Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 21, 2014

More than a quarter of college students (26 percent) are raising dependent children, according to a new report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research. A majority of the parent population is made up of single parents, most of them women. Single mothers make up 43 percent of the student parent population, while single fathers make up 11 percent.


November 21, 2014

The University of California Board of Regents on Thursday approved a controversial plan to hike student tuition up to 27 percent by the end of the decade. The plan is opposed by state Governor Jerry Brown and students. The UC administration, led by system President Janet Napolitano, argues the tuition increases are necessary to cope with inadequate funding by Brown and the legislature. The passage of the plan may now turn students, who opposed the tuition increases and protested the regents’ meetings this week, to fight for more money from the Brown administration during the upcoming legislative session. Brown's allies have accused Napolitano of structuring the plan in such a way that students are hostages.

November 21, 2014

The paper was written in 2005 and never meant for publication. But it appears “Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List” has found a potential spot in the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology. Although the paper consists of just those seven words, over and over again, a journal review form states that the submission from Peter Vamplew, associate professor of engineering at IT at Australia’s Federation University, is “excellent.” Thing is, Vamplew didn’t write the paper; he merely forwarded a copy of the bogus article written by two other, now-associate professors of computer science, David Mazieres, of Stanford University, and Eddie Kohler, of Harvard University.

They reportedly wrote the paper nearly 10 years ago, to protest spam conference invitations. Vamplew recently used it to respond to what he thought was a spam invitation to publish in the open-access International Journal of Advanced Computer Science. In response, the Federation University professor received the aforementioned praise -- and directions to wire $150 to a given account to proceed with publication.

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado at Denver, first reported the story on his blog, Scholarly Open Access. The website includes a running list of over 650 publishers of what Beall has called “predatory” journals: those of questionable quality that require authors to pay publication fees.

 Via email, Beall said of the incident: “It's clear that no peer review was done at all and that this particular journal (along with many like it) exists only to get money from scholarly authors. The open-access publishing model has some serious weaknesses, and predatory journals are poisoning all of scholarly communication.” He also said the story indicates that academics are tired of spam invites to contribute to questionable conferences and journals.

In response to a request for comment, the editor of the International Journal said via email: "This is your work, you are publish any where any time but another person publish this work is is fraud and copyright. So you are send me a camera ready paper and payment slip as soon as possible." The editor did not sign a name, but the journal's website lists its editor-in-chief as Rishi Asthana, professor of computer science and engineering at Manglaytan University. (The spelling is different from that of Mangalayatan University, in India.)

November 21, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Douglas Kerr, professor of English at the University of Hong Kong, discusses the legendary author’s work with a contemporary context. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


November 20, 2014

Three people were shot early this morning in the Strozier Library at Florida State University, and the gunman was subsequently shot by university police officers, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. The police officers confronted the shooter on the steps of the library, ordered him to drop his weapon, and shot him after he refused to do so and instead fired on them. During the period after the shooting started, students in the library used social media to communicate (see the hashtags PrayForFSU) with messages such as "we're stuck in a library with a shooter in the building." Some posted photographs of police officers (at right). Florida State posted a brief statement on its website early Thursday stating that the library had been secured. Little information was available on those who had been shot or on the shooter.

The Strozier Library is open 24 hours and reportedly was crowded at the time of the shooting.

Shortly after 5 a.m., Florida State President John Thrasher released a statement on the university's Facebook page in which he said that the three who were shot are students. He said that, based on briefings he has received from the police, he believes the violence was "an isolated incident." He added, however: "We are increasing security measures and providing a strong law enforcement presence on and around campus today. I have great confidence in the abilities of our local law enforcement agencies to handle this matter."

In an unusual development, one student has reported that his life may have been saved when a bullet fired by the shooter hit a book in his backpack (a book about the 14th century philosopher John Wyclif) and spared the student, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. The student went to the library for the book to finish a paper for a course on the Christian tradition.

The video below was posted on YouTube showing students in the library receiving information about what they should do.





November 20, 2014

The University of Alabama's Nick Saban is by far the nation's highest-paid college football coach, at $7.1 million this year, but another 26 coaches are also earning at least $3 million in 2014-15, USA Today's annual survey of Football Bowl Subdivision coaches' salaries finds. Four head coaches -- Michigan State University's Mark Dantonio, the University of Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, Texas A&M University's Kevin Sumlin, and the University of Texas at Austin's Charlie Strong -- join Saban with salaries of $5 million or more, and a total of 11 coaches top the $4 million mark.

Seven institutions -- Boston College, Brigham Young, Syracuse, Temple and Vanderbilt, and Wake Forest Universities, and the University of Southern California -- declined to provide salary information to the newspaper.

November 20, 2014

An in-depth article in Rolling Stone details a woman's description of a gang rape she experienced at a University of Virginia fraternity, and the culture on campus that the article suggests makes women vulnerable to rape and to being treated poorly if they try to report such assaults. The article was released Wednesday and the university's president, Teresa A. Sullivan, responded with a statement. "The article describes an alleged sexual assault of a female student at a fraternity house in September 2012, including many details that were previously not disclosed to University officials. I have asked the Charlottesville Police Department to formally investigate this incident, and the university will cooperate fully with the investigation," Sullivan wrote. "The university takes seriously the issue of sexual misconduct, a significant problem that colleges and universities are grappling with across the nation. Our goal is to provide an environment that is as safe as possible for our students and the entire university community."


