Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Daniel S. Papp, president of Kennesaw State University, is defending Timothy J.L Chandler, whom Papp recently selected as provost, amid criticism of a paper Chandler wrote that cites Marx several times. Local critics have questioned the selection of Chandler because of a paper he published in The Journal of Higher Education in which he quoted Marx and Marxist ideas in a critique of the way colleges and universities have applied or failed to apply the ideas of Ernest Boyer's Scholarship Reconsidered. (The first page of the article is available on JSTOR, and JSTOR subscribers can read the article there.)

In Papp's statement, he said that "I am convinced that Dr. Chandler is neither Marxist nor anti-American, as some have alleged." Papp added that in his discussions with Chandler, his provost pick "expressed appreciation for the support for his appointment that he has received from the academic community, and declared that 'attacks on my character, including the suggestion that I am undemocratic, are baseless.' Further, Dr. Chandler said that he is 'not inclined to withdraw from the provost position under the cloud of a Red scare.' "

Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Legislators in Florida on Wednesday dropped from a larger bill a provision that would have allowed individuals to carry concealed weapons on college and university campuses in the state, the Miami Herald reported. The proposal to allow concealed carry on campuses, one of many being considered around the country, was opposed strongly by college leaders, campus police chiefs and students, and backed by the National Rifle Association.

Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 3:00am

A 50 percent budget cut proposed Tuesday by Pennsylvania's governor could force Pennsylvania State University to shutter some of its 24 campuses, the university's president said at a news conference Wednesday. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quoted Graham Spanier as calling such an outcome a "distinct possibility," saying that the cutback, which he and other college leaders vowed to fight, would threaten the "viability" of some of the university's regional campuses. A spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, meanwhile, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the state-college system was not considering closing any of its campuses, despite a Democratic lawmaker's prediction that Governor Tom Corbett's proposed cut could compel such a result.

Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 3:00am

As the Los Angeles Times continues a series about problems with a mammoth construction program at the Los Angeles Community College District, the district board on Wednesday fired the head of the program, the Times reported. The district has up until now criticized the series and defended the program. Larry Eisenberg, who was fired, has defended the program as well, while admitting that there were problems that still needed fixing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Duke University's David Brady explores the relationship between a country or region’s level of poverty and its dominant political philosophy. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 3:00am

The North Carolina House of Representatives voted Monday to allow community colleges to opt out of offering low-interest federal loans to their students. The bill, which now goes to the Senate for likely approval, would scale back 2010 legislation requiring all community colleges in the state to participate in the federal loan program by July. Several community college presidents in the state have expressed concern that participation in the federal loan program would put their students at risk of losing federal financial aid if too many students at their institution do not repay their loans. Monday’s vote fell mostly along party lines, with Republicans supporting the opt-out bill and Democrats opposing it. Representative Ray Rapp, a Democrat who voted against the bill, told The News & Observer, “This is a frontal assault on the ability of students to pay for college.” Kennon Briggs, the system's executive vice president, told Inside Higher Ed that last year he had told the state legislature, "We prefer that this be a matter of local decision making and of choice because within our system you have varying degrees of wealth, private support and average income." Still, he clarified that the community college system would follow any directive of the state legislature. If the opt-out bill is signed into law, Briggs said that 24 community colleges in the state would participate in the federal loan program and 34 would not.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Adelphi University's Roni Berger discusses her experience as an eyewitness to revolution on a recent trip to Tunisia. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Southern California today will announce a $200 million gift to rename its College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the Los Angeles Times reported. The donation, from David Dornsife, an alumnus, and his wife Dana, comes with no restrictions on how it can be spent, to the delight of President C. L. Max Nikias, who told the newspaper the gift was "transformative." USC plans to use the funds to support faculty hiring, research and fellowships, and its officials said the money would especially bolster the humanities and social sciences, the Times said.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation on Tuesday to rewrite the country's patent laws, mostly in ways that strengthen the hand of institutions (including research universities) and companies over individual inventors. Ninety-five senators voted for the measure, which was backed by many higher education groups. The legislation is designed to align the U.S. patent system more closely with those in other major countries, and it would alter the law so a patent for an innovation would be granted to the first inventor to file an application for it, rather than to the creator of the innovation.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 3:00am

Pennsylvania's four-year institutions of higher education would see a nearly 50 percent cut in state support while community colleges would escape relatively unscathed, according to a budget proposal released Tuesday by Governor Tom Corbett. State support for the 14 universities in the State System of Higher Education and the four state-related institutions, Pennsylvania State University, Temple University, the University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University, all would be reduced by about 50 percent -- from nearly $1.1 billion to $554 million. The state's 14 community colleges would see funding decrease by 1 percent -- from $214 million to $212 million.

"I am here to say that education cannot be the only industry exempt from recession," Corbett, a Republican who is in his first year in office after serving as the state's attorney general. "I ask nothing more of our best educated people than to face up to a hard economic reality. The system in which you have flourished is in trouble." Corbett also noted that increasing levels of state subsidy over the past decades had not done anything to hold down tuition hikes during that period.

The union representing the faculty of the universities of the state system warned that the cuts, if they stand, will result in "massive" tuition increases and threaten to wreak long-term economic damage. Penn State's president, Graham Spanier, called the cut "devastating" and added that the drop in state support that it represents -- from 8 percent to 4 percent of the university's total budget -- "suggests a redefinition of Penn State’s role as Pennsylvania’s land-grant institution."

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