Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 3:00am

Academic staff members -- including non-tenure-track faculty -- have voted to unionize at the University of Wisconsin at Superior. The vote there was the latest in a series at Wisconsin campuses to unionize, despite the drive by Governor Scott Walker and legislative Republicans to end collective bargaining by system faculty members. The unions voted in at Superior and elsewhere in the system are affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. The vote at Superior was 89 to 5.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The men's baseball coach at Montreat College is getting grief (and some support) for offering a small athletic scholarship to a female pitcher, The Asheville Citizen-Times reported. Marti Sementelli, a pitcher from California, isn't talking and hasn't signed a letter of intent. But some athletes and alumni at Montreat have told the coach, Michael Bender, that they object. The coach told the newspaper: "I'm not trying to skirt away from this because I have given her this opportunity, and I knew that some of this would come with it. It's hard because I didn't really want to be known around Asheville for this; I kind of wanted to be known around Asheville for playing pretty good baseball.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The Yale University fraternity that shouted “no means yes, yes means anal” during a pledge initiation last fall has been all but banned from the campus. For violating Yale’s undergraduate regulations on “harassment, coercion or intimidation” and “imperiling the integrity and values of the university community,” the campus chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon is prohibited for five years from “conducting any fraternity activities on campus,” including recruiting, and from using Yale bulletin boards or e-mail to communicate with students. The sanctions also “severely limit its use of the Yale name in connection with the DKE organization.” The committee that issued the sanctions, which is charged with enforcing the undergraduate regulations, also formally recommended that the national fraternity organization suspend the chapter for five years.

Some students face additional punishments, but those are confidential under Yale and federal privacy laws. Yale College Dean Mary Miller said it is unusual to announce the committee's findings, but because the incident made a huge stir on the campus and attracted national attention, she sent a statement to all students and faculty of the college. The university itself is under federal investigation after a student complaint under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, alleged a sexually hostile climate on campus.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Tuesday that 909 teams have earned “public recognition awards” for their academic performance. These awards are given annually to teams that score in the top 10 percent in each sport using the Academic Progress Rate, an NCAA-developed score that shows how a team's athletes are faring with regard to academic eligibility to play and progress toward graduation. For the sixth year in a row, Yale University had the most teams recognized, with 23. By conference, the Ivy League had the highest number of teams honored, with 135. The next highest was the Patriot League, with 82. Four national champions from the 2009-10 season received “public recognition awards” for their academic performance: Duke University men’s basketball, Fairleigh Dickinson University women’s bowling, University of Michigan men’s gymnastics, and University of Denver women’s skiing. Full APR scores for all teams will be released May 24. Punishments for those teams with low scores will also be announced that day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Victoria Bussert of Baldwin-Wallace College links the surging popularity of musical theater to the success of shows like "Glee," and offers a reality check for aspiring stars. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Texas Board of Regents, facing a backlash from faculty members and others over its recent suggestions about research and faculty priorities, has pledged not to try to micromanage the system. But The Austin American-Statesman reported that even as such pledges were being made, one regent was sending off requests for individual faculty members' workloads, grade averages for each undergraduate course and student evaluations of instructors. The e-mails suggest a continued focus on metrics suggested for higher education by a think tank with close ties to Republican leaders in the state.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Major expansion plans for public higher education are relatively rare in these frugal times, but Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday proposed an $864 million expansion plan for the University of Connecticut Health Center, The Hartford Courant reported. The plan -- which would rely on a mix of bonds, private fund raising and other revenue sources -- would expand the enrollments of the university's medical and dental schools, add faculty slots, and create additional facilities. The governor stressed the job-creation aspects of the plan -- both the construction jobs in the short term and biomedical jobs in the long term.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 3:00am

The Institute for a Competitive Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a report Monday that explored the potential for innovation in higher education, mostly in the for-profit sector, and what it sees as the barriers, including federal regulation, constrained state budgets and accreditation policies. The report, "College 2.0: Transforming Higher Education through Greater Innovation and Smarter Regulation," promotes for-profit colleges and partnerships as well as some nonprofit innovations as solutions to increasing productivity, effectiveness and cost-efficiency and reaching the goal of being the world's best-educated country by 2020. It singles out several new ventures as examples, including StraighterLine, the company that offers online courses at a low price, and Western Governors University, the online competency-based nonprofit that state university systems in Indiana and Washington have recently embraced.

Margaret Spellings, the U.S. secretary of education under President George W. Bush who now serves as an adviser to the Chamber of Commerce, said the report, and an accompanying forum Monday, during which executives of for-profit colleges and others shared their thoughts on the role of for-profit institutions in innovation, were the beginning of an increased effort by the chamber to increase its visibility and activism on higher education issues.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 3:00am

A controversial plan to merge Southern University at New Orleans and the University of New Orleans appears to be headed to a very close vote this week in Louisiana's House of Representatives. The Times-Picayune reported that legislative leaders postponed a vote from Monday to Wednesday because a few lawmakers who support the merger were not present, and officials believe those votes could give them the two-thirds majority that the legislation needs to pass. The idea of a merger has been strongly backed by Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, and strongly opposed by advocates for Southern, a historically black institution.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Michael Stefanone of the State University of New York at Buffalo explains how the photos you post on social media sites influence how others see you, and in a way that is largely out of your control. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

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