Students in education courses are given consistently higher grades than are students in other college disciplines, according to a study published by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research Monday. The study, by Cory Koedel, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Missouri at Columbia, cites that and other evidence to make the case that teachers are trained in "a larger culture of low standards for educators," in line with "the low evaluation standards by which teachers are judged in K-12 schools."
Higher Education Quick Takes
It's time to feel old again. Beloit College has released its annual "mindset" list about the world view of the new class of freshmen (at least those enrolling straight from high school). Among the things to know about this year's frosh, according to the list:
- There has always been an Internet ramp onto the information highway.
- Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson could be their parents.
- Amazon has never been just a river in South America.
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show has always been available on TV.
- Andy Warhol is a museum in Pittsburgh.
The complete list is available here.
A business law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles has set off a debate over the appropriateness of the UCLA law school accepting a $10 million gift from Lowell Milken to create a business law institute, The New York Times reported. Lowell Milken is the younger brother of Michael Milken and worked with his more famous brother in the junk bond business. Michael Milken pleaded guilty to securities law violations when the government agreed to drop criminal charges against Lowell, but the Securities and Exchange Commission barred both brothers from the securities industry. Lowell Milken never admitted wrongdoing in these cases.
Lynn A. Stout, a business law professor, wrote to senior officials saying: “The creation of a Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy will damage my personal and professional reputation, as I have devoted my career to arguing for investor protection and honest and ethical behavior in business." Many other UCLA professors, the Times reported, have no problem with the gift.
A state judge on Monday ordered Central Michigan University's faculty to return to the classroom, The Detroit News reported, backing a request by university officials for a temporary restraining order halting the strike called Sunday by the faculty union. In a statement posted on the Central Michigan website, university administrators said they expected "all faculty members will comply with the judge’s order immediately so the university can resume normal operations and we can provide the high-quality education our students expect and deserve." After one day on the picket line, sometimes joined by students, leaders of the Faculty Association said they would do so, but they said that their drive for what they consider a reasonable contract will not end. "We will obey the court order and return to work tomorrow," said Laura Frey, president of the union. "The faculty remains strong and committed to securing a fair and equitable contract for members."
The Faculty Senate of Southern University at Baton Rouge has rejected a request to approve furloughs for professors, and to shorten the time required before jobs may be eliminated, The Advocate reported. The vote followed statements from President James Llorens that he is likely to ask the Southern board to declare financial exigency in the next week, unless he could get furloughs accepted. That would allow the university, among other things, to dismiss tenured professors. Faculty leaders said that more money could be saved with administrative cuts before furloughs would be needed or declaring financial exigency would be appropriate.
James Perry retired as dean and chief executive officer of the University of Wisconsin Fox Valley campus this year. Gannett Wisconsin Media reported that the retirement was under strong pressure, following alleged inappropriate conduct while accompanying those on a three-week study abroad trip in Namibia. According to documents obtained by the news service, Perry "drank, swore, made crude remarks to women on the trip, overstepped his authority and got into a physical altercation with an assistant professor and a student." He was then given the choice of retirement or return to the faculty. Perry said that the incidents in Namibia were not as bad as the report made them sound, and he characterized them as nothing more than "a shouting match." But he added that he realized retirement was a good option. "I just know how things go," he said. "Once something gets messed up, it's hard to kind of back out and rethink things. It's just better if everybody says, 'OK, that's enough. Let's just call it a good career.' "
Drexel University has called off plans to build an undergraduate campus in California, far from the institution's Philadelphia home, The Sacramento Bee reported. Drexel has started (and plans to continue) graduate programs in Sacramento. The undergraduate campus was to have been financed by a donation of land that would have been developed. But real estate values have fallen sharply, making the plan's underlying assumptions no longer valid, officials said.
Pope Benedict XVI used a speech to university professors in Madrid on Friday to denounce the pressures on higher education to focus on job skills as opposed to a broader education. "At times one has the idea that the mission of a university professor nowadays is exclusively that of forming competent and efficient professionals capable of satisfying the demand for labor at any given time. One also hears it said that the only thing that matters at the present moment is pure technical ability," he said. "This sort of utilitarian approach to education is in fact becoming more widespread, even at the university level, promoted especially by sectors outside the university. All the same, you who, like myself, have had an experience of the university, and now are members of the teaching staff, surely are looking for something more lofty and capable of embracing the full measure of what it is to be human. We know that when mere utility and pure pragmatism become the principal criteria, much is lost and the results can be tragic: from the abuses associated with a science which acknowledges no limits beyond itself, to the political totalitarianism which easily arises when one eliminates any higher reference than the mere calculus of power. The authentic idea of the university, on the other hand, is precisely what saves us from this reductionist and curtailed vision of humanity."
The full text of the address is available from Vatican Radio.
McGill University has found a way to keep the tuition of its M.B.A. program at $29,500 -- a huge increase from the previous rate of $1,700 and a shift that had Quebec threatening to hold back funds from the university. McGill has said that the program does not depend on provincial funds and should be able to set rates comparable with top international programs. The Globe and Mail reported that by designating its program as one focused on international business, McGill has turned its M.B.A. into specialized program not covered by the province's standard tuition rules.