Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 6, 2013

The University of Salford, in England, has announced plans to eliminate its School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences, Times Higher Education reported. The university plans to cease recruiting students for all courses in modern languages and linguistics and politics and contemporary history – with the exception of postgraduate programs in security studies – after this year, leading to the eventual closure of the school. The university has pledged that all students currently enrolled and those who are entering this fall will be able to complete their programs.

A Salford spokesman told Times Higher Education that the “changes are as a result of changing demand within higher education and from employers. We are continuing to recruit strongly in our key areas of strength such as media, technology, science, engineering and health, but other areas are showing low levels of interest from applicants."

“The university remains strong and financially healthy with a projected surplus for this year, and these changes are about ensuring that we can use our resources to benefit students in areas that are in demand with employers," the spokesman said.

June 6, 2013

After three separate criminal incidents involving students from Saudi Arabia, Missouri State University is considering adding a police presentation to its international student orientation, The Springfield News-Leader reported. Two Saudi students at Missouri State are charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman this weekend and are being held on $1 million bond. In March, another Saudi student at the university was charged with domestic assault; in January, one was sentenced to 120 days in jail and four years' probation after hitting a pedestrian with his car.

“We are looking at whether there is something we can be doing to help prevent these instances,” Stephen Robinette, Missouri State’s associate vice president for international programs, told the newspaper. Robinette described all three incidents as serious but random, noting, “It is not just associated with Saudi students.”

Missouri State has experienced a rapid growth in its numbers of international students in recent years. According to the News-Leader, there were 1,426 international students enrolled in the fall. More than half these students (805) were Chinese; 244 students from Saudi Arabia made up the second-largest group. 

June 6, 2013

Inside Higher Ed's Cartoon Caption Contest sprouts a new cartoon, new finalists and a new winner in June.

To submit your captions for June's cartoon, please click here. The three entries deemed most clever and creative by our experts' panel will be put to a vote by our readers, and the winner will receive a $75 Amazon gift certificate and a copy of the cartoon signed by Matthew Henry Hall, the artist.

Click here to vote on the three captions nominated as finalists for our May cartoon.

And congratulations to the winner of the Cartoon Caption Contest for April, Therese Kattner. Find out more about her and her submission here.

 

June 6, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Sara Konrath of the University of Michigan explores the relationship between age and the ability to feel empathy for others. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

June 6, 2013

Instructure, the maker of the Canvas learning management system, raised $30 million in venture capital to help fuel its competition against Blackboard, Desire2Learn and other more established players, the company said this week. Bessemer Venture Partners put up $26 million and existing investors put in another $4 million.

“We plan to use it for growth. We still think there is a great opportunity in this market to take market share,” said Brian Whitmer, an Instructure co-founder. Right now, he said the five-year-old company has about 5 percent of the LMS market.

Whitmer said the company would hire sales, development and support staff. It may also buy other startups. “We may use some of it for acquisitions," he said.

Another goal, of course, is to eventually take the company public. Bessemer's Silicon Valley partner Byron Deeter will join the Instructure board.

June 5, 2013

The Connecticut General Assembly has given final approval to a plan to two major spending initiatives for the University of Connecticut. One part would provide $1.5 billion for construction of facilities, including laboratories, equipment and housing. A second part would provide $137 million to hire additional faculty members so that enrollment can be increased in science and technology fields.

 

June 5, 2013

Queen's University in Canada is apologizing for having asked a student to remove his underwear art from an exhibit to be presented to donors, The Toronto Star reported. David Woodward, the student, was among those asked to participate, but organizers asked him to take down his art when they saw it. The work he was to have presented, "All I Am Is What I've Felt," consists of images and words written on white men's briefs. He said that he considers the work to be about gender, sexuality and intimacy. The underwear art (tame in comparison to student art that has caused controversy elsewhere) may be viewed here.

June 5, 2013

Coalitions of librarians and colleges and universities filed friend of the court briefs Tuesday supporting the HathiTrust in a lawsuit in which authors' groups charge that the digital repository is violating their copyright in making some of their works freely available. The briefs were filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which is considering an appeal of a federal judge's ruling last October that sided overwhelmingly with the trust and the universities (Michigan, California and Wisconsin, and Indiana) that created it. In their brief urging the Second Circuit to uphold the lower court, the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries argue that a ruling for the Authors' Guild and the others challenging the HathiTrust would "prevent libraries from performing some of their most basic functions, from film preservation to Internet access." And the brief filed by the American Council on Education, several other major groups of college presidents, and Educause vigorously defends the doctrine of "fair use" that they say the plaintiffs challenging HathiTrust would undermine.

The Authors Guild is scheduled to reply to these briefs within a month.

June 5, 2013

An explosion took place just before noon Tuesday at a building at Nyack College's Rockland County campus. College officials said that five employees and two students were in the building at the time. While there were injuries, there were no fatalities. Authorities are trying to determine the cause of the explosion.

June 5, 2013

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday says that Lone Star College's system for electing its Board of Trustees discriminates against minority citizens, The Houston Chronicle reported. Lone Star has at-large elections where the entire community college district's area is used to elect all board members for the community college system. The suit argues that no Hispanic trustees and very few black trustees have ever been elected, even though 30 percent of the district population is Latino and 16 percent is black. Subdividing the system district into areas would probably result in a more diverse board, the suit says. Lone Star officials said that they had not been formally served with papers, and could not comment on the suit.

 

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