Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 30, 2013

Student and faculty groups at Gustavus Adolphus College are calling for the resignation of President Jack Ohle, saying that he has ignored faculty members and tried to diminish their role, questioning his handling of budget decisions, and arguing that his approach is more like that of a business leader than an academic leader, The Mankato Free Press reported. A website called GustieLeaks has also started publishing documents -- some of them leaked -- about the dispute and about Ohle's leadership. Ohle referred questions to the college's board, which had the college spokesman issue a statement that it was reviewing the situation. The statement said that Ohle has been meeting with faculty and student groups to discuss their concerns.

 

January 30, 2013

Harvard University officials have urged all faculty members to be clear in their syllabuses on policies about student collaboration, The Boston Globe reported. Some students complained last year, when the university experienced a major cheating scandal, that instructors were vague about the kind of collaboration that was permitted (and even encouraged) versus the kind of collaboration that would constitute cheating. The Globe quoted from the syllabus for an applied mathematics course to illustrate the kind of specificity now being encouraged. "For problem sets, students are strongly encouraged to collaborate in planning and thinking through solutions, but must write up their own solutions without checking over their written solution with another student," the syllabus said. "Do not pass solutions to problem sets nor accept them from another student. If you are ever in doubt, ask the course staff to clarify what is and isn’t appropriate."

 

January 29, 2013

College and university fund-raisers predict that giving to their institutions grew by an average of 5.5 percent in 2012, according to a twice-annual survey by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. If that prediction holds true, giving for 2012 would be higher than the $31.6 billion record high for the 2007-8 academic year. Fund-raisers also predict giving to grow by 5.8 percent in 2013, a rate equal to the average over the past 20 years.

January 29, 2013

The new chancellor of California's community colleges, Brice W. Harris, has written in opposition to a legal challenge to the system's shared governance structure. California Competes, a nonprofit group led by Robert Shireman, says local academic senates have illegal veto power over board actions, which contributes to a "tangled bureaucracy." Harris, however, said the shared governance regulations are lawful and good public policy. And while he said the group's intentions are well-meaning, they are "seriously flawed."

January 29, 2013

The Board of Trustees at Cedarville University, a Baptist college in Ohio recently shaken by intradenominational arguments and the resignation of two administrators, voted Friday to cut the college's philosophy major and to approve the unexplained resignation of its vice president for student life. The college said the major needed to be cut due to low student interest, and that a philosophy minor will remain an option; students and alumni argued that eliminating the major damages the college's credibility as a liberal arts institution.

“The last few weeks have been difficult for our university family,” the college's acting president, John Gredy, said in a statement announcing the change. “Please join me in praying that God will bring healing to our brokenness, peace to our hearts and unity to our community.” 

January 29, 2013

The Grainger Foundation has pledged $100 million for engineering programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The funds will be used for endowed chairs, scholarships and facilities.

January 29, 2013

A blueprint for an eventual overhaul of the nation's immigration system, announced Monday by a bipartisan group of eight senators, would ease the path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants and award green cards to foreign students who graduate with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The plan calls for a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally, and those brought to the U.S. by their parents at a young age -- would-be beneficiaries of the DREAM Act -- would face fewer hurdles. The plan also calls for increased enforcement, and stipulates those measures would need to be put in place before undocumented immigrants could receive green cards. 

January 29, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Peter McGraw of the University of Colorado at Boulder explores what makes jokes about tragic events too soon. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

January 28, 2013

Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who plays a key role in Congress on higher education issues, has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2014. Harkin is chair of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and of the appropriations subcommittee for education and health. In those roles, he has been a strong advocate for increased spending on student aid programs and biomedical research. He has been a frequent critic of for-profit higher education, and has backed tougher regulation of for-profit colleges. Harkin said that his proudest legislative accomplishment was having been chief sponsor of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which greatly expanded the rights of people with disabilities in education as well as other parts of society.

January 28, 2013

Most of The New Republic's interview with President Obama, published Sunday, is about political issues and his plans for the second term. But the magazine also asked the president, a sports fan, about whether he takes "less pleasure" in watching football, given the dangers faced by the players. Obama said he was concerned about the athletes, and urged the National Collegiate Athletic Association to consider these issues. "[I]f I had a son, I'd have to think long and hard before I let him play football," the president said. He added: "I tend to be more worried about college players than [National Football League] players in the sense that the NFL players have a union, they're grown men, they can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well-compensated for the violence they do to their bodies. You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on. That's something that I'd like to see the NCAA think about."

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