Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 13, 2012

David Geffen, the entertainment executive and philanthropist, has donated $100 million to the University of California at Los Angeles for scholarships for medical students. UCLA's medical school was named for Geffen in 2002 after he donated $200 million to support it. The new gift is designed to cover all medical school expenses for top students, allowing them to graduate debt-free.

 

December 13, 2012

Relatively few American families used tax-favored education accounts to save money for college, and those who did disproportionately had higher incomes, the Government Accountability Office said in a report issued Wednesday. The GAO report found that just 3 percent of families had funds in 529 or Coverdell Education Savings Accounts in 2010.

December 13, 2012

Sudan is seeing major student protests this week in the wake of the deaths of four students at Gezira University who participated in a protest over tuition rates, AFP reported. Protest organizers said that the four students were among participants in a peaceful protest that was disrupted by a pro-government student group. University officials said that the students drowned.

 

December 13, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Stephanie Pfirman of Columbia University explains the importance of the geographic area destined to be the last refuge for year-round Arctic sea ice. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

December 13, 2012

California Competes, a group led by U.S. Department of Education veteran Robert Shireman, on Wednesday filed a legal challenge to the shared governance structure of California's community college system. In a filing with the system's Board of Governors, the group seeks to overturn what it asserts are veto powers for local academic senates. The resulting "tangled bureaucracy" has contributed to accreditation crises in the system, the group said, most notably at the City College of San Francisco. Faculty leaders, however, have said that the system's governance structure functions properly and that governing boards have the power to act.

December 12, 2012

The board of Morgan State University announced Tuesday that it had decided not to renew the contract of President David Wilson, meaning that he will leave office in June, after three years in the position. The official announcement gave no reason for the decision. The Baltimore Sun reported that the university's board was divided on the issue, and made the decision last week in a "heated" meeting. Recent months have seen two shootings on the campus, and the indictment of a professor for obtaining grants fraudulently, but the Sun quoted sources as saying those incidents were not behind the ouster. The Sun quoted from a letter Wilson sent to the campus in which he suggested he was being punished because he had been considered for another job (even though he withdrew from contention).

Marybeth Gasman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who studies historically black colleges such as Morgan State, wrote a column for The Washington Post questioning the way the university's board decided to end Wilson's presidency. "Wilson is an exceptional leader," she wrote. "When I look across the landscape of university presidents for an example of an individual who is ethical, personable, forward-thinking, brave, data driven, charismatic, scholarly and committed to student-centered education, I think of Wilson."

 

December 12, 2012

Carolane Williams has been "separated" from her position as president of Baltimore City Community College, the two-year-college's board announced Tuesday, The Baltimore Sun reported. Faculty members voted no confidence in Williams two years ago, and reports have criticized graduation rates at the college. In September, Governor Martin O'Malley, a Maryland Democrat, named five new members of the college's board. "The board strongly believes that the time is right for a leader who will bring new urgency to our urban educational mission," said a statement from the board chair, Rosemary Gillett-Karam.

 

December 12, 2012

Many public universities have created honors colleges with smaller classes and special privileges for students. Many other public universities shower non-need-based aid on top students. An article in The New York Times looks at how the University of Oklahoma has emphasized those strategies, creating an educational experience for top students (many of them National Merit Scholars) that is decidedly different than that of most other students at the university.

 

December 12, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Jeff Lane of the University of Alberta reveals how shifting weather patterns are disrupting the lifecycle of hibernating mammals. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

December 12, 2012

The disproportionately low employment of minority coaches has long been documented and discussed. A new study focusing on one of the most visible college sports proposes that in top-tier football programs, where nearly half of all athletes are black but only about 10 percent of coaches are, “race is important in channeling, but not necessarily racism.” The disparity is in part due, the study argues, to black and white athletes playing different positions, some of which are more likely to lead to assistant coaching positions, some of which in turn are more likely to lead to head coaching jobs.

The University of Georgia researchers, in an article to be published in Social Science Quarterly, found that quarterbacks, linebackers and tight ends – all positions disproportionately occupied by white players – are more likely to have obtained head coaching positions. Similarly, offensive and defensive coordinators -- the assistant coaching positions that transition most directly to head coaching jobs – are disproportionately occupied by white men. The researchers also note that while 6 percent of white coaches never played football in college, that was not true of any black coaches in the study.

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