Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 2, 2013

The tendency of black students to enroll in urban and less-selective public universities and the fact that they attend high schools of lesser quality contribute to their lower graduation rates in college -- but the "primary driver" of the black-white graduation gap is a difference in "pre-entry" traits such as ACT scores and high school class rank, according to a study published Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Though the study (abstract available here) is based on data from Missouri, the researchers suggest that the findings could apply nationally, although they cite several limitations, including that the data are derived only from public four-year universities in the state.

July 2, 2013

The American Association of University Professors on Monday issued a statement expressing concern about the recent decision of the University of Colorado Board of Regents to conduct a survey of the political climate at the Boulder campus. Regents said that they were concerned about liberal bias. The AAUP statement questioned whether the regents should be voicing views on the overall climate before having conducted a survey. And the AAUP statement noted that faculties are hardly as uniform as some critics suggest.

"To be sure, in some disciplines in the humanities, for instance, most faculty may consider themselves moderate to liberal," said the statement. "But in other disciplines, for instance, business, economics, or engineering, faculty views tend to be much more conservative. Political litmus tests, whether utilized in individual hiring decisions or in assessments of entire faculties or campus climates, are clear violations of the principles of academic freedom." The statement stressed that the results of the survey should not be used to influence faculty hiring or to impose political litmus tests.

 

July 2, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Anders Hakansson of the State University of New York at Buffalo reveals how a substance found in breast milk could turn the tide on drug-resistant superbugs. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

July 2, 2013

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, to which campus and other officials can submit their own events. Our site also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education; please submit your news to both listings.

July 2, 2013

A letter from deans at Howard University decries "financial mismanagement" at the institution, including the use of "inaccurate, misleading data" to make decisions on cuts, The Washington Post reported. The deans blame Robert M. Tarola, an independent contractor is senior vice president for administration, chief financial officer and treasurer, and questioned the "fiscal direction" in which he is leading Howard. "We believe this direction places the very survival of the university at risk,” the deans wrote in the letter addressed to Howard trustees. University officials defended Tarola, and said that he has helped improve the university's financial condition.

 

July 2, 2013

An analysis by USA Today has found 265 colleges at which the odds of students defaulting on their loans are greater than the odds of freshmen graduating. Nearly half of the colleges are for-profit institutions, and about one-third are community colleges. However, smaller shares of the students at community colleges borrow, and their loans are smaller, than at for-profit institutions.

 

July 2, 2013

A Stanford University alumnus with a history of major donations has given the university its largest gift ever, Stanford announced Monday. John Arrillaga's $151 million donation will support "a variety of university projects," Stanford said. Arrillaga is a real estate developer in Silicon Valley.

 

 

July 1, 2013

City Colleges of Chicago has announced a strategic plan that aims to boost its graduation rate from 12 percent to more than 20 percent by 2018. The two-year system has also set a goal of increasing the number of degrees it issues each year by almost 40 percent. And it seeks for more than half of graduating students to transfer to four-year institutions. Cheryl L. Hyman, the system's chancellor, has promised to make improving student completion a priority. Graduation rates stood at 7 percent before her arrival in 2010.

July 1, 2013

A New Jersey judge has refused to dismiss a suit by residents of Princeton, N.J., challenging the tax-exempt status of much property at Princeton University, The Times of Trenton reported. Like challenges to the tax-exempt status of college and university facilities elsewhere, the suit argues that some facilities are used for purposes removed from Princeton's educational missions. But the novel argument (disputed by the university) in the suit is that because of Princeton's extensive activities with patent royalty income -- and the sharing of that income with faculty members -- Princeton has become a commercial enterprise, and thus should pay taxes.

July 1, 2013

St. Augustine's University announced Friday that it has reassigned two employees, both convicted murderers who have been working on a summer camp run by the university, the Associated Press reported. One of the employees was convicted of murder in 1981 and the other in 2003. The university said that there have been no complaints about their performance. ABC News, however, quoted local parents as saying that they would want to know if employees of a program involving children had been convicted in murders.

 

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