Florida Governor Rick Scott has started talking to appointees to college and university boards about embracing the controversial ideas being pushed in Texas to reform higher education, WCTV News reported. Governor Scott is a fan of Texas Governor Rick Perry, a fellow Republican whose allies are behind many of the reforms. Many of the Texas changes focus on measuring faculty work, and Governor Scott said that was a priority. "One of the things I really like about what he has in there is the fact that we should be measuring our professors," Scott told the News Service of Florida on Tuesday. "I believe students ought to be measuring the effectiveness of our professors because ultimately, it is the families' money paying for this. We really ought to have a measurement system [that is] student-centered."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Washburn University has agreed to pay $210,000 to settle a lawsuit filed last year by two former senior administrators, who charged that the institution's president had fired them because they had cooperated with a review of his performance by board members. Wanda Hill and Robin Bowen, formerly vice presidents for administration and for academic affairs, respectively, at Washburn, sued the Kansas public institution a few months after they were fired last spring. They alleged that President Jerry B. Farley had dismissed them because he considered them disloyal for having shared information with board members about issues related to controversial spending and other topics. Farley declined to discuss the situation with Inside Higher Ed at the time, but told The Topeka Capital-Journal that he disputed the allegations. In a settlement agreement, published by the local newspaper on Monday, Washburn will pay $130,000 to Bowen and $82,500 to Hill (and to their lawyers), and Farley will write a general letter of recommendation for both women. Washburn admits no wrongdoing in the agreement. Hill is now vice president for finance and CFO at Sierra Nevada College; Bowen is vice president for academic affairs at Fitchburg State University.
An article in The Boston Globe explores how a scholarly idea can take off -- and then come under sustained scrutiny. The idea is that certain traits such as smoking, obesity and loneliness are contagious and spread through social networks. It was promoted in 2007 articles by Nicholas Christakis of Harvard University's medical school and James Fowler, a political scientist at the University of California at San Diego. But while the article captured considerable attention beyond academe at the time, it has come under much questioning of late in a series of scholarly papers. Among the criticisms: that the original work didn't adequately rule out explanations beyond social networks for the spread of these traits.
Four universities in Pennsylvania are among the 10 postsecondary institutions in the United States that bought the most "green power," according to a list published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The University of Pennsylvania topped the list, purchasing about 200 million kilowatt hours -- nearly half of its total electricity -- in the form of solar and wind power. Penn's Philadelphia neighbor, Drexel University, appears fifth on the list, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh is listed third, and Pennsylvania State University is sixth.
The Textile Museum, a free-standing Washington institution, is affiliating with George Washington University and will relocate to the campus, as part of a new museum facility, the institutions announced Tuesday. The Textile Museum was founded in 1925 with a collection of 275 rugs and has grown since into a noted collection, with research and education programs and exhibits.
Federal officials have undertaken a process for a major overhaul of rules governing the protections assured to people who are the subject of research studies, The New York Times reported. The revisions are intended to reflect changes in the research being done and to reduce red tape. Many researchers have historically complained about the cumbersome process for having their projects approved, but some critics have said that more scrutiny is needed of studies involving humans.
California's governor signed legislation on Monday that will let immigrants without legal documentation receive privately funded scholarships to enroll in the state's public colleges, the Los Angeles Times reported. But in discussing the measure, Gov. Jerry Brown declined to commit to signing companion legislation that would let undocumented students get state-financed student aid, saying he viewed it "favorably" but did not want to get out ahead of events, since the bill has not yet reached his desk.
In today’s Academic Minute, Seth Chandler of the University of Houston examines how
computer technology is poised to change how legislation is written and applied. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.
Chicago State University officials have been boasting about improvements in retention rates. But an investigation by The Chicago Tribune found that part of the reason is that students with grade-point averages below 1.8 have been permitted to stay on as students, in violation of university rules. Chicago State officials say that they have now stopped the practice, which the Tribune exposed by requesting the G.P.A.'s of a cohort of students. Some of the students tracked had G.P.A.'s of 0.0.