Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 3, 2013

The American Association of University Professors on Tuesday issued a statement calling on colleges not to deal with new health-care requirements by cutting adjunct hours. A number of colleges have done so, seeking to keep adjuncts below the minimum levels at which employers are required to provide health coverage. The AAUP statement outlines what it considers to be fair ways to calculate adjunct work (stressing the planning and grading that takes place outside of class time). But regardless of how hours are calculated, the AAUP says that colleges should not respond to cost concerns by limiting adjunct hours.

"We have been dismayed by news reports of a handful of colleges and universities that have threatened to cut the courseloads of part-time faculty members specifically in order to evade this provision of the law," the statement said. "Such actions are reprehensible, penalizing part-time faculty members both by depriving them access to affordable health care as intended by law and by reducing their income."

April 3, 2013

A new working paper finds that economic conditions are a critical factor in determining whether foreign-born science and engineering Ph.D. students plan to remain in the United States after they graduate: students are most likely to stay if the U.S. has experienced strong gross domestic product growth in recent years or their home country has had weak growth. Students who come from countries that have recently democratized or have higher average income levels are less likely to remain in the U.S.

The study, based on an analysis of the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates data from 1960 to 2008, also found that foreign students who plan to stay in the U.S. have higher levels of academic ability, as determined by the educational attainment of their parents and their own success in earning fellowships and other sources of graduate funding. (An exception is those students who receive funding contingent upon their return to their home country; not surprisingly, these students are less likely to intend to stay in the U.S.)  

Foreign-born students made up 56 percent of all science and engineering Ph.D. recipients in the U.S. in 2007. The working paper is by Jeffrey Grogger and Gordon H. Hanson, of the Universities of Chicago and California at San Diego, respectively, and is available on the National Bureau of Economic Research website for $5. 

April 3, 2013

Harvard University secretly searched two e-mail accounts of a resident dean, not just one, as the university previously admitted, The Boston Globe reported. The university acknowledged the additional searching Tuesday in a meeting with faculty members. University officials said that their goal was to protect the confidentiality rights of students caught up in a cheating scandal. But the e-mail searches have angered many faculty members. Drew Faust, the president, announced that she has asked a lawyer to study the full extent of the e-mail searches, and that she is creating a committee to develop recommendations about the issue of e-mail privacy.

 

April 3, 2013

Following more than a month of resounding protest from students, faculty and staff, the sponsor and planned namesake for Florida Atlantic University’s new football stadium has withdrawn, FAU announced Tuesday, leaving the university to find a replacement for the private prison company GEO Group (the GEO Group Foundation was the official donor) and the $6 million its founder had pledged toward the project. Protesters had criticized the management and inmate and employee treatment at prisons run by GEO, whose chairman is a Florida Atlantic graduate and former trustee.

FAU is technically out nothing yet in terms of dollars, Athletics Director Pat Chun said in an interview Tuesday. But as the university looks at its budget for next year, which it’s in the process of setting, there’s a hole where $500,000 should have been accounted for. (This would have been the first of 12 payments. About half of the $75 million stadium was financed with debt and in need of repayment.) Asked how long until the change in plans causes a serious financial problem, Chun said, “We’re probably there now,” but said the university will go "back to square one" to get it taken care of.

GEO’s withdrawal does have a financial benefit for the university’s academic side, however; officials said the company the company, or the founder? *** all I've seen says it's the company but the CEO is the one commenting about it. George Zoley. will donate $500,000 toward scholarships, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

April 3, 2013

The Rev. Lawrence Biondi, unpopular with students and faculty members at Saint Louis University, where he is president, has vowed to ease tensions. But a survey on the campus mood is causing more tension before the results are even tabulated. Faculty leaders complained that the survey features only one question about the president and generally refers to "the university," making it difficult for those answering to note their frustrations, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors then announced a plan to redistribute the plan, substituting "the president" for "the university" where such wording might be helpful to understanding campus climate. The university's response was to send a lawyer to the AAUP threatening a copyright suit for using the survey with those wording changes.

 

April 3, 2013

A new survey has found that 17 percent of college athletes in Division I responded to survey questions in ways consistent with depression. Only 8 percent of former Division I athletes had the same scores on the survey. The researchers said that when they started their project, they assumed they would find higher levels of depression in the former athletes than the current ones. The findings were published in the journal Sports Health.

April 3, 2013

The White Student Union, an unofficial, small group at Towson University, has been capturing headlines recently with claims (untrue, the university says) of a surge in crime against white students. In response, about 200 students marched through the campus Tuesday in an event designed to show that the views of the White Student Union do not represent the student body or the university, The Baltimore Sun reported.

 

April 3, 2013

President Clinton and Washington University in St. Louis Chancellor Mark Wrighton on Tuesday outlined plans for the Clinton Global Initiative University 2013 meeting, which will be held this month at the university, attracting a large group of student leaders.

While the event will feature discussion on numerous issues, Clinton discussed several higher education issues in the call Tuesday, expressing concerns about debt levels. “We can’t continue to see the cost of education go up … every decade … when wages are flat,” he said. “The student loan reform [passed in 2010] will help, but a lot of people have student debt that goes beyond the federal student loan program… I think the only sustainable answer is to find a less expensive delivery system.” The answer, Clinton said, may be online education, but “the next big step in this whole deal is for someone to certify what you need to know and then figure out some way of validating the merits of these on line courses.”

Prescription drug abuse, Clinton said, was a particular problem at colleges and universities. “Every institution of higher education should make sure that 100 percent of students understand that you can’t mix prescription pills with alcohol… It’s important that this message [also] go out to students in high schools [and] working people,” he said. “All these young people in their 20s and 30s [are] dying because of these abuses that would be very easily corrected.”

Gendered violence, Clinton said, was an issue that generated substantial interest from university and college students, both from a broader, global-justice based perspective or on a personal level. “It’s a huge problem around the world; the subjugation of women and girls as opposed to the education and empowerment of women and girls is one of the choices the world has to make,” Clinton said. “The students are very interested, particularly if they can figure out some way they can make a difference, even if it’s just sending $5 to the right organization.”

 

April 3, 2013

The Department of Homeland Security has selected seven colleges for a "Campus Resilience Pilot Program," designed to explore new ways to help colleges prevent emergencies and respond to those that occur. The colleges are:

  • Drexel University.
  • Eastern Connecticut State University.
  • Green River Community College.
  • Navajo Technical College.
  • Texas A&M University.
  • Tougaloo College.
  • University of San Francisco.
April 3, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Kelly Benoit-Bird of Oregon State University explains why safety marine prey species do not always find safety in numbers. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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