Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 19, 2013

Harvard University's investment arm has created a new position -- vice president for sustainable investing -- which will focus on the environmental, social and corporate governance issues related to Harvard's investments, The Boston Globe reported. While various groups have over the years urged Harvard to refrain from or sell certain kinds of investments, the university has generally focused on obtaining the greatest return. 

February 19, 2013

Another sign of the competition among MOOCs (massive online open courses) for the global student population: The all-British MOOC provider on Monday announced an expansion and British Prime Minister David Cameron promoted the offerings during a trip to India. Cameron said that the expansion of Futurelearn (as the MOOC provider is called) "will mean that Indian students can access some of the best teaching and learning online from their home in Mumbai or Delhi." And a statement from Simon Nelson, CEO of Futurelearn, noted the international competition. "Until now, this market has been dominated by companies based in the U.S., but with 18 U.K. partners, we are determined to provide the smartest and most engaging online learning experiences and revolutionize conventional models of education."

The new members of Futurelearn are the British Library, Queen's University Belfast and the Universities of Bath, Leicester, Nottingham and Reading.

February 19, 2013

Catawba College has announced that some applicants no longer have to submit SAT or ACT scores. The option will be available to those with a high school grade-point average of at least 3.25. Those who opt not to submit SAT or ACT scores will need to submit additional materials, including an "extracurricular and leadership résumé," as well as a personal statement.
 

February 19, 2013

Critics of Emory University President James Wagner don't appear to be satisfied by his apology for a letter in the alumni magazine in which he suggested the Constitution's three-fifths compromise was a model for how opposing parties can work together. While Wagner issued an apology for his wording and for the hurt it caused, students and faculty members report considerable discussion taking place (much of it online) about anger over the original statement. The Black Students Alliance and the NAACP chapter at the university are planning a rally Wednesday. They also will draw attention to other issues of concern, such as a student-run television show that in December referenced the Supreme Court case on affirmative action in college admissions and urged viewers to help identify students who "shouldn’t be here and are only at the school because of affirmative action." Methods suggested for finding such students included lynching, tarring and feathering, and cross-burning. (The university and the students who produced the show have apologized.)

Some of Wagner's critics used social media Monday to express their views, with a fake Twitter account in the president's name and with a new blog called "At Emory: We Are Sorry." The latter features images and words: a photo of the president with only three-fifths of the image visible, text from James Baldwin about the way the United States limited the rights of black people, a photo of an Emory student holding a sign saying "Sorry, everybody. I wasn't expecting someone to praise the 3/5 compromise in the year 2013 either." The site was created as "a way for us to signal to everyone else that the messages being sent out from Emory do not necessarily express the views of the students and faculty whose work is the actual backbone of the school."

On Emory's Facebook page, comments are mixed. Some of those posting are angry with Wagner. But other posts say that critics are trying to embarrass the president because of recent budget cuts with which they disagree. One comment along these lines: "Stop the faux outrage. You live privileged academic lives at one of the best institutions in America. In a time where every institution is tightening, you all have the gall to intentionally distort this man's words. Character assassination isn't going to help restructure the university's budget."

i have call/e-mail out to emory to see whether any further steps are planned by wagner -sj

 

February 19, 2013

The University of Oxford announced Monday that it is temporarily blocking access to Google Docs, citing a series of "phishing" attacks in which people have used Google Docs to collect e-mail addresses linked to the university's network. A statement from Oxford said: "We appreciate and apologize for the disruption this caused for our users. Nevertheless, we must always think in terms of the overall risk to the university as a whole, and we certainly cannot rule out taking such action again in future, although our thresholds for doing so may be somewhat higher. We are meanwhile investigating several possible technical measures for reducing the risks to the university with less impact on legitimate network usage, and will be reviewing our emergency communications procedures. We will also be pressuring Google that they need to be far more responsive, if not proactive, regarding abuse of their services for criminal activities."

 

February 19, 2013

Some students at Susquehanna University are questioning a decision to remove 11 members from the football and track and field times because of their participation in a "Harlem Shake" Internet video, WNEP 16 News reported. Many students around the country are filming videos in which they dance to a hip-hop song. The objection at Susquehanna was to simulated sexual acts during part of the video. The university said that the athletes' behavior was "disappointing," but added that they were given plans that, if completed, would allow them to return to their teams. Some students thought the university overreacted.

The video is below and does feature (clothed) simulated acts, so please view only if you are comfortable doing so.

 

 

February 18, 2013

The Cooper Union, which has traditionally awarded full scholarships to all students but which last year started charging tuition to graduate students, is again considering tuition for undergraduates, The New York Times reported. The move to start charging graduate students was designed to keep undergraduate education free, but officials at Cooper Union said that financial challenges may make it impossible to remain tuition-free. Many student and alumni critics, however, say that an important tradition is at risk, and some question spending priorities by administrators.

 

February 18, 2013

Amid controversy about one of two finalists’ involvement in military prison systems, the University of Missouri at Columbia has halted its search for a new division executive director in its College of Education.

Dan Clay, college dean, sent out an email last week saying he "decided to not fill the position at this time" after receiving a recommendation from a faculty search committee and "input from other stakeholders,” The Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

The announcement followed a protest and additional community backlash related to retired Col. Larry James’ consideration for the post, after his name surfaced as a strong candidate earlier this month. Opponents cited the former Army psychologist’s work at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as disqualifying for an academic position. James, dean of the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University, wrote about his experiences reforming both prisons’ treatment of detainees as their director of behavioral health in a memoir called Fixing Hell: An Army Psychologist Confronts Abu Ghraib. He maintains that numerous independent investigations have revealed no wrongdoing on his part.

A spokeswoman for Mizzou’s College of Education, told the Tribune it was "really a decision about both candidates," which also included Matthew Burns, a faculty member of the University of Minnesota Department of Educational Psychology. "Neither of the individuals was the right person at this time.”

James did not respond to a request for comment.

 

February 18, 2013

A new report from the American Sociological Association considers whether the discipline should embrace postdoctoral fellowships. Currently, postdocs are not common in sociology, although a few, small postdoc programs are successful. The question for the field, the report suggests, is whether expanding postdoc options could be done while preserving the high quality of the experience of those in the relatively few programs that exist now.

 

February 18, 2013

Morehouse College announced Saturday that President Obama will be its commencement speaker this year, Politico reported. Morehouse's new president, John Silvanus Wilson Jr., was executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities during President Obama's first term. U.S. presidents have in recent years appeared at three commencements a year -- one public institution, one private institutions and a U.S. service academy.

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