Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs needs to improve the outreach and support it provides to military veterans who receive federal education benefits, the Government Accountability Office said in a report on Wednesday. The report examined the agency's process for making veterans aware of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and other veterans' education programs and for ensuring that schools and veterans meet eligibility rules, among other things, and found room for improvement in some areas.

Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 3:00am

An appeals court has overturned an award of $2.5 million to a former associate controller at Florida International University who claimed he lost his job in a reorganization because of racial discrimination, The Miami Herald reported. The court found that the former employee failed to meet required standards of proof that racial discrimination was a factor. The university maintained that the reorganization -- which involved an entire division -- was based on problems with the old structure.

Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 3:00am

The revived Antioch College has announced its first three faculty hires. Faculty members and alumni of the institution that Antioch University shut down have been pushing for the rehiring of professors from the old Antioch College, while the administration has been insisting on new searches for all openings. Of the first three hires, two are finishing their doctorates, while one is a faculty member who taught at the previous Antioch and is now coming back.

Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 3:00am

Gov. Jerry Brown's announcement late Tuesday that budget talks with Republican leaders had reached a dead end -- seemingly dooming an effort to put extensions of tax increases before voters in June -- puts California's public colleges in a (more) dire situation, the institutions' leaders said. The University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges systems have warned that a budget solution that did not include voter-passed extensions of existing taxes would double the size of the already hefty cuts they are facing ($500 million for each of the two university systems and $400 million for the two-year institutions). With Brown ending talks with Republicans, he said, because they insisted on what he called an "ever-changing list of collateral demands" -- though political observers also said poll numbers were not looking favorable, either -- campus leaders spoke Wednesday as if the June ballot measure were dead. “Without a June special election on Gov. (Jerry) Brown’s tax extension proposal, the chance of an all-cuts budget is highly likely,” Jack Scott, chancellor of the community college system, said in a news release. “An $800 million reduction would be unprecedented and an absolute tragedy for our students, faculty and staff as well as a deep blow for our economy.”

Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 3:00am

An Associated Press survey of colleges' policies designed to prevent drug use by athletes has found them to be widely inconsistent. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has one set of rules, athletic conferences vary widely on their rules, and colleges are all over the place, the survey found.

Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 3:00am

As is the case just about every year, the most competitive private universities are announcing record numbers of applications and record low admission rates. This year's announcements include a 6.2 percent admit rate at Harvard University and a 7 percent rate at Stanford University. Amid all that rejection, Bloomberg noted that some alumni admissions interviewers at elite colleges and universities are quitting the once-coveted volunteer positions since so few of the people they interview actually get in.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Education Department announced Tuesday that it is fining Virginia Tech $55,000 for violations of federal laws in the university's response to the mass killings that took place there on April 16, 2007. The fine focuses on the university's failure to immediately warn students of the danger -- after the university learned of the first shooting. Virginia Tech officials have maintained that they acted based on the best information they had at the time, and that they did not realize the potential for the killings that would take place later in the day.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

Faced with a pending vote of no confidence, the president of Florida's Edison State College has agreed to reassign a senior administrator with whom faculty members said they could no longer work effectively, the Naples Daily News reported. The removal of James Browder as senior vice president was one of a series of concessions that President Kenneth Walker reportedly made after a Faculty Senate meeting at the Florida college boiled over and set up a vote of no confidence in Walker, the newspaper reported. Among the other concessions was an agreement to consider the re-hiring of another senior official, Steve Atkins, who resigned this month after Browder was promoted from a vice president's position.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Southern California may discipline the students involved in photographs -- which went viral Tuesday -- showing a couple having sex on the roof of a university building, the Los Angeles Times reported. University policy bars unauthorized access to the roofs of buildings. The photographs are available here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

Lynn Pasquerella, president of Mount Holyoke College, on Tuesday sent a letter to Governor Paul LePage of Maine to criticize his decision to remove a mural depicting Maine's labor history from the state Department of Labor building. Governor LePage said that the mural was too pro-labor. Pasquerella wrote that many Mount Holyoke alumnae were concerned about the situation because the mural includes Frances Perkins, an alumna who was a key figure in Maine and U.S. labor history. The governor also removed the Perkins name from a conference room in the labor building. "I was particularly surprised to read that you were influenced by an anonymous fax comparing the 11-panel mural to North Korean political propaganda, because the act of removing images commemorating Maine's history itself conjures thoughts of the rewriting of history prevalent in totalitarian regimes," wrote Pasquerella. "If the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. is housed in the Frances Perkins Building, why can't she be honored with a conference room in Augusta?"

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