Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 13, 2013

Adjuncts and other part-time employees working for public colleges and universities in Washington State could have their health benefits threatened by pending legislation, The Seattle Times reported. Details are vague, which is part of why many are alarmed. And some view the legislation as a bargaining chip. But the budget bill would eliminate state-funded insurance for part-time employees of public schools and public higher ed. The part-time employees would receive an additional $2 an hour to buy coverage options created by the new federal health care law. Many say that most part-timers would end up either having to pay more themselves to maintain coverage or would lose some coverage. The legislation is notable because Washington State has historically provided more health insurance to adjuncts, who have organized around the issue, than has been the case in many other states.

 

June 13, 2013

The uproar over the "KUboobs" Twitter account is being called a "boobment." The account features photographs that women send in showing their cleavage with University of Kansas T-shirts and other KU accoutrements. Fans of other colleges and universities have started similar accounts. Rumors spread this week that the University of Kansas was trying to have the site -- with which it has no affiliation -- shut down. Online outrage followed, along with new hashtags such as #saveKUboobs and #IloveKUboobs. The university has denied trying to shut down the site, maintaining only that it was seeking to prevent the site's founders from selling merchandise that infringes on university trademarks for KU material. The dispute appears to have drawn more attention to the Twitter account, which now has more than 63,000 followers.

June 13, 2013

Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, was sharply critical of the for-profit sector during a hearing Wednesday of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. The hearing was on the U.S. Department of Defense's tuition assistance program for members of the U.S. military. Durbin, who has tangled with for-profits before, grilled Frederick Vollrath, the assistant secretary of defense for readiness and force management, over the Pentagon's oversight of the program. For-profits received half of the $660 million the federal government spent on military tuition assistance last year. Yet Durbin said only 200 department counselors are on hand to help the 200,000 military students who receive tuition assistance. And he said the department audits only 1 percent of participating colleges each year.

June 13, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Thomas Wartenberg of Mount Holyoke College reveals the philosophical thought that exists in children’s picture books. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

June 13, 2013

A new Romanian-based website aims to crack down on research misconduct worldwide -- by encouraging scholars to submit work that they think might be flawed and soliciting other academics to review the work, Times Higher Education reported. The site, integru.org, describes itself as an "international collaborative effort working to uphold academic integrity and ethical values," leaning on the expertise of scholars in various fields because there is no international authority to judge academic misconduct.

June 12, 2013

The faculty athletics representative at the University of Richmond has circulated an e-mail to colleagues calling for the institution to leave Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and to stop playing intercollegiate football, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. "I have come to the conclusion that it’s hard-to-impossible to consistently make DI-level sports conform and submit to the primary institutional focus on academics, because there’s just too much money and ambition involved," said  the e-mail from Rick Mayes, an associate professor of political science. Noting concerns about the impact of concussions on football players, he asked whether it would not be better -- for the sake of athletes and to prevent future lawsuits -- to drop football. University administrators indicated that Richmond has no intention of taking the advice Mayes offered.DI and DIII in quotes are sic per article -sj

June 12, 2013

The foundation of San Francisco State University has agreed to not invest in companies "with significant production or use of coal and tar sands." Further the foundation will seek to limit investments in fossil fuel companies. Advocates for divestment of fossil fuel companies said that they viewed the move as significant. To date, colleges that have embraced divestment have been small, private colleges in the Northeast, while San Francisco State is the first Western or public institution to take such a stand. The foundation's endowment is in the range of $50 million.

 

June 12, 2013
  • Lisa H. Conti, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and neuroscience at the University of Connecticut, has been appointed as assistant professor of medical sciences at Quinnipiac University, also in Connecticut.
  • Joe Diaz, an adjunct faculty member at Indiana Wesleyan University and Marian University, has been selected as director of corporate learning and operations at Harrison College.
  • Andrew Hermalyn, executive vice president for university relations at 2U, has been chosen as executive vice president and general manager of 2U's Semester Online.
  • Irene Scruton, executive director of the Safety Council of Central and Western New York, has been named MBA Director at the State University of New York at Oswego.
  • Michaele Whelan, vice provost for academic affairs at Brandeis University, in Massachusetts, has been named vice president for academic affairs and associate professor of writing, literature and publishing at Emerson College, also in Massachusetts.
  • Mel Williams Jr., associate deputy secretary of energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, has been appointed as senior associate dean for military and veterans initiatives at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C.

The appointments above are drawn from Inside Higher Ed's job changes database. To submit news about job changes and promotions, please click here.

June 12, 2013

A large majority of Americans -- 76 percent -- oppose the consideration of race in college admissions decisions, according to a new Washington Post-ABC poll, issued with the Supreme Court about to rule on the issue. Democrats were more likely than Republicans to favor the consideration of race, 28 percent to 12 percent. Among racial and ethnic groups, the highest level of support for consideration of race was by Hispanics (29 percent). By educational attainment, those with some postgraduate education were more likely than those with other levels to favor the consideration of race (28 percent).

 

June 12, 2013

The U.S. Department of Education plans this fall to begin a stand-alone round of negotiated rule making on "gainful employment" regulations, which would keep tabs on vocational programs at for-profit colleges and some nonprofit institutions. The department's plan to pursue a new set of regulations, not sure this is quite the right way to say it, since the previous regs aren't really reemerging. maybe "The department's plan to pursue a new set of regulations, given that a federal judge struck down the original version last year, is ..."***Yes. Fixed - PF given that a federal judge struck down the original version last year, is not a surprise. But in an announcement in the Federal Register this week, the Education Department said it planned to hold separate discussions on gainful employment this fall, rather than as part of a broader rule-making session that might also tackle fraud protection or state authorization of distance education.

The federal court ruled that the department had failed to adequately establish justification for the threshold it set for loan repayment rates. (The other standards dealt with debt-to-income ratios.) However, the judge said the department was on firm ground philosophically in its effort to regulate the return on investment of vocational programs. But the Obama administration appears to have chosen to take another run at crafting a new set of rules rather than trying to resuscitate the old ones in court. maybe "to take another run at crafting a new set of rules rather than trying to resuscitate the old ones in the courts."?***Changes made - PF

Gainful employment not sure how you're defining "first emerged," but by almost any measure this date is off. original rule making was in 2009 (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/12/10/employ), and it was fought out all through 2010. dl***Oops. Fixed with "long" tweak - PF was a long, bruising battle. For-profits and some Republican lawmakers had asked that a new debate over how to regulate vocational programs be folded into the renewal of the Higher Education Act, which is scheduled to expire this year. By pursuing a new round of rule making on gainful employment, the department appears to be continuing to focus primarily on for-profits maybe "By pursuing a new round of rule making over gainful employment, the Education Department appears to be continuing to focus primarily on for-profits,"?***done - pf, in contrast to proposed legislation that would scrutinize employment outcomes of higher education more broadly. The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, the sector's primary trade group, issued a written statement saying it was disappointed by the prospect of a "repeated, faulty and confrontational process" on gainful employment. The department will select members of the committee, which is slated to meet first in September.

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