Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 15, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Tim Lockley of the University of Warwick explains why 19th-century yellow fever epidemics hit some segments of Savannah’s population harder than others. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 15, 2012

The Australian Human Rights Commission has issued principles to protect the rights of international students enrolled in Australia. The principles are intended as a guide for universities, government entities and others on which the students rely for fair treatment. The four principles call for "enhancing the human rights of international students," "ensuring all international students have access to human rights and freedom from discrimination protections," "understanding the diverse needs of international students" and "empowering international students during their stay in Australia." For each principle, a series of concrete measures are outlined. For instance, enhancing the human rights of international students is defined as including access to health care while in Australia, affordable places to live, access to safe public transportation and more.

 

October 15, 2012

Sylvester Oliver, who was until recently a professor and director of humanities at Rust College, is in jail facing charges that he raped a student, WREG News reported. Investigators said that the allegations stem from an incident a month ago, but that the student came forward two weeks later. David L. Beckley, president of the college, said via e-mail that the case is in the hands of the police department, but that Oliver "is no longer employed" by the college.

October 15, 2012

The University of Wyoming said it removed a controversial sculpture from campus on schedule and because of water damage. But The Casper Star-Tribune, based on e-mail records it obtained, said that the schedule was moved up amid concern about how the sculpture was offending the coal industry, legislators and donors. The large sculpture, "Carbon Sink: What Goes Around, Comes Around," featured coal and wood sinking into the earth, and was viewed by many as anti-coal. The e-mail records show university officials worried about the fallout from those criticizing the sculpture, and reaching out to let them know that the work was being removed. The e-mails also show considerable anger over the sculpture. An e-mail from Bruce Hinchey, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, said: "The next time the University of Wyoming is asking for donations it might be helpful to remind them of this and other things they have done to the industries that feed them before you donate.... They always hide behind academic freedom but their policies and actions can change if they so choose."

 

October 15, 2012

The University of Texas is planning today to officially join edX, which offers massive open online courses or MOOCs. Because the Texas announcement involves an entire system, it represents a major expansion of edX, which was founded by two universities (Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and was later joined by one other (the University of California at Berkeley). Coursera, another major MOOC provider, has been adding universities at a rapid pace. The Texas system plans to focus on general education and introductory-level courses for its MOOC offerings. Bloomberg reported that the University of Texas is paying $5 million to join edX.

 

October 12, 2012

Various studies have shown strong backing for President Obama among many academics, but a new survey finds Mitt Romney winning one college constituency. Asked whether they would prefer to sit next to Obama or Romney at a home football game, college football fans preferred Romney by a margin of 53 to 42 percent, USA Today reported. However -- and this could be crucial for Midwestern swing states -- Obama won a majority of fans in the Big 10.

 

October 12, 2012

Last month Inside Higher Ed introduced its Cartoon Caption Contest, and the response was overwhelming: Hundreds of you suggested captions or otherwise weighed in. Today we publish the second installment -- get those creative juices flowing -- and give you a chance to pick your favorite from among the three finalists we've chosen from the many submissions about September's cartoon. Remember: the winner of each month's contest wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Join the conversation.

October 12, 2012

Update: Robert A. Kennedy announced his resignation this morning as president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education in Connecticut. Kennedy said that controversy around decisions he had made had "become a distraction" to the work of getting the new system off the ground. The board's chairman, Lewis Robinson, said in a statement of his own that he had accepted Kennedy's resignation.

Pressure built on Thursday for the president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system to resign, the Connecticut Mirror reported, amid two weeks of intensifying controversy and confusion over leadership in the higher education system. Robert A. Kennedy, the first president of the recently created system, has been closely aligned with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, and has carried out an aggressive reform agenda that included a contentious plan to remake developmental education at public colleges. Last week, though, system leaders clashed with presidents of some of the state's community colleges over their future employment, and that paved the way to revelations that Kennedy had approved big raises for some system leaders.

In the wake of those revelations, leaders of the state board distanced themselves from Kennedy on Thursday, saying that they had not been informed about some of the system's decisions. That prompted a flood of news reports including non-supportive statements from Malloy and outright calls for Kennedy's resignations from legislators in both political parties. The system's board is scheduled to meet today.

October 12, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Jeff Clune of Cornell University reveals why the biology of life often takes a winding path through seemingly unnecessary developmental stages. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 12, 2012

More than 40 percent of students and recent graduates with high levels of student debt report that they never received the loan counseling required by federal law, according to a new survey released by NERA Economic Consulting and Young Invincibles. The overwhelming majority of such students favor recent Education Department initiatives to standardize aid award letters so students have a better idea of college costs, and what they may need to borrow. Far too many student borrowers "lack adequate counseling and do not understand basic student loan terms," said Rory O’Sullivan, policy director at Young Invincibles and co-author of a report on the survey.

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