The American Studies Crossroads Project, an early web pioneer that enabled instructors to share online teaching materials and stories of how they had used them, has been archived and closed -- made irrelevant, its founder says, by the "swiftly moving stream that is the Internet." Randy Bass, a professor of English and associate provost at Georgetown University, said that its core idea -- being "a single knowledge-building, field-forming virtual community" for scholars and teachers in American studies -- "no longer has a role in the distributed and ubiquitous environment of the Web."
Higher Education Quick Takes
California's community colleges have been ordered to focus on students who can earn degrees or certificates or who can transfer to four-year institutions, and to de-emphasize other programs. An article in The Los Angeles Times explores the impact of this directive on rural community colleges. At those institutions, the Times reported, the identity of the colleges is much more centered on long-term ties to community members and the colleges have played a much broader cultural and social role than those in urban areas. As a result, many are questioning the appropriateness of the new approach for such colleges.
Judson University, facing a deficit of $165,000, has laid off 21 staff members and announced that it will not renew the contracts of 11 faculty members, The Daily Herald reported. Officials of the Elgin, Ill., university said that there were not causes for serious concern, but that the employee total had perhaps grown too rapidly in recent years.
Advocates of international education are ringing alarm bells about a €90 million shortfall in the Erasmus budget. Erasmus, a European Union program, provides grants for students to study or work outside their home countries in one of 33 participating nations (the 27 member states of the European Union, plus Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey). More than 231,000 students received grants in 2010-11, with the average award being a modest €250 a month. The most popular destinations were Spain, France and Germany. (Note: This article has been updated to reflect the term of the award.)
European Commission officials warn that unless something changes, its debts to national agencies in the participating countries – which distribute the money to colleges and students -- will have to be paid out of next year’s budget. This means that either fewer students will be supported or smaller grants will be given. The €90 million shortfall is out of a total budget of €450 million.
“What we’re hoping is that before the end of the year, the 27 member states, and the European Parliament, will agree to make up the shortfall,” said Dennis Abbott, a European Commission spokesman for education. “We know it’s a very, very tough world out there and that many countries are having to cut back, but we just feel that they shouldn’t be cutting back on education and they shouldn’t be cutting back where commitments have been made.”
Many colleges and universities that have Nov. 1 deadlines for early decision, early action or other admissions requests have announced extensions or flexibility in light of the impact of Hurricane Sandy. The National Association for College Admission Counseling is publishing and updating a list of these institutions, with links to details on their new deadlines.
Green Mountain College has delayed a controversial plan to slaughter two oxen because local slaughterhouses have received threats from outside groups about actions that would be taken if they kill the animals, the Associated Press reported. The college prides itself on sustainability, and says that when one ox became unable to continue working, the right thing to do from an environmental perspective was to slaughter the oxen and to serve their meat in the dining hall. But animal rights groups and others have mounted online campaigns to save the oxen.
The National Student Clearinghouse is taking over management of the University of Texas at Austin's SPEEDE server, which more than 300 colleges use at no charge to process electronic transcripts and share student academic records, the two entities announced Wednesday. The clearinghouse quickly followed Thursday with another announcement making clear that it would continue to provide SPEEDE's services free, presumably in response to questions from many registrars and admissions officials about whether the much larger organization would seek to privatize, or at least monetize, its new operation. Also on Thursday, a corporate player in the e-transcript space, Parchment, announced its own collaboration to create a gateway for electronic academic records.
Graham Spanier, for years a leader in higher education as president of Pennsylvania State University, was indicted Thursday on charges of concealing information about suspected child abuse involving Jerry Sandusky, obstructing the criminal investigation of Sandusky, perjury before a grand jury and endangering the welfare of children. The charges came a year after the scandal involving Sandusky became public. While the former assistant football coach has been convicted of dozens of counts of sexual abuse of minors, Spanier is accused of failing to report Sandusky to authorities. "This is not a mistake, an oversight or a misjudgment. This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials at Penn State, working to actively conceal the truth, with total disregard to the suffering of children," said Linda Kelly, Pennsylvania's attorney general, in a statement.
Spanier was fired by Penn State shortly after the scandal broke and has been on sabbatical with the assumption he would soon return to a faculty role. The university announced Thursday that Spanier was being placed on leave, and that Penn State would have no further comment about the legal proceedings.
One of Spanier's lawyers released a statement defending the former president. "Graham Spanier has committed no crime and looks forward to the opportunity to clear his good name and well-earned national reputation for integrity. This presentment is a politically motivated frame-up of an innocent man. And if these charges ever come to trial, we will prove it."
India has a new minister in charge of higher education. M M Pallam Raju assumed control of the Ministry of Human Resources and Development on Wednesday. The former minister Kapil Sibal -- who remains in control of the telecommunications ministry -- is well-known internationally as an advocate for opening India to foreign universities. A bill that would regulate foreign branch campuses has been stalled in India’s Parliament for more than two years.