Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 15, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Amanda Kibler, a professor of English education at the University of Virginia, chronicles the evolving nature of language and learning in this global age. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


September 12, 2014

Cornell University and the City of Ithaca have settled a lawsuit filed by the father of a freshman who killed himself in 2010, The Ithaca Journal reported. The father's suit charged that Cornell and Ithaca failed to take adequate steps in the design of a bridge from which the student jumped to his death. (Numerous changes to bridges around Cornell's campus have been made since then.) Under the settlement, Ithaca will pay $100,000 and Cornell will establish a permanent scholarship in the student's name. Ithaca objected to the settlement and said it was being forced into it by its insurance provider.

September 12, 2014

Some are questioning the plan put forward by the University of Oregon board chair for the search for the next president, The Register-Guard reported. The board chair has put forward a plan in which he will conduct the search with an "assist" committee. The board chair alone will be allowed to rank and eliminate finalists before presentation to the full board.


September 12, 2014

Robert G. Templin Jr., the longtime president of Northern Virginia Community College and one of the nation's most prominent two-year chiefs, has announced that he will retire from college in February 2015. After stepping down Templin will work part-time as a senior fellow at the Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program. In recent years Aspen has studied the performance of community colleges and awarded a $1 million prize for excellence every two years.

September 12, 2014

Two professors in Canada faced physical attacks this week by students or ex-students. CBC News reported that a student walked into her former instructor's office at the University of Toronto and attacked him with a kitchen knife. The professor was cut but held off the student. At Red River College, in Manitoba, a former student was charged with knocking down and punching an instructor, The Winnipeg Free Press reported.


September 12, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Susan Meschwitz, assistant professor of chemistry at Salve Regina University, explains the health benefits of honey. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


September 11, 2014

The University of South Carolina Upstate, under legislative pressure, in April called off a planned appearance by a lesbian humorist. This week Wofford College, a private liberal arts institution in South Carolina, held the performance banned at South Carolina Upstate, an appearance by Leigh Hendrix of her one-woman show “How to be a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less.” The appearance was organized by Mark Ferguson, chair of the department of theater, who said it was important to support academic and artistic freedom that had been squelched at a neighboring public institution. Of the cancellation, he said, that "for my colleagues and me, it was an excruciating embarrassment for the state of South Carolina.”

September 11, 2014

Kentucky State University’s plan to kick out a quarter of its students for failing to pay their bills has paid off for the university.

About 452 of the 645 students the university dropped last week for unpaid bills have paid their balances in full or have worked out a payment plan with the university such that they are able to continue taking classes, Kentucky State announced Wednesday. The university’s current enrollment is now 1,881.

The public historically black college last week blamed students with unpaid bills for a $7 million deficit.  So those students -- about 25 percent of the college's population – were dropped, two weeks into the school year.

Interim President Raymond Burse said this week he wanted to thank students and parents who “answered my call for action and accountability.”

“Once students understood that the university was serious about their charges being paid up front, “ Burse said in a statement, “a large number of them found resources to meet their financial obligations to KSU.”

Breana Smith, the president of Kentucky State’s Student Government Association, earlier this week called the situation “unfortunate,” but said in an email Monday, “The university is doing all that it can to help students stay in school; but at the end of the day, the university has to collect tuition and fees in order to maintain its financial stability.”

The Faculty Senate also met earlier this week to discuss the financial conditions.

“We agreed that there needs to be a change in policy to prevent students from returning or enrolling if they are not meeting their financial obligations,” Faculty Senate President Peter A. Smith said in an email. “There were no comments from either senators or the other faculty present that disapproved of the president's action; the discussion focused on what role the faculty could play in restoring financial security to the University.”

Kentucky State is among the public HBCUs that have been struggling with enrollment declines, cuts to government financial aid, leadership controversies and heightened oversight.

September 11, 2014

On a typical day of classes, college students are still more likely to use a laptop than a tablet or smartphone, according to a survey on mobile device use sponsored by Pearson. The survey, conducted by Harris Poll, found smartphone use growing almost as common as laptop use, however. Nearly nine in 10 students surveyed, or 89 percent, used a laptop on a regular basis, compared to 83 percent who said they used a smartphone. Last year, 72 percent of survey respondents said they used a smartphone. Tablet use is increasing more slowly, with 45 percent of surveyed students saying they used one regularly -- up 5 percent from the year before.

September 11, 2014

Learning management system provider Blackboard has simplified how it licenses its smartphone app Mobile Learn. Colleges and universities can license the app for use across the institution, or they can leave it up to individual instructors and students, for whom the price for the app is $1.99. Previously, the app cost $1.99 a year, or $5.99 for life. The change appears to be a result of the company's announcement this July that it would bundle its products together in different solutions.

Note: This article has been updated to reflect how the licensing system has changed.


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