Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 16, 2013

The presidents of 165 universities in July issued a joint letter calling on President Obama and Congress to adopt policies to promote research and to deal with an "innovation deficit" created by inadequate support for investments in science and technology. The letter -- organized by the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities -- was part of an effort by those organizations and many universities to encourage more support for federal research and technology programs. Some faculty members at Purdue University, which is strong in science and technology and where many programs rely on federal support, noticed that their president didn't sign the letter, The Journal and Courier reported. Mitch Daniels, the president, released a statement to the newspaper explaining why he didn't sign: "I have been and will continue to be an advocate of major federal investments in research, particularly basic research," Daniels said. "I will say nothing negative about this letter, but, like many other presidents, I abstained from signing it, in my case, because of its complete omission of any recognition of the severe fiscal condition in which the nation finds itself."

August 16, 2013

A Minnesota jury has ordered Globe University, a for-profit institution, to pay $400,000 to Heidi Weber, who said she was fired for accusing the institution of using false and misleading job placement statistics, The Star Tribune reported. Weber sued under a Minnesota law designed to protect whistle-blowers. Globe said that she was dismissed for legitimate reasons.

 

August 16, 2013

Pennsylvania's Clarion University, citing state budget cuts, on Thursday announced plans to dismantle the College of Education and to eliminate 40 jobs, 22 of them faculty positions, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Some of the education programs will be relocated and some of the savings will be used to strengthen departments such as nursing. Elizabeth MacDaniel, chair of the English department and president of the campus chapter of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, predicted this campus reaction: "People are going to be angry. It's going to be horrible."

 
August 16, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Stephen Mucher of Bard College explains the motivations behind the first teacher observations of the 19th century. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

August 16, 2013

Jenny Sanford, who became nationally known when her then-husband and the then-governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, admitted to cheating on her, is interested in becoming president of the College of Charleston, The Post and Courier reported. The current president, George Benson, is stepping down next year. Sanford has never worked in academe, but she said that she has relevant skills from running her former husband's campaigns and following higher education issues when he was governor. She said higher education is in a period of "transformational change."

 

August 15, 2013

Public colleges and universities saw their revenue growth fall by more than half and their median expenses grow at almost double the rate of inflation in 2012, Moody's Investors Service said in a report Wednesday. The analysis, which examined median financial data, showed that revenues for public institutions grew by 1.7 percent, down from 4.8 percent in 2011, and that expenses grew at 3.3 percent, a combination that the ratings agency called "unsustainable." "Future expense reductions will likely need to be more significant and include re-evaluation of existing business models to maintain long-term financial health," a Moody's analyst said in the report.

A second report from the service, about median financial data for private colleges and universities, found a slightly more positive picture, as operating margins remained in the 4-5 percent range. "Governing boards and management teams continue to exhibit fiscal stewardship of private colleges and universities by holding median operating margins relatively constant over the last five years even as revenue declined," a Moody's official said.

August 15, 2013

The Israeli government plans to provide scholarships to students who post pro-Israel messages on social media sites as part of a new online public diplomacy campaign. Haaretz reported that the Prime Minister’s office has joined with the National Union of Israeli Students to create “covert units” at each of Israel’s seven universities, each to be headed by a senior student coordinator who will receive a full scholarship; other students who are involved will receive smaller scholarships. The Prime Minister’s office has allocated about $777,000 for scholarships in the upcoming academic year.

August 15, 2013

President Obama is planning a New York State bus tour next week to Binghamton, Buffalo and Syracuse (plus a trip to northern Pennsylvania) to talk about college tuitions and costs, the Associated Press reported. The president has promised to offer ideas about how to make college more affordable.

 

August 15, 2013

New York City officials on Wednesday issued a report card evaluating the effectiveness of teacher education programs that educate the teachers in the city's public schools. The New York Times reported that some of the results were not favorable to the most prestigious programs. For instance, one in five graduates of Columbia University and New York University received low grades for improving student test scores. But the figure was 1 in 10 for City College of the City University of New York. Evaluating teachers (or their alma maters) in this way is controversial, but city officials said it was important to share the data and raise questions about results.

 

August 15, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Robert Scherrer of Vanderbilt University lays out a hypothesis that could explain dark matters elusive nature. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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