Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, April 29, 2011 - 3:00am

Graduate students at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education are charging -- citing tenure denials -- that the institution has shifted away from an emphasis on social justice and equity issues, The Boston Globe reported. Three faculty members who focus on such issues have been denied tenure in the past three years. Further, other professors who work on equity issues have been recruited to move to other universities. Kathleen McCartney, the dean, told the Globe: "I respectfully disagree with the view, voiced by some students and others, that the school is not committed to equity, diversity, and social justice as objects of inquiry."

Friday, April 29, 2011 - 3:00am

More than one million community college students in 31 states do not have access to federal student loans because their institutions choose not to offer them, according to a new report by the Project on Student Debt. (The report is a followup to a 2008 study by the group, and finds modest changes since then.) Many community college administrators fear that participation in the federal loan program would put their students at risk of losing federal financial aid if too many students at the institutions do not repay their loans. The report notes that there are “persistent racial and ethnic disparities,” with nearly one in five Native American students and one in six African-American students attending community colleges that do not participate in the federal loan program. In addition, the report notes that California “now has the largest number of community college students -- about 214,000 -- without access to federal loans.”

Friday, April 29, 2011 - 3:00am

Exactly what it will amount to and whether it will prompt the U.S. Education Department to temper its plan to toughen regulation of for-profit colleges is unclear. But as published reports document that critics of the department's approach have ramped up their spending on lobbying against new rules, evidence is emerging that the lobbying appears to be having an impact. Dow Jones Newswire and Bloomberg, among others, cited unnamed sources in reporting Thursday that the department's inspector general was investigating aspects of the relationship between the agency's officials and Wall Street investors who benefit when for-profit colleges' stock falls. Egged on by advocacy groups' assertions that the investors improperly influenced the department's regulatory process, two Republican U.S. senators urged the inspector general to investigate the department's ties to the short sellers, A spokeswoman for the inspector general said Thursday that the office does not confirm the existence or status of investigations. But it is uncommon for federal agencies' inspectors general to ignore requests from members of Congress, so even if an investigation is indeed under way, gauging its seriousness is difficult. Also on Thursday, Sen. Michael B. Enzi, the senior Republican on the Senate's education committee, sent a letter asking Education Secretary Arne Duncan for documents related to the negotiated rule making session that produced the new rules on for-profit colleges.

Friday, April 29, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Quinnipiac University's Paul Janensch discusses the radio roots of a rapidly disappearing entertainment genre, the soap opera. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, April 29, 2011 - 3:00am

Stanford University's Faculty Senate voted Thursday to invite the Reserve Officer Training Corps back to the campus, The Los Angeles Times reported. ROTC has been absent since the Vietnam era. In recent years, faculty members have opposed its return while the military continued its policies discriminating against gay people, but the passage of a law authorizing the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" cleared the way for Thursday's vote.

Friday, April 29, 2011 - 3:00am

The Modern Language Association has announced the creation of an office of scholarly communication, which will expand the association's publications program and also explore new forms of scholarly communication. The office will be led by Kathleen Fitzpatrick, who is currently professor of media studies at Pomona College, and a co-founder of the digital scholarly network MediaCommons. Her next book is Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy, forthcoming from New York University Press this fall.

Friday, April 29, 2011 - 3:00am

In the wake of reports of corruption in management of the Fiesta Bowl, Mark Emmert, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, has formed a task force to review the process the organization uses to license postseason football bowl games. Unlike with Division I men’s basketball, the NCAA does not officially run the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) postseason. Instead, it simply affirms whether bowls meet certain criteria before allowing them to host member teams. In the past, the financial management of bowls has largely dominated the approval process. Emmert said in a teleconference with reporters Thursday that he would like to expand NCAA oversight of bowls to include a review of their “governance,” “conflict of interest policies” and “advertising standards.” Emmert also announced that, until the task force’s work in revising approval criteria is complete, there is a moratorium on the NCAA’s certification of any new bowl games for “no more than three years.” He noted that the task force -- to be chaired by Harvey Perlman, chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln -- is scheduled to report back to the NCAA Board of Directors at its October meeting.

Friday, April 29, 2011 - 3:00am

Several of Pennsylvania's public universities should take advantage of the fact that they sit atop the Marcellus Shale reserve by drilling for natural gas, Gov. Tom Corbett told a meeting of the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Trustees, according to The Erie Times-News. Corbett has proposed massive cuts in state support for four-year public colleges in the state, and he suggested that the six campuses of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education that are astride the gas reserve could offset the reductions by tapping into it.

Friday, April 29, 2011 - 3:00am

Fontbonne University announced Thursday that it has rescinded an invitation to Greg Mortenson, the author and philanthropist, to be the 2011 commencement speaker and to receive an honorary degree. A segment on "60 Minutes" this month detailed accusations about inaccurate portions of the Mortenson book Three Cups of Tea and about the management of his foundation. A statement from the university said that it acted after a faculty vote to take back the invitation, and that the student government also backed the move. The statement noted that the university had been unable to discuss the matter with Mortenson. “The purpose of our commencement is to honor Fontbonne graduates,” said Dennis Golden, Fontbonne's president. "We want to focus on their achievements and accomplishments."

Friday, April 29, 2011 - 3:00am

Robert Kevess, a physician who worked for more than 20 years in the student health center at the University of California at Berkeley, was charged Thursday with eight counts of sexual exploitation of a patient, seven counts of sexual battery involving false professional purpose and four counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. All of the allegations involve male patients who were students at the time Kevess treated them. Robert Beles, Kevess's lawyer, said that his client had been "grossly overcharged." He said that some of the incidents were activities between consenting adults. But Beles also said that Kevess may have had a "lapse of professional judgment." Berkeley officials issued statements expressing shock about the charges, pledging continued cooperation with authorities and offering support to any students concerned about the situation.

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