Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 2, 2013

Johnson University, in Tennessee, and Florida Christian College merged Monday, creating the Johnson University System. Florida Christian will now be called Johnson University Florida, and the system will also offer courses online. Current enrollment in Florida is 371, while enrollment in Tennessee is 954.

July 2, 2013

The tendency of black students to enroll in urban and less-selective public universities and the fact that they attend high schools of lesser quality contribute to their lower graduation rates in college -- but the "primary driver" of the black-white graduation gap is a difference in "pre-entry" traits such as ACT scores and high school class rank, according to a study published Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Though the study (abstract available here) is based on data from Missouri, the researchers suggest that the findings could apply nationally, although they cite several limitations, including that the data are derived only from public four-year universities in the state.

July 2, 2013

The American Association of University Professors on Monday issued a statement expressing concern about the recent decision of the University of Colorado Board of Regents to conduct a survey of the political climate at the Boulder campus. Regents said that they were concerned about liberal bias. The AAUP statement questioned whether the regents should be voicing views on the overall climate before having conducted a survey. And the AAUP statement noted that faculties are hardly as uniform as some critics suggest.

"To be sure, in some disciplines in the humanities, for instance, most faculty may consider themselves moderate to liberal," said the statement. "But in other disciplines, for instance, business, economics, or engineering, faculty views tend to be much more conservative. Political litmus tests, whether utilized in individual hiring decisions or in assessments of entire faculties or campus climates, are clear violations of the principles of academic freedom." The statement stressed that the results of the survey should not be used to influence faculty hiring or to impose political litmus tests.

 

July 2, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Anders Hakansson of the State University of New York at Buffalo reveals how a substance found in breast milk could turn the tide on drug-resistant superbugs. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

July 2, 2013

These meetings, conferences, seminars and other events will be held in the coming weeks in and around higher education. They are among the many such that appear in our calendar, to which campus and other officials can submit their own events. Our site also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education; please submit your news to both listings.

July 1, 2013

Last week's Supreme Court decision raises questions about whether colleges have explored race-neutral alternatives to the consideration of race in admissions decisions. An article in The Los Angles Times notes that the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Los Angeles have had to explore race-neutral alternatives ever since the state in 1996 barred them from considering race. Both campuses have created and expanded various outreach efforts.

But black and Latino enrollments have still not recovered. At UCLA, black students made up 7.1 percent of the class admitted the year before consideration of race was banned. Last fall, they made up 3.6 percent of freshmen. At Berkeley, the fall was from 6.3 percent to 3.4 percent. Latino enrollments are also down, and although the drops are smaller, the state saw large increases during this time period in the share of Latinos in state high schools. Still, at UCLA, the percentage of Latinos dropped from 21.5 percent while consideration of race and ethnicity was allowed to 18.1 percent. At Berkeley, the drop was 15.5 percent to 13 percent.

July 1, 2013

City Colleges of Chicago has announced a strategic plan that aims to boost its graduation rate from 12 percent to more than 20 percent by 2018. The two-year system has also set a goal of increasing the number of degrees it issues each year by almost 40 percent. And it seeks for more than half of graduating students to transfer to four-year institutions. Cheryl L. Hyman, the system's chancellor, has promised to make improving student completion a priority. Graduation rates stood at 7 percent before her arrival in 2010.

July 1, 2013

A New Jersey judge has refused to dismiss a suit by residents of Princeton, N.J., challenging the tax-exempt status of much property at Princeton University, The Times of Trenton reported. Like challenges to the tax-exempt status of college and university facilities elsewhere, the suit argues that some facilities are used for purposes removed from Princeton's educational missions. But the novel argument (disputed by the university) in the suit is that because of Princeton's extensive activities with patent royalty income -- and the sharing of that income with faculty members -- Princeton has become a commercial enterprise, and thus should pay taxes.

July 1, 2013

St. Augustine's University announced Friday that it has reassigned two employees, both convicted murderers who have been working on a summer camp run by the university, the Associated Press reported. One of the employees was convicted of murder in 1981 and the other in 2003. The university said that there have been no complaints about their performance. ABC News, however, quoted local parents as saying that they would want to know if employees of a program involving children had been convicted in murders.

 

July 1, 2013

A proposed expansion of the Erasmus program, which funds student mobility across Europe, is in the works. The Irish Presidency of the European Union announced last week that it had brokered a €16 billion (approximately $20.8 billion) deal for Erasmus +, which for the first time would support international initiatives in education, training, youth and sport under a single umbrella. Under the agreement, more than 4 million people would receive EU grants for education and training opportunities from 2014 to 2020, nearly doubling current numbers.

The agreement is pending approval by the European Parliament. 

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