Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

A teaching assistant at Canada's York University has apologized for critical comments she posted on her Facebook page about her students, The Toronto Star reported. The comments, now removed, said: “My student’s papers are making me dumber, so very stupid; by the minute. Please, make them, stop. They are infecting me with there huge and apparent stupidity, and I fear they will start to effect in my opinion the way I myself right papers (sic).”

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

Alexandra Wallace, who made a now notorious video mocking and complaining about Asian students, announced Friday that she is leaving the University of California at Los Angeles, because of death threats and ostracism, the Los Angeles Times reported. She has apologized several times for the video and did so again in announcing her departure. Also on Friday, UCLA announced that while it had denounced the video, it had no plans to take disciplinary action against Wallace because her actions did not violate the campus code of conduct.

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

U.S. News & World Report announced on Friday that it is pulling some of its rankings of engineering programs due to "several database errors." The previous year's rankings will remain in place, the magazine said. "Because year-to-year changes in these rankings are usually marginal, we don't feel that the outcome is substantial to our readers. However, we know that a one- or two-place change can be important to the institutions involved, and we apologize for any problems or confusion this has caused," said the statement. The specialty areas that were replaced by last year's rankings were the following engineering fields: aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical; bioengineering/biomedical; chemical; electrical/electronic/communications; environmental/environmental health; materials; and nuclear.

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

Significant cuts in Georgia's popular but expensive HOPE scholarships (which primarily help those at public institutions) have some educators and politicians raising questions about why state funding for programs that help private colleges is remaining stable, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Private college officials note that the funds they receive for educating Georgians free up space at public institutions for other students. But that argument isn't going over at a time of big cuts for HOPE. “It is clear the current political leadership in this state tilts toward private education over public education,” said State Senator Nan Orrock.

Monday, March 21, 2011 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, John Mutter of Columbia University’s Earth Institute reveals that in the wake of a natural disaster, the poor often face a unique set of challenges to survival and recovery. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

For the second year in a row, more students finishing their programs at medical schools in the United States have obtained residencies in family medicine. The number is up by 11 percent from 2010. A major goal of many medical educators and experts in recent years has been to shift more medical students into such general kinds of medicine and away from specialties.

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The National Association for College Admission Counseling on Thursday released a report on very early admissions -- those that take place before the start of high school students' senior years. NACAC has discouraged such admissions offers, saying that they are not good for the applicants -- even if they get admissions offers. The association's policies say that admissions offers should not be made until after transcripts are recorded for the second semester of students' junior years. The report found that only a minority of colleges (7 to 15 percent) engaged in such early admissions programs, and that there was some confusion about which policies the association was encouraging. Several years have passed since the data were collected, so it is possible that that the proportion of institutions offering very early admission is even smaller today.

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

With concerns growing about safety in Japan, Temple University announced Thursday that it is evacuating the 200 students it has in a program in Tokyo. American staff members are also being given the option of coming to the United States, but one of them -- Dean Bruce Stronach -- has opted to stay.

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Joseph Reynolds of Monmouth University explains the increase in coastal wildlife activity that accompanies the onset of spring. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Education Secretary Arne Duncan reiterated a call he made last year for the National Collegiate Athletic Association to require that colleges participating in the Division I men's basketball tournament have players on track to graduate at a minimum rate. Duncan increased his plea from a minimum expected graduation rate of 40 percent to a rate of at least 50 percent, after a report found low expected graduation rates among some of the teams in the tournament this year and vast disparities between the rates of black and white players.

The report, conducted by Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida, found that 66 percent of the players on teams participating in the men's tournament are expected to graduate. But the report found "alarming" differences in graduation rates among competing colleges and racial groups. At Kansas State University, 100 percent of white players are expected to graduate, compared with 14 percent of black players. Such findings are “unconscionable,” said Duncan, who suggested the NCAA use the Academic Progress Rate to judge colleges on their students’ expected graduation rates, preventing institutions with an anticipated graduation rate below 50 percent from going to the NCAA tournament. “The big kahuna is the opportunity to go to the tournament,” he said. “So if we draw a clear line there, a bright line in the sand, then behavior will change.”

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