used behaviors can determine an animal’s evolutionary success. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

June 19, 2013

Researchers at a Spanish university, la Universidad Carlos III of Madrid, have unveiled special intelligent glasses for use by professors when teaching. The glasses have multiple views for the professor, who can see notes for lecture delivery while wearing them. Further, the professor can look at students and then a symbol will appear -- selected by the student -- to indicate whether the student understands the content, and whether the student would like the professor to slow down. The professors who invented the glasses said that they would eliminate the need for a student to make a public statement about not understanding lecture content.

June 19, 2013

After years of prodding from fans and some football coaches, the powers-that-be in college sports (meaning the presidents of the conferences whose members play big-time football) voted to stage a four-team playoff to decide the sport's champion. The first game hasn't even been played yet, but already calls are coming from some coaches and many fans for more -- and the closest thing college sports has to a faculty voice is trying to cut the campaign off at the pass.

The I-A Faculty Athletics Representatives group, made up of professors charged by their institutions to represent faculty interests regarding athletics, issued a statement Tuesday discouraging talk of an eight- (or more) team playoff in the future. "The ink is barely dry on the long-term agreement recently reached by ... conference commissioners and the ... Presidential Oversight Committee for a four-team college football playoff system, yet there are already individuals both within college athletics and from the media calling for more. Enough is enough," the statement said.

“The four-team College Football Playoff design is far superior to any expanded playoff system that would add more teams playing more games over more weeks, thereby further interfering with academic obligations, inevitably overlapping with final exams and extending into a second semester, and increasing risks for serious injuries," said Brian Shannon, president of the faculty representatives' group and the Charles (Tex) Thornton Professor of Law at Texas Tech University. "[We] would strongly oppose any further playoff expansion.”

June 19, 2013

Europe's universities need to focus on teaching, and to assure that all professors and instructors know how to teach, says a new report from the European Union's High-Level Group on the Modernization of Higher Education. The report calls for "certified teacher training" for all instructors by 2020. A statement from the co-chairs of the working group said: "[M]any higher education institutions do not place enough emphasis on teaching in comparison to research, even though both are core missions of higher education. This needs rebalancing. The role of teaching in defining academic merit needs a stronger emphasis and recognition, especially in career terms. Ultimately, we should not forget that this is about the students -- how to offer them the best possible learning environment and education."

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