Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, June 4, 2012 - 3:00am

Vanderbilt University's football coach, James Franklin, has apologized for comments he made about his assistant coaches and their wives, CBS reported. Appearing on a radio show, he said: "I’ve been saying it for a long time, I will not hire an assistant coach until I’ve seen his wife.... If she looks the part, and she’s a D-1 recruit, then you got a chance to get hired. That’s part of the deal." With university officials and others criticizing the remarks, Franklin sought to clarify his remark. On Twitter, he wrote, "My foot doesn’t taste good, I hope I did not offend any1, I love & respect ALL." He added, "Attempt at humor obviously fell a few yds short. Was speaking to the courage it takes 4 men 2 approach the women who become their wives!!!!!"

Monday, June 4, 2012 - 4:21am

The budget cuts and enrollment limits faced by California's public colleges have led to increased recruiting (and increased enrollment) of California students at out-of-state colleges, The Los Angeles Times reported. Washington State University enrolled 132 Californians in the fall of 2011, double the figure from a year before. The University of Oregon now has 1,000 Californians, twice the level of five years ago. At college fairs in the state, out-of-state colleges stress their ability to provide small classes, and enough open spots in classes that students can graduate in four years.

 

Monday, June 4, 2012 - 3:00am

The Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from Ward Churchill, formerly a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who sued the university challenging his firing, The Denver Post reported. Churchill was fired after faculty committees found that he had engaged in repeated instances of scholarly misconduct. He denied the charges and said he was really being fired (illegally) for his controversial political views. The Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal on three issues: whether a university's investigation into the writings of a faculty member, and subsequent termination of that faculty member, violates the First Amendment; whether university regents are immune from lawsuits; and whether -- if regents are immune from lawsuits -- Churchill can win his job back.

Monday, June 4, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jay Pasachoff of Williams College explains the rare transit of Venus taking place on June 5th. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, June 4, 2012 - 3:00am

A new poll by Gallup has found that 46 percent of Americans believe that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so." Another 32 percent believe that humans have evolved over millions of years but "God guided the process." And only 15 percent believe that humans evolved without help from God. The breakdown is similar to that Gallup found in 1982, when it started asking about evolution. But in the last year, the percentage who believe in a creationist view increased from 40 to 46 percent, with the other two categories dropping.

Other findings of the new poll:

  • Among those who attend church weekly, 67 percent hold the creationist view.
  • Among Republicans, 58 percent hold the creationist view. (The figure for Democrats is 41 percent.)
  • By educational status, those with some postgraduate education are least likely (25 percent) to hold the creationist view, but among college graduates, the share (46 percent) matches that of the general population.

The analysis by Gallup states: "Most Americans are not scientists, of course, and cannot be expected to understand all of the latest evidence and competing viewpoints on the development of the human species. Still, it would be hard to dispute that most scientists who study humans agree that the species evolved over millions of years, and that relatively few scientists believe that humans began in their current form only 10,000 years ago without the benefit of evolution. Thus, almost half of Americans today hold a belief, at least as measured by this question wording, that is at odds with the preponderance of the scientific literature."

Monday, June 4, 2012 - 3:00am

Manipal University, a private institution in India, is in talks to open a campus in China, in collaboration with two universities in that country, Tianjin University and Tongji University, The Hindu reported. The campus being planned would be the first in China to offer a program in information technology and other sciences, taught only in English.

 

Monday, June 4, 2012 - 3:00am

Enrollments in graduate science, engineering and technology programs have grown sharply over the last decade but slowed in 2009-10, according to new data from the National Science Foundation. The NSF study, drawn from the Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering conducted by the foundation and the National Institutes of Health, shows that enrollments in graduate programs in STEM fields grew by 30 percent from 2000 to 2010, and that the growth was even larger -- 50 percent -- in the number of first-time, full-time enrollees in such programs. Enrollments of women grew at a faster pace than those of men (roughly 40 percent vs. 30 percent), and the rates of enrollments by underrepresented minority studies outpaced those of white and Asian Americans (though their actual numbers were much lower).

While enrollments continued to rise in 2009-10, hitting a historical peak, the rate of growth slowed significantly, particularly among full-time, first-time students. The enrollment of such students fell to 1.7 percent in science programs and 4 percent in engineering programs, compared to 8.2 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively, in 2008-9.

Friday, June 1, 2012 - 3:00am

The College Board is being criticized by admissions officers and others over a pilot program that will test an August administration of the SAT this summer -- but only for participants in a program for gifted and talented students with a $4,500 price tag. So critics are deriding the program as a "rich kids SAT." Many students have requested an opportunity to take the SAT in August, when they might not be dealing with schoolwork, so the complaint isn't about trying out the idea, but doing so in only one setting. A statement from the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (a frequent critic of the College Board) notes questions raised by a private college counselor in a letter to College Board officials: "Why is a summer test being made available only to kids whose parents can pay close to $5000 in tuition and fees? Do not College Board annual reports already demonstrate that students from the highest socio-economic backgrounds significantly out-score other demographic groups on the SAT? Why are other students who are preparing for the SAT over the summer also not allowed to take an August test?  How does the College Board justify making all these students wait until October?"

Matt Lisk, executive director of the SAT Program, issued this statement: "This program was announced publicly nearly two months ago. In response to the many requests from students, parents, and educators to consider a summer SAT administration, the College Board will be conducting a pilot SAT administration in August 2012 to begin evaluating the feasibility of a summer test administration. Because of the obvious differences in the logistics of testing in the summer due to school and faculty schedules, a pilot program such as this is the only sound way to work through any potential operational challenges before considering an expansion to millions of students and thousands of sites.  This year's pilot is being conducted in collaboration with the not-for-profit National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT).  If successful, we will examine the expansion of the scope of the summer SAT administration to additional locations in the near future."

 

Friday, June 1, 2012 - 3:00am

U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley has asked the National Institutes of Health to explain why it has provided a new grant to a researcher who was barred from receiving federal funds several years ago in a conflict of interest controversy. In a letter to NIH Director Francis S. Collins, Grassley questioned a $400,000 grant awarded to Charles Nemeroff, who resigned from Emory University in 2008 amid an investigation into his failure to report fees received from a pharmaceutical company in violation of institutional rules.

"It’s troubling that NIH continues to provide limited federal dollars to individuals who have previously had grant funding suspended for failure to disclose conflicts of interest and even more troubling that the Administration chose not to require full, open and, public disclosure of financial interests on a public website,” Grassley wrote in the letter, which he copied to Donna E. Shalala, president of the University of Miami, which hired Nemeroff in 2009.

Grassley was critical of the Obama administration last year for revising its conflict of interest rules in ways that some ethics experts thought were not strong enough.

 

Friday, June 1, 2012 - 4:21am

Some at the University of California at Los Angeles are questioning why Justin Combs is receiving a full-ride athletic scholarship, The Los Angeles Times reported. The questions don't relate to his academic or athletic qualifications, but to his wealth. Combs is the son of Sean (Diddy) Combs, who has so much money that he gave his son a $360,000 Maybach for his 16th birthday. UCLA officials stress that funds for athletic scholarships are financed separately from the budget for need-based awards. Justin Combs used Twitter this week to defend the scholarship, writing: "Regardless what the circumstances are, I put that work in!!!!"

 

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