Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - 3:00am

Just a week after its women’s basketball players were crowned at the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, Baylor University could be bracing for bad news from the NCAA. ESPN.com reported Monday that an investigation has found more than 1,200 instances of impermissible recruiting contacts on the part of Baylor’s men’s and women’s basketball coaches. The university has reportedly already self-imposed a number of sanctions, including scholarship reductions and recruiting limitations for both teams. The NCAA could impose additional sanctions when its infractions report is made public as early as this week, ESPN wrote.

Over a 29-month period, Baylor’s basketball programs reportedly sent recruits 738 impermissible text messages and made 528 impermissible phone calls, most of which came from the men’s staff in 2007 and 2008. But the investigation also uncovered 405 impermissible calls and texts made across nine different sports during 2011. Both the university and its men's basketball coach, Scott Drew, face major violations charges of "failure to monitor" the sports programs, ESPN wrote.

Baylor's men's basketball team made it to the championship quarterfinals this year, and its football team boasted the Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement Monday that the association “can’t get into details” regarding the case because it is still under review. “However,” he continued, “each member agrees to abide by the rules established by the association and our membership expects those who do not follow the rules will be held accountable.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - 4:30am

Students at Guilford College are pushing for a fee increase ($100 over two years) at a time when many college students are objecting to such increases. The News-Record reported that students want the increase to increase the student aid budget. The move comes as Guilford (along with other private colleges in North Carolina) face a loss of state funds for aid for North Carolina students. The college's board will vote on the proposal in June. Kent Chabotar, president of the college, said that he was surprised by the proposal. "The last thing you’d think would be that they’d want to increase the fees even more on their own authority." But he added that push to help fellow students was "a classic Guilford move."

 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - 3:00am

The National Labor College, facing financial difficulties, has decided to sell its entire campus (located in the Washington suburbs), but officials insist that the institution has a viable future. The college -- the academic arm of the labor movement -- offers degree and certificate programs for leaders and future leaders of unions. Most programs are distance, but involve residencies, which have taken place on the campus. Paula Peinovich, the president, said in an interview that the decision was a "very hard" one. "The sale of the property is not something that the board of the college has chosen to do lightly," she added. "But faced with financial issues, the board is going to focus on the college." She said that the property will need to be rezoned to be sold to a developer, and that the process means that the college isn't relocating immediately. Eventually, she said that the residency portions of the college's programs would take place at union facilities or academic centers around the country.

The campus also includes a conference center, which will be sold, and the AFL-CIO archives, which are used by scholars of labor history. Peinovich said that the AFL-CIO owns the archives, and that the college is in discussion with the AFL-CIO about where the collections will go.

The National Labor College had thought it would gain a secure financial partnership through a partnership with the Princeton Review (a partnership some in academic labor questioned because of the concerns of many faculty members in the union movement about for-profit higher education). But the Princeton Review pulled out of that partnership in November.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - 3:00am

State spending on higher education increased by $10.5 billion in absolute terms from 1990 to 2010, but considering changes in enrollments and inflation, funding per public full-time equivalent student dropped by 26.1 percent from 1990-1991 to 2009-2010, according to a report released Monday by the think tank Demos. During the same period, the report documents, tuition at public institution has seen large increases in many states. While many of those states have also increased aid budgets, a large share of those funds has gone to programs that are not based on financial need. The report notes that household income has not generally increased to match the tuition increases, and that the volume of outstanding student debt has grown by a factor of 4.5 since 1999.

Monday, April 9, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Thomas Park of the University of Illinois at Chicago explains the hardy nature of the naked mole-rat and how an understanding of the odd creature could improve medical outcomes in humans. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Monday, April 9, 2012 - 3:00am

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has issued guidelines to help countries promote open access to research findings. While the guidelines are not binding on member nations, they suggest that countries take a consistent and broad approach to assuring free access to research findings. The report with the guidelines also rejects the idea that because partial access is available or even full access to some work in some countries, that these issues have been resolved. "There is a problem of accessibility to scientific information everywhere," the report says. "Levels of open access vary by discipline, and some disciplines lag behind considerably, making the effort to achieve open access even more urgent. Access problems are accentuated in developing, emerging and transition countries. There are some schemes to alleviate access problems in the poorest countries but although these provide access, they do not provide open access: they are not permanent, they provide access only to a proportion of the literature, and they do not make the literature open to all but only to specific institutions."

 

Monday, April 9, 2012 - 3:00am

Chicago State University on Friday dropped a controversial policy that required faculty members to have prior approval before talking to the press, engaging in social media or engaging in most forms of public communication, The Chicago Tribune reported. The policy -- viewed by faculty members as inappropriate and illegal -- was abandoned after the Tribune reported on it. An e-mail message sent to faculty members by the university said that the policy "had not received proper review and approval through legal counsel prior to being distributed," and so was being pulled.

 

 

Monday, April 9, 2012 - 3:00am

The law school of the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa is well respected, but generally isn't seen in the same league as some elite private law schools in places like Cambridge and New Haven. So how is it, the Associated Press asked, that every sitting Supreme Court justice has either already visited to give a talk or has agreed to do so? Based on interviews and open records requests, the AP reported that Alabama is very resourceful at identifying people to lobby on its behalf, and identifying the right kind of honoraria offers (which are typically paid to charities favored by the individual justices). Unique Alabama experiences are also part of the effort. Justice Anthony Kennedy had heard about a rib place he wanted to visit, and that was part of his trip. Justice Clarence Thomas, a big sports fan, attended an Alabama football game. And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg received an autographed copy of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Monday, April 9, 2012 - 3:00am

The Cornish College of Arts announced Friday that it was withdrawing invitations to Mike Daisey to give the commencement address and receive an honorary degree, The Seattle Times reported. Daisey, a playwright, has admitted that parts of his play about Steve Jobs, as performed on "This American Life," were inaccurate. Nancy Uscher, president of the college, issued a statement explaining the decision. "Mr. Daisey has acknowledged that he personally did not witness all the events that he said he did, and he exaggerated the level of his own experiences to journalists," she said. "Since its founding by Nellie Cornish in 1914, Cornish College of the Arts has educated and prepared students to contribute to society as artists, citizens, and innovators. One essential principle of that education is the importance of professional integrity. Because of that foundational value, Cornish will not award an honorary degree to Mr. Daisey. Cornish and Mr. Daisey have mutually agreed he will withdraw from commencement."

Monday, April 9, 2012 - 3:00am

A government report suggests that many Indian universities have enough room on their campuses to double enrollments in the next five years, Mint reported. "The 43 central universities, except a few like Delhi University, are functioning with disproportionately low student enrollment compared to the campus area," the report said. "A 100 percent increase in intake is feasible in 30 of these university campuses." The report suggests that a new measure of university efficiency be students-per-acre of campus.

Deepak Pental, a former vice-chancellor of the University of Delhi, called the proposal "ridiculous," adding that "authorities should not equate number with quality, though we understand that a service economy needs to get enough human capital to sustain the growth rate."

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