Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 7, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Jason Kalirai, associate researcher at the Center for Astrophysical Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, discusses the deepest of deep space studies. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


July 3, 2014

Facing criticism that parts of its fight song lyrics are sexist, the University of Utah on Wednesday announced changes that will remove the implication that the perspective is a male one. The line “our coeds are the fairest” will be replaced with “our students are the finest” and the line “no other gang of college men” will now be “no rival band of college fans." A further complication is that the song has been called "A Utah Man." From now on it will be called "A Utah Man/Fan." The university, mindful that loyal alumni sometimes object to changes in tradition, created a webpage noting that the song has already changed many times in its history. And David Pershing, president of the university, issued a statement in which he said that the new lyrics were a suggestion, not mandatory. “When printed officially by the university, this 2014 version of the fight song will be used, but historical renditions of the song will always be acceptable," Pershing said. "We encourage you to sing – loudly and with pride – whichever version resonates with you.”


July 3, 2014

The Thomas M. Cooley Law School, the nation's largest, is getting smaller. Cooley has four campuses in Michigan and one in Florida. A statement on the Cooley website says -- without providing much detail -- that the law school is retrenching through, among other things, faculty and staff reductions. But Above the Law (and then others) reported on a memo (not on the public portion of the Cooley website) stating that it would not admit new students to its Ann Arbor campus this fall. Current students at the Ann Arbor campus will be able to continue there.


July 3, 2014

At least eight universities have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hillary Clinton to speak on their campuses, The Washington Post reported. Students at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, where she is due to be paid $225,000 to speak in the fall, have protested, and that is drawing attention to the likely presidential candidate's high fees, not all of which have been previously disclosed. Some of the payments ($200,000 is believed to be standard) have gone not to Clinton personally, but the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.



July 3, 2014

The senior Department of Education official overseeing the development of the Obama administration’s college ratings system confirmed on Wednesday that the department was on track to publish a draft proposal by this fall.

Another department official earlier this week had cast doubt on that timeline during remarks at a financial aid administrators’ conference, suggesting that it might not get done by the end of this year, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

But Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said Wednesday afternoon that the department was still on track to produce a draft ratings system later this year.

“We want to get something out -- a first draft -- for people to look at in the fall,” he told reporters. “I’m still operating on a rough draft for fall.”

July 3, 2014

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is helping fund a 10-member consortium of Pennsylvania liberal arts colleges as they try to cope with the troubles liberal arts colleges now face. Among the plans colleges have for the $800,000 grant: use teleconferences and the internet to combine low-enrollment classes; share study abroad sites; share staff; and work to reduce health, procurement and other costs. The colleges in the group are: Bryn Mawr College, Dickinson College, Franklin & Marshall College, Gettysburg College, Haverford College, Juniata College, Muhlenberg College, Swarthmore College, Ursinus College and Washington & Jefferson College.

July 3, 2014

Arizona State University announced Wednesday that it has placed Stewart Ferrin, the officer involved in stopping an African-American female professor who was jaywalking and then body-slamming her into the ground, on paid administrative leave. The university said that a "preliminary review" has found no evidence of racial profiling or excessive force -- both of which have been charged by Ersula Ore, the professor, and her supporters.

The Maricopa County Chapter of the National Action Network, a civil rights organization, announced Wednesday that it has received 11 complaints against Arizona State police officers since the start of 2014, The Arizona Republic reported. An Arizona State spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment about that number.


July 3, 2014

The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has added a dozen more colleges and universities to its growing list of institutions being investigated for their handling of sexual assault cases.

The additions bring the total number of colleges included on the list to 67.

In early May, the department took the unprecedented step of publicly naming 55 institutions that investigators are probing to see whether their approach to sexual assault and harassment complies with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which requires gender equity in education, including proper handling of sexual assault complaints.

“We are making this list available in an effort to bring more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights,” Catherine E. Lhamon, the assistant education secretary for civil rights, said in a written statement at the time. “We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue.”

The 12 colleges most recently added to the list are the University of Alaska, Berklee College of Music, Cisco Junior College, Colorado State University, the University of Delaware, Elmira College, James Madison University, Morgan State University, , Missouri University of Science and Technology, the University of Richmond, and Washburn University.

While the list does not contain specific details about the cases, all of the most recent additions are cases opened on or after May 5.

July 3, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Matt Taylor, assistant professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Washington State University, explains how he is teaching computers how to teach. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


July 2, 2014

The U.S. Department of Education failed to reach an agreement with Corinthian Colleges on how to sell or close its 107 campuses, the department said Wednesday. The two sides last month agreed to an initial plan, through which the feds released held financial aid payments to the cash-starved for-profit chain. Announcements of that deal said negotiators would finalize the phasing-out arrangements for Corinthian by July 1. The department said yesterday that the plan remained due by that date.

“While we did not reach an agreement yet with Corinthian officials, we are optimistic that further conversations with the company will produce an acceptable plan in the next few days that protects the interests of students and taxpayers,” said Ted Mitchell, the under secretary of education, in a written statement.

The company said in a statement it continues to work cooperatively with the department and that they expect to have an agreement completed in the next few days.

Mitchell told reporters Wednesday afternoon that there were “no immediate consequences” for missing the July 1 deadline.

“We extended the MOU under which we were operating with them,” he said. “We’re doing a day-by-day extension.”

(Note: this story has been updated to include additional remarks from Mitchell). 


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