Oxford University Press issued a statement Thursday affirming that it had not killed the "Oxford comma" (also called a serial comma), which appears before "and" in a series. Twitter and the blogosphere have been full of outrage over the reported elimination of the comma. As the Associated Press explained, the false reports were based on a style guide produced by the University of Oxford public relations office for press releases. For those following the Oxford University Press style, the comma lives on.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Baltimore International College officials said the institution would explore a merger that might allow it to survive the stripping of its accreditation in June by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The revocation of accreditation for the culinary college was one of many negative actions that the regional accrediting agency imposed at its meeting last month, which added four colleges (Baltimore City Community College, Caribbean University, Luzerne County Community College,and Richmond, the American International University in London) to its rolls of institutions on probation and issued warnings to nine other colleges, listed below. Most of the institutions that Middle States placed on probation or warned were cited for their failure to provide evidence that they were assessing their own institutional effectiveness or the extent of student learning.
- Columbia-Greene Community College
- Erie Community College
- Essex County College, NJ
- Institute of World Politics
- Kean University
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
- SUNY College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill
- Union Theological Seminary, NY
- Washington Theological Union, DC
Four colleges (all campuses of the University of Puerto Rico) were continued on probation, while seven other branches of the Puerto Rican university were removed from probation.
The American Association of Community Colleges on Thursday appointed a 36-member commission to take "a holistic look" at the mission of and challenges facing community colleges. Most of the commission members are current community college presidents, but the group also includes such experts on community colleges as Vincent Tinto, Distinguished University Professor at Syracuse University and Mark David Milliron, deputy director for postsecondary improvement at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and university system chancellors such as William Kirwan of the University System of Maryland and Nancy Zimpher of the State University of New York.
The Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science released a statement Wednesday about the way some climate scientists have been treated. "We are deeply concerned by the extent and nature of personal attacks on climate scientists," the statement said. "Reports of harassment, death threats, and legal challenges have created a hostile environment that inhibits the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas and makes it difficult for factual information and scientific analyses to reach policymakers and the public."
While some of the legal attacks have involved extensive records requests of scientists at public universities, the AAAS statement says that these inquiries go beyond legitimate requests for information. "The sharing of research data is vastly different from unreasonable, excessive Freedom of Information Act requests for personal information and voluminous data that are then used to harass and
intimidate scientists. The latter serve only as a distraction and make no constructive contribution to the public discourse," the statement says.
A new report from a higher education think tank calls on state policymakers to rein in the rising cost of community colleges by limiting tuition increases and finding ways to streamline the process of transferring to four-year universities.
The report, from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, focuses on community colleges because the think tank believes they are a crucial part of the plans to increase the number of college graduates nationwide in the next decade.
“The way we’re going to increase completion of baccalaureate degrees, in the biggest and fastest-growing states, is by (increasing) the number of students who start in community colleges and transfer,” said Pat Callan, director of NCPPHE.
That’s unlikely, says Callan, since tuition at public two-year institutions has skyrocketed since 1999, far outpacing the median family income in every state, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics cited in the report.
Callan says states need to re-think their approach to funding and tuition at public two-year institutions. Turning it around would mean adopting policies that tie tuition increases to median family income, rewarding colleges that cut costs without increasing cost of attendance, and allowing steady tuition growth during good economic years, he says.
“No state has an effective tuition policy,” he said. “Most of them are doing it exactly the wrong way.”
The report also praises efforts in some states to make the transition from two- to four-year institutions easier, including adopting common course numbers and an agreed-upon core curriculum. These measures could save students money by saving them from having to re-take courses after they’ve transferred.
But Callan says rising cost of attendance is the most important issue moving forward.
“Most of these aren’t going to be very effective unless we deal with this affordability issue,” he said.
The University of New Hampshire cannot fire Edward Larkin as a German professor, even though he was convicted of indecent exposure for showing his genitals to a woman and her 17-year-old daughter in 2009, an arbitrator has ruled, according to WMUR 9 News. The arbitrator ruled that while Larkin's conduct constituted "moral delinquency," it was not "moral delinquency of a grave order," the standard needed for dismissal.
In today's Academic Minute, Catherine Snyder of Union Graduate College explains how brain function changes with age. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.
These meetings, conferences, seminars and other events will be held in the coming weeks in and around higher education. They are among the many such that appear in our calendar on The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education. This listing will appear as a regular feature in this space.
To submit a listing, click here.
Two blind students — backed by the National Federation of the Blind -- on Wednesday sued Florida State University over the use of technology that they maintain denies equal access to the blind. The suit mentions mathematics courses in which the students allege the university required the students to use an inaccessible Web-based application to complete homework and exams, and required the use of clickers that cannot be used by a blind person to respond to in-class questions and obtain bonus credit. The suit is the latest in a series by blind students over educational technology tools.