Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:00am

Pope Benedict XVI used a speech to university professors in Madrid on Friday to denounce the pressures on higher education to focus on job skills as opposed to a broader education. "At times one has the idea that the mission of a university professor nowadays is exclusively that of forming competent and efficient professionals capable of satisfying the demand for labor at any given time. One also hears it said that the only thing that matters at the present moment is pure technical ability," he said. "This sort of utilitarian approach to education is in fact becoming more widespread, even at the university level, promoted especially by sectors outside the university. All the same, you who, like myself, have had an experience of the university, and now are members of the teaching staff, surely are looking for something more lofty and capable of embracing the full measure of what it is to be human. We know that when mere utility and pure pragmatism become the principal criteria, much is lost and the results can be tragic: from the abuses associated with a science which acknowledges no limits beyond itself, to the political totalitarianism which easily arises when one eliminates any higher reference than the mere calculus of power. The authentic idea of the university, on the other hand, is precisely what saves us from this reductionist and curtailed vision of humanity."

The full text of the address is available from Vatican Radio.

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:00am

McGill University has found a way to keep the tuition of its M.B.A. program at $29,500 -- a huge increase from the previous rate of $1,700 and a shift that had Quebec threatening to hold back funds from the university. McGill has said that the program does not depend on provincial funds and should be able to set rates comparable with top international programs. The Globe and Mail reported that by designating its program as one focused on international business, McGill has turned its M.B.A. into specialized program not covered by the province's standard tuition rules.

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Andreas Wilke of Clarkson University reveals the unexpected benefits depression brings to the decision making process. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Andreas Wilke of Clarkson University reveals the unexpected benefits depression brings to the decision making process. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of South Carolina has suspended its fraternity rush in the wake of a slew of drinking-related violations as students returned to campus last week, The State reported. A university administrator said it had taken the "unprecedented step" of suspending the selection process for all fraternities -- not just those at which the six incidents took place -- because the institution "will not tolerate activities that jeopardize the safety and health of students or foster a culture of disrespect for rules and regulations." No date has been set for resuming rush.

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:00am

Governor Rick Perry, the Texan whose entry has shaken up the race for the Republican presidential nomination, is continuing to question evolution. The Huffington Post has published videos of him in New Hampshire calling evolution "a theory that's out there," and a theory with "some gaps in it." Then on Thursday, after a supporter in South Carolina praised his remarks, he said, “Well, God is how we got here. God may have done it in the blink of the eye or he may have done it over this long period of time, I don't know. But I know how it got started."

Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor who is one of Perry's rivals for the nomination, then spoke out in defense of evolution, criticizing Perry's statements both on origins and on climate change (Perry doubts the science). On Twitter, Huntsman wrote: "To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy." And he told ABC that "When we take a position that isn't willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science has said about what is causing climate change and man's contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position."

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:00am

Central Michigan University administrators said late Sunday that the university would hold classes this morning despite the vote by its faculty union earlier in the day to strike. Leaders of Central Michigan's Faculty Association said university administrators had adopted a "take-it-or-leave-it" attitude in negotiations over renewing the contract for its 600-plus members, prompting them to file unfair labor practice charges. Campus officials said that they would seek a court's injunction this morning to bar what they called an "illegal work stoppage," and that students should report because fixed-term faculty members and graduate teaching assistants would "still hold classes as scheduled."

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:00am

The United States Department of Education has fined Washington State University $82,500 for improperly reporting two reported sex assaults, the Associated Press reported. The university is appealing the fine -- the result of an audit of crime reporting procedures -- but also says that it has improved its system since the inquiry. In one incident, a reported assault was recorded as a "domestic dispute" when it may have involved a rape. In the other, the university's police report of an alleged assault listed it as "unfounded" after the victim decided not to provide details, but the person who made that determination did not have the authority to do so.

Monday, August 22, 2011 - 3:00am

For the first time, students will pay more in total to attend the University of California in 2011-12 than the 10-campus system will receive in state funding, the Los Angeles Times reported. While this has been true for other public colleges and universities for some time, UC's historically low tuition and California's historically strong support for public higher education have kept these lines from crossing only now. But with California's budget in tatters, UC, like many public institutions, has raised tuitions to make up for the lost state funds. "When these things happen, how often do they reverse themselves?" the Times quoted Patrick Lenz, the university's vice president of budget and capital resources, as saying. "Never."

Friday, August 19, 2011 - 3:00am

A local judge has dismissed a conservative watchdog group's lawsuit challenging a Maryland community college's policy that lets recent graduates of the county's high schools pay lower tuition rates, even if they are not legal U.S. residents. The ruling in Montgomery County Circuit Court blocks Judicial Watch's lawsuit against Montgomery College; the lawsuit charged that "[b]y providing reduced, in-county tuition to all students who graduate from Montgomery County public high schools, regardless of their residence or status as unlawfully present aliens, Montgomery College is failing to collect revenue that, by state and federal law, it is required to collect." The court ruled that the three county residents who served as Judicial Watch's plaintiffs did not have standing to sue the college. A lawyer for the college, Michael Hays of Dow Lohnes, said that the college "believes that its tuition policy is fully consistent with all applicable laws and regulations."

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