Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 12, 2012

William C. Friday, who led the University of North Carolina for three decades and was as close as anyone to being the prototypical college president who was also a national leader, died today at 92. Friday's long and storied career touched most of the major issues in higher education, from academic freedom to integration to big-time college sports, and his personal grace and political instincts proved formidable tools to enable him to handle them deftly. More on Friday's life and career will be published Monday.

In the meantime, here is an appreciation of Friday by a longtime aide and an expert on academic leadership, Art Padilla. And here are some of the news articles and tributes to Friday that have been published in his home state.

October 12, 2012

Harvard Law School, which for the past six years has conducted phone interviews with applicants for admission, is switching to videoconferencing. The law school also said that it wants to expand the number of applicants interviewed. "The interviews will give applicants additional opportunities to present themselves, and also to engage with folks here and learn more about the school,” said a statement from Jessica Soban, chief admissions officer. "We expect that these face-to-face conversations will offer candidates a more personal and satisfying way to let the Admissions Office learn about their strengths."I sent harvard a buncg of questions, like how many applicants will get these, will they all have a shot, etc. and the law school is working on answers, so hope to add detail -sj

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 11, 2012

Much of the work of the HathiTrust (a consortium of universities) to make books in university collections more easily searchable and accessible to people with disabilities is protected by "fair use" and is not subject to a copyright suit brought by authors' groups, a federal judge has ruled.

"The totality of the fair-use factors suggest that copyright law’s 'goal of promoting the progress of science ... would be better served by allowing the use than by preventing it," said the ruling by Judge Harold Baer Jr. "The enhanced search capabilities that reveal non-copyright material, the protection of defendants’ fragile books, and, perhaps most importantly, the unprecedented ability of print-disabled individuals to have an equal opportunity to compete with their sighted peers in the ways imagined by the [Americans With Disabilities Act] protect the copies made by defendants as fair use...."

The judge added: "Although I recognize that the facts here may on some levels be without precedent, I am convinced that they fall safely within the protection of fair use such that there is no genuine issue of material fact. I cannot imagine a definition of fair use that would not encompass the transformative uses made by Defendants’ MDP and would require that I terminate this invaluable contribution to the progress of science and cultivation of the arts that at the same time effectuates the ideals espoused by the ADA."

A blog post by James Grimmelmann, a professor at the New York Law School who has followed the case, said that "on every substantive copyright issue, HathiTrust won."

 

October 11, 2012

In the last year, some politicians and pundits have been questioning the value of a college degree, but data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau are the latest in a long series of statistics to demonstrate that college degrees have strong value in terms of lifetime earnings of recipients. The statistics focus on field of study and also document that certain majors on average result in much higher lifetime earnings than do other majors. In terms of the impact of bachelor's degrees, engineering degrees had the most payoff, while undergraduate majors in visual and performing arts, communications, education and psychology had the smallest payoffs. (A key caveat is that in some of those fields, graduate study is common and becomes the likely determinant of income.)

 

October 11, 2012

Mo Yan, the a pseudonym for the Chinese novelist and short story writer Guan Moye, was this morning awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature. "Through a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives, Mo Yan has created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition. In addition to his novels, Mo Yan has published many short stories and essays on various topics, and despite his social criticism is seen in his homeland as one of the foremost contemporary authors," said background material from the Nobel committee.

Several of his books are available in translation through university presses including: Change and Pow! (both from University of Chicago Press) and a collection of short stories in a bilingual Chinese and English edition from Columbia University Press.

 

October 11, 2012

College completion gets plenty of attention these days. But the challenges many students face in transferring from community colleges to four-year institutions is less visible, according to a new report from the American Association of Community Colleges. In addition to examining those challenges, the report looks at the role of transfer as a pathway to the bachelor's degree and the mobility of credits between institutions. For example, students are almost twice as likely to earn a bachelor's degree when all of their community college transfer credits are accepted by four-year institutions, according to the report, which was written by Christopher M. Mullin, the association's program director for policy analysis.

October 11, 2012

Gallaudet University placed its chief diversity officer on leave Wednesday, citing her decision to sign a petition endorsing a Maryland voter initiative designed to overturn the state's gay marriage law, the Associated Press reported. Angela McCaskill's signature on the petition was first reported in July, but on Wednesday, T. Alan Hurwitz, president of the Washington, D.C., university that specializes in educating the deaf, announced that he had placed McCaskill on paid administrative leave. "It recently came to my attention that Dr. McCaskill has participated in a legislative initiative that some feel is inappropriate for an individual serving as Chief Diversity Officer; however, other individuals feel differently," Hurwitz wrote. "I will use the extended time while she is on administrative leave to determine the appropriate next steps taking into consideration the duties of this position at the university."

October 11, 2012

Dozens of students at the University of South Alabama protested Wednesday over a recent deadly shooting by a police officer of a naked, unarmed student, the Associated Press reported. The police officer said that the student was charging at him. Since the death, authorities found that the student was on LSD at the time. Critics, including those at Wednesday's protest, said that the police should have used tasers or non-lethal force, and that the student -- by virtue of being naked -- was clearly unarmed. Others held a protest to back the police officer.

 

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