Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 3, 2012

Dixie State College, in Utah, is considering changing its name to reflect its status as a university and is also considering an end to the "Dixie" part of its name at the same time, the Associated Press reported. The name reflects the identity of a group of 19th-century Mormon settlers from the South who wanted to turn Utah into a cotton-growing region. Advocates of a name change say that Dixie has associations with the slave-owning or segregated South, while defenders of the name say that it reflects Utah history and doesn't prevent the college from promoting equity and diversity.

December 3, 2012

The preeminence of American science and technology is at risk and requires "bold investments," according to a report issued Friday by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. The report notes that other countries are improving their research infrastructures, and that corporate support of research in the United States is increasingly focused on "near-term results," and not the basic research that can ultimately be more transformative.

Among the recommendations in the report;

  • Long-term growth in research and development spending such that it increases from 2.9 percent of gross domestic product to 3 percent.
  • New efforts by the administration and Congress to promote the "stability and predictability" of federal research support.
  • Immigration reform to make it possible for those from abroad who graduate with science and technology degrees to stay in the United States.
  • Significant improvements in science and technology education at the undergraduate level.

 

November 30, 2012

Representative George Miller, a California Democrat and the senior member of his party on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, has requested information from private student lenders about how they interact with borrowers, and has also asked the Government Accountability Office to examine problems with federal loan servicers. Republicans on the committee have also expressed concern about servicing problems in the past. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a report critical of some private lending practices in July.

November 30, 2012

Virginia Commonwealth University held a town hall meeting Thursday amid student concerns that the women's volleyball coach was fired for being gay, NBC 12 News reported. Students noted that the coach is popular, that the last season was a success and that reasons offered by the university for his ouster have been vague. Further, critics have noted that there have been two personnel changes in the athletic department since a new athletic director arrived -- the coach's dismissal and the demotion of another gay employee. University officials have denied wrongdoing, but said that they are investigating the allegations.

 

November 30, 2012

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote today on the STEM Jobs Act, a Republican-backed bill that would create up to 55,000 new visas for foreign graduates of American universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The bill would also eliminate the diversity visa lottery, which allocates spots to immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

This is a second attempt: a motion to suspend House rules in order to consider the STEM Jobs Act failed 257-158 in September. (Such a motion requires a two-thirds majority.) Although there is bipartisan support for increasing the number of visas available to foreign scientists who have been educated at U.S. universities, Democrats have opposed eliminating diversity visas. The White House announced its opposition to the Stem Jobs Act earlier this week. NAFSA: The Association of International Educators is also opposed to passage of the bill, which, the association says, "perpetuates a divisive, us-versus-them approach to immigration reform.”

“NAFSA supports the goal of creating a direct path to green cards for graduates of U.S. institutions of higher education, including but not limited to the STEM fields. Talented, innovative people are found in all fields, and all who are prepared to become productive members of our society and to contribute to our economy should be welcome. We do not support creating a new path for international students by eliminating another immigration program,” the association said in a statement on Thursday.

November 30, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Diana Deutsch of the University of California at San Diego discusses the genetic and cultural factors that give some people perfect pitch. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

November 30, 2012

Leila Ahmed, the Victor S. Thomas professor of divinity at Harvard University, has been named winner of the 2013 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion for A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence from the Middle East to America, published last year by Yale University Press. The award, worth $100,000, is sponsored by the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the University of Louisville.

 

November 30, 2012

Dartmouth College on Thursday named Philip J. Hanlon as its next president. Hanlon, a Dartmouth alumnus, is currently provost and professor of mathematics at the University of Michigan.

November 29, 2012

Reports have been circulating in China that the government may impose new rules on agents who recruit students for colleges in the United States and other countries, Voice of America reported. Increasing numbers of American colleges have been hiring agents, but the use of those paid in part on commission remains highly controversial. Chinese media outlets have recently been reporting on unscrupulous agents who have taken advantage of students.

 

November 29, 2012

Pasi Sahlberg, who directs Finland's Center for International Mobility and Cooperation, is today being named winner of the  2013 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Education for his 2011 book, Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? Sahlberg is also adjunct professor at the University of Helsinki and University of Oulu. The award is worth $100,000.
 

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