Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 14, 2013

The Central Intelligence Agency has for years denied that it had a file on Noam Chomsky, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor known both for his contributions to the field of linguistics and (perhaps of more interest to the CIA) his criticism of the U.S. government across many administrations. Now, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, documents have confirmed that the CIA did have a file on Chomsky, and that it may have been scrubbed. The details are in Foreign Policy.

 

August 14, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, William Marling of Case Western Reserve University explains the initial and continuing popularity of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 14, 2013

The rector (or board chair) of the College of William and Mary has sent a letter to leaders of public colleges and universities in Virginia warning that the state's lack of gay marriage has created "a substantial incentive for our gay and lesbian faculty and staff to leave the Commonwealth’s public universities and colleges," The Washington Post reported. Jeff Trammell sent the letter after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a ruling that paved the way for gay couples in states that recognize single-sex marriage to have the full federal tax advantages of marriage that heterosexual couples receive. Trammell noted that some state officials have been hostile even to awarding partner benefits to gay employees.

August 14, 2013

Growing consumer reluctance to pay rising tuition rates are threatening to drive up private colleges' tuition discount rates, limit net tuition revenue, and lower matriculation rates and enrollments in ways that could hurt their financial ratings, Standard & Poor's said in a report issued Tuesday. The report, which like most of S&P's reports is available only to subscribers, says that the pressure on institutions will come particularly in the most competitive markets; data in the report find tuition discount rates rising fastest in the Northeast (from 31 to 34 percent since 2008), but net tuition levels and matriculation rates fell most sharply in the West.

August 13, 2013

Whether American college students are in some sort of new era of hook-ups has been the subject of much media speculation and criticism. Research being released today by the University of Portland at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association suggests that while there is plenty of sex in college, it's not remotely new or even hitting record levels. Martin Monto, a sociology professor, and Anna Carey, a recent graduate, compared data from a national survey about sex on campus from 1988-1996 and from 2002-10. In the recent time period, being called a hook-up era by some, only 59 percent of students report having sex at least once a week, compared to 65 percent in the earlier period. On other measures as well, there are not signs of a more hyper-sexual environment today than in earlier periods.

 

August 13, 2013

The board of Oakland University, in Michigan, has authorized a $230,000 deferred compensation bonus to Gary Russi even though the former president didn't meet the specific criteria established for the payment, The Detroit Free Press reported. The funds were only to be paid if Russi served through June 30, 2014. He quit unexpectedly this year when the university fired his wife, the basketball coach at Oakland. The board chair said that the payment was appropriate, given Russi's contributions to the university. But the chair also said he didn't know about the provision requiring that Russi work until next year to qualify for the deferred compensation.

August 13, 2013

McGill University is facing scrutiny and criticism over an increased emphasis on diversity in medical school admissions, The Montreal Gazette reported. In the context of Quebec, diversity at McGill (historically an institution serving the English-speaking minority) in part means recruiting more Francophone students. In 2010, McGill eliminated the requirement that applicants take the Medical College Admission Test, which is not offered in French. Since then Francophone enrollment has increased from 31.6 to 37.5 percent. Some at the university, however, say that highly talented Anglo applicants are being rejected unfairly in the name of diversity. In Canada, the vast majority of medical students enroll in their home province, so this shift raises issues for Anglo students who are unlikely to be admitted to Quebec's Francophone medical schools.

 

 

August 13, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Jason Chan of Iowa State University explains the process that makes our memories vulnerable to the accumulation of errors. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 13, 2013

Purdue University at Calumet’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors alleges potential violations of shared governance in the planned layoffs of seven faculty members members last week, including six tenure-track professors. In a statement posted on its Facebook page Monday, Calumet AAUP President Marcus K. Rogers accuses the university of laying off the professors – which administrators blame on budget woes stemming from lower enrollments – while “actively hiring more administrators, increasing funding to the athletic program and hiring fitness assistants.”

Rogers also alleges that the layoffs “do not appear to have been conducted with the proper faculty input,” and urges university administrators to reconsider their decision.

In a statement to faculty issued Monday, Chancellor Thomas L. Keon said the faculty layoff notices were “regrettable but necessary,” and issued in in response to a $3 million campus revenue shortfall anticipated this fall, based on a 6 percent fall projected enrollment decline. As those layoffs -- including the professors’ would-be retirement funds -- only amount to $1 million, he said, other cuts to the university’s budget likely are forthcoming. “As I reported at the Town Hall meeting, I would be pleased to rescind any or all of the notices should we find that there are alternatives,” Keon said. “Additionally, the senior leadership team is committed to continue working with faculty and the Faculty Senate to explore other options.”

 

August 13, 2013

Capella University announced that the U.S. Department of Education has granted approval to two new, competency-based degree programs. The university's "FlexPath" online bachelor's of science in business and master of business administration degrees are so-called "direct assessment" tracks, which are not based on the credit hour standard. Students in the two programs can now access federal financial aid thanks to the department's green light. Southern New Hampshire's College for America is the only other institution to receive such approval, but Northern Arizona University is also seeking it. Regional accreditors have signed off on the direct assessment degrees at all three institutions.

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