The University of Wisconsin System has earned approval from its regional accreditor for several competency-based programs, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. The low-cost, self-paced degrees, which will feature prior-learning assessment, include a handful of bachelor tracks, a certificate and a general education associate degree from the University of Wisconsin Colleges, a two-year system. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association signed off on the competency-based degrees, which the system calls the "UW Flexible Option." The system will now apply to the U.S. Department of Education to seek approval to participate in federal financial aid programs.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee has signed legislation that could require Bryant University to reimburse the town of Smithfield for police and fire department service, The Providence Journal reported. The legislation requires that university and town officials try to negotiate an agreement. If they fail to reach a deal, the town can start charging the university on March 1. Bryant, like many private colleges, said it does not object to discussing ways to compensate the town, but that it is inappropriate for a state government to force a private, nonprofit college to pay its locality. The university, which urged Governor Chafee to veto the legislation, said it will negotiate with the town but may also consider litigation against the law.
Lawyers for the families of two University of Alabama in Huntsville employees murdered in 2010 by Amy Bishop have charged that senior university officials knew of the risk that she could become violent, and protected themselves without warning others, AL.com reported. The families are suing various administrators and former administrators for failing to take action against Bishop, who was denied tenure before she killed departmental colleagues. University officials have said that Bishop, not administrators, is responsible for the tragedy.
Tufts University is attracting attention for one of its new essay prompts for undergraduate admissions, The Boston Globe reported. The prompt: "The ancient Romans started it when they coined the phrase 'Carpe diem.' Jonathan Larson proclaimed 'No day but today!' and most recently, Drake explained You Only Live Once (YOLO). Have you ever seized the day? Lived like there was no tomorrow? Or perhaps you plan to shout YOLO while jumping into something in the future. What does #YOLO mean to you?"
The University of Chicago is moving its Asian M.B.A. program from Singapore to Hong Kong, The Wall Street Journal reported. The move reflects the growing demand from people in China for M.B.A. programs, and a desire to be closer to China.
Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, will become the next president of the University of California System, The Los Angeles Times reported. The choice is unexpected because Napolitano, formerly governor of Arizona, is not an academic. But the Times reported that board members believe her Cabinet experience will help the system dealing with the federal government on many research issues.
In her current position, she has spoken about the importance of science and technology in promoting national interests. She published a Views piece in Inside Higher Ed in 2011 on this theme, adapted from a lecture she gave at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
At homeland security, she formed an academic advisory committee, created a website to help foreign students learn their options for enrolling in the United States and pushed for legislation to help "DREAM" students who were brought to the United States by their parents as children, without legal documentation.
College athletic programs lag behind professional teams in diverse hiring practices, and in some sports, are getting worse, according to a new “report card” released Wednesday by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. TIDES awarded college sports a “B” grade overall – same as last year -- noting that while colleges improved slightly on gender hiring practices (colleges scored 81.3 points on the report card scale, up from 80.7 last year), they also did slightly worse with racial hiring practices (scoring 81 points, down from 82.2). The report points specifically to Division I men’s basketball head coaches, 18.8 percent of whom are black, down 0.2 percent from last year and 6.6 percent from 2005-6. It also notes that the commissioners of all major Football Bowl Series conferences are white males, and 89 percent of athletics directors in all three divisions are white. Only 8.3 percent of Division I athletics directors are women, the report says.
Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican who is a key figure on nonprofit issues in Congress, is accusing New York University of stonewalling in an inquiry into the compensation the university provides, The New York Times reported. Grassley has been investigating bonuses and loans provided to top administrators and some faculty members. Grassley told The TImes that, over a series of meetings, NYU has delayed or declined to provide some information, and in particular the details of various loan arrangements. In one case, the university brought documents to Grassley's office for aides to see, but would not leave the records. An NYU trustee told The Times that it was unfair "to single out our faculty and our administration and staff." Grassley told the newspaper, “We’re getting stonewalled. We’re getting nowhere. We were promised cooperation and we’re not getting it.” In discussing the various delays in providing information, Grassley said that "the only conclusion I can come to is any information they’d give us would be very embarrassing to them."
In today’s Academic Minute, Geraldine Wright of Newcastle University reveals why bees get a kick out of caffeine. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
Students who spend a semester or year abroad show positive changes in their personality, according to a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Researchers at Germany’s Friedrich Schiller University Jena surveyed more than 1,100 students, including 527 who studied abroad and a control group of 607 who did not, on measures associated with the “Big Five” personality traits (agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, extraversion, and openness). They found significant differences between the two groups even after controlling for higher levels of extraversion, open-mindedness and conscientiousness exhibited by study abroad students before leaving home.
"Those who spent some time abroad profit in their personality development, for instance in terms of growing openness and emotional stability," Julia Zimmermann, the lead author, said in a press release. "Their development regarding these characteristics clearly differed from the control group even when initial personality differences were taken into account."