Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 9, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Denise Dearing, a professor of biology at the University of Utah, explains her research on pikas -- rabbit-like mammals -- as a way to study the impact of climate change. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


July 8, 2014

Francisco Cigarroa, chancellor of the University of Texas System, released a statement late Monday outlining why he told Bill Powers, president of the flagship Austin campus, that he must resign promptly or be fired, The Texas Tribune reported. "The relationship between President Bill Powers, the Board of Regents and the Office of the Chancellor has been strained to the point of becoming fractured for several years," Cigarroa said.

More on the UT Situation

With a showdown pending in
Texas later this week, we'll
discuss the Bill Powers situation
on This Week @ Inside Higher
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Cigarroa did not attribute the break to any one single issue, but to "a breakdown of communication, collegiality, trust and a willingness to work together for the good of the university." He said "nothing could be further from the truth" than the view of many Powers supporters that the chancellor has acted on the direction of the governor or a few regents close to the governor.

With Powers resisting the demand that he resign soon, offering instead to do so after the next academic year, the issue now goes to the university's Board of Regents, which meets Thursday.

Faculty, alumni and student leaders -- along with many legislators -- have expressed outrage against the move to oust Powers, saying that he has done an excellent job leading the university.


July 8, 2014

The federal government’s annual list of the most expensive colleges in the country, released last week, incorrectly reported that Hult International Business School had the highest net price of any four-year private institution, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

A school official told the publication that Hult had erred in reporting its data to the government, incorrectly listing some graduate and international undergraduate tuition rates on a form where it was supposed to report such information for U.S. undergraduate students.

The school said that it did not enroll any undergraduates in the U.S. during the 2011-12 year that the list was supposed to cover.

A department spokesperson declined to comment on the matter, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. A spokeswoman did not immediately return an email from Inside Higher Ed on Monday evening.

July 8, 2014

Collective enrollments in American journalism schools and programs dropped in 2012 for the second straight year, the American Journalism Review reported. The article, which is based on an annual survey of journalism programs conducted by the University of Georgia, said that enrollment in the 485 participating journalism and mass communication programs fell by 2.9 percent in 2012 after a smaller drop, of 1.1 percent, the year before. Those dips followed several years of increases, which some observers saw as defying the headlines of an industry in disarray.

The study and the article note that the recent drops came at a time of enrollment increases for colleges and universities generally, and speculate that “the recent declines may have been triggered by negative publicity about layoffs in the news industry."

July 8, 2014

An American professor turned back at the Beijing airport despite having a valid tourist visa said he believes he’s being punished for his support of Ilham Tohti, an ethnic Uighur and economics professor arrested earlier this year on charges of separatism, The New York Times reported. The U.S. Department of State and human rights organizations have denounced Tohti’s arrest. 

“The issue for me is not my being denied entry — I can certainly continue my research and academic work without going to China — but the attempt to pressure those who speak in support of Ilham to retreat into silence, or at least to isolate them,” Elliot Sperling, the professor who was turned back and a Tibetan history expert at Indiana University, told the newspaper.

The Times noted that China has a history of denying entry to scholars and journalists who have been critical of the Chinese government.  

July 8, 2014

The American Anthropological Association, with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, will develop an electronic platform to cut down on the time it takes to review scholarly books. The platform will be built on top of Open Journal Systems, the open-source journal management software, which is already in use by about 20,000 journals. 

"The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is essentially paying for that system to be extended such that it can support a digital-centric process for reviewing books, so that book reviews come out more quickly and in a way that will potentially save scholarly presses and journal editorial offices money," Oona Schmid, director of publishing for the American Anthropological Association, said in an email.

The platform will allow presses to quickly deliver electronic copies of books to reviewers and collect their feedback. The University of Chicago Press, University of Nebraska Press, University of New Mexico Press, University Press of Colorado and the University Press of Florida have signed on to support the platform, which will launch as a prototype later this year.

July 8, 2014

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is currently facing legal challenges from several directions: the former University of California basketball player Ed O'Bannon's class action regarding players' likenesses, the high-profile lawyer Jeffrey Kessler's lawsuit about athlete compensation, and concussion lawsuits from athletes in several sports.

Those challenging the NCAA have their work cut out for them in the long run, however, a new study from the University of Illinois argues. link? dl

When college athletes sue the NCAA, they often win the initial round of litigation, the study concluded, but the NCAA eventually wins more than 70 percent of the time on appeal.

"The first round of litigation is essentially a coin flip, but the win-probability for the student-athletes quickly plummets in subsequent rounds of appeals," said Michael LeRoy, a professor of labor and employment relations and the study's author.

The findings could also point to the future of a case the NCAA is not yet directly involved in, LeRoy said. Northwestern University is currently appealing a National Labor Relations Board regional director's ruling that football players there are university employees. The law supports Northwestern's and the NCAA's theoretical model of amateurism, LeRoy said. The NCAA filed an amicus brief last week supporting Northwestern.

"Even though schools profit off the sweat of college football players, a federal appeals court is unlikely to view this commercial reality as legal justification to alter the NCAA's amateurism model," LeRoy said.

July 8, 2014

College athletes who have abusive coaches are more likely than are other college athletes to cheat to win games, according to new research published in the journal Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology. Almost 20,000 athletes were interviewed, and abusive coaching was defined as having a head coach who engaged in behavior such as putting down students in front of others. The study also found that athletes with ethical, supportive coaches were not only less likely to cheat, but also were more likely to feel happy about their college choices.


July 8, 2014

The student support services provider Perceptis is now a Blackboard company. The company, which serves more than 1.4 million students, faculty members and administrators, offers both simple support such as helping users recover lost passwords and back-end services such as data entry and conversion. Perceptis has previously offered services to users of learning management systems such as Blackboard Learn and Moodle, which Blackboard in 2012 invested in when it acquired Moodlerooms and NetSpot.

July 8, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Holly Bik, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California at Davis Genome Center, analyzes sea-water in an effort to “barcode the sea.” Learn more about the Academic Minute here.



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