November 20, 2014

A math instructor at Weber State University completed coursework for five football players, including a final exam, according to a National Collegiate Athletic Association infractions decision announced Wednesday. The football players gave the instructor their usernames and passwords during the spring 2013 semester, and she logged in to their online math courses to complete tests, quizzes, and exams. As the semester came to an end, an adjunct instructor for one of the math classes noticed that a player had completed six quizzes and a final exam -- all in one hour. The adjunct's concern led to a full review of the developmental math program.

Weber State charged the five students with academic dishonesty and gave them failing grades. The university also alerted the NCAA about the misconduct, and during the investigation, other players said they received help Though NCAA investigators alleged that Weber State had failed to monitor the academic coursework of athletes, the Division I Committee on Infractions determined that the university's compliance system had detected the violations and quickly taken action. "We take full responsibility for the incident," Charles Wight, Weber State's president, said in a statement. "While we regret that it occurred, it is reassuring to know the systems we have in place quickly detected these unethical activities. We must remain vigilant going forward."

The university received several penalties, including three years of probation, a fine of $5,000 plus 2 percent of the football program's operating budget, and a reduction of 9 football equivalency scholarships. The instructor received a five-year show-cause order, and if the instructor ever works for another member institution and has responsibilities in its athletic department, the institution must appear before a committee panel. "The violations were detected in a reasonable time," Rodney Uphoff, chief committee on infractions hearing officer, said during a press call Wednesday. "The school was credited with promptly detecting and coming forward with the information as required by the membership."

Several college sports programs have faced questions about academic dishonesty this year, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is still being investigated by both the NCAA and its accrediting agency after it was revealed that about 1,500 athletes there were steered toward no-show courses that never met, were not taught by any faculty members, and where the only work required was a single research paper that received a high grade no matter the content.

November 20, 2014

Sue Cunningham (right), who has held key fund-raising positions in Australia and Britain, has been selected as the next president of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. She will in March succeed John Lippincott, who is retiring. Cunningham is currently vice-principal (advancement) at the University of Melbourne. Previously, she was director of development at the University of Oxford, director external relations at St. Andrews University in Scotland and was director of development at the National Museums and Galleries of Wales.

In an interview, Cunningham noted that CASE, while primarily an organization of Americans in fund-raising, public relations, alumni affairs and other advancement fields in higher education, has has grown in recent years to have a strong presence around the world. She has been a longtime active CASE member from her various positions, and said that "what CASE has done magnificently is to really globalize what it does."

She said that in the current challenging environment for higher education, she saw much commonality in the different jobs that make up CASE's members. "This is all about building relationships, with alumni, with potential donors, with opinion formers," she said. And it is important, she said, to push fund-raising without letting the government off the hook. Fund-raising, she said, "is not about replacing" government funding.


November 20, 2014

Graduate students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa are camping out in tents on campus this week to protest rumored budget cuts. They said that they’ve already received verbal assurances to some of their demands -- namely, that no teaching assistant positions will be dropped next semester. But the rallies, marches and sit-in will continue until they have a statement in writing from the administration, organizers said.

The protests, organized in part by a group called Fix UH Manoa, started after graduate students learned that up to 15 teaching assistant positions could be cut from the biology department for the upcoming spring semester. Graduate students said in letters to administrators that the cuts were ordered so late in the fall semester that graduate students wouldn’t have time to make alternative financial arrangements, jeopardizing their ability to continue their studies. The cuts also would harm undergraduate students, they said, since graduate students manage a heavy class burden and those courses would have to be canceled.  

The cuts were never announced officially, but Jonathan Whitney, a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in biology, said they were discussed in emails and meetings with upper-level administration. Nobody was certain exactly how many positions would be cut, he said.

Reed Dasenbrock, vice chancellor for academic affairs, said hours after the protests started Monday that there would not be any teaching assistant positions or core courses cut in the spring. But the student group wants to ensure that administrators aren’t pacifying them now, only to make more dramatic cuts in the fall, Whitney said. “It’s a piece of positive reinforcement, but there’s still a big mess and a lot of work to be done,” he said.

Among other demands, students want a more transparent system of spending, so they know where budget cuts are happening and why, and want the teaching assistant positions that have already been eliminated this year to be reinstated. 

Added: In a statement Wednesday, Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman said he regretted "any undue anxiety caused by premature announcements about possible cuts at the school and college level." He reiterated that no positions would be cut next semester.

Colleges have been spending more than they were allocated in the budget, and as a result, Bley-Vroman mandated all departments to stay within their annual allocations. Next month, a budget committee that includes representatives from the Graduate Student Organization will finish a proposal for a new way to allocate money for the 2015-16 budget that will be presented to the public, according to the statement.



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