Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 3:00am

Government officials in Togo have shut the University of Lome, the country's largest university, following student protests, the Associated Press reported. Students have been demanding better food and reconsideration of a new curriculum for which they say they are not prepared.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 3:00am

Jim Tressel resigned as Ohio State University's football coach on Monday, ending weeks of steadily mounting pressure on both him and the university in the wake of revelations that Tressel failed to act despite knowing that players had violated National Collegiate Athletic Association rules. Ohio State announced in March that it had suspended and fined Tressel for failing to tell administrators or the NCAA that players had sold team memorabilia and received free tattoos worth thousands of dollars. Although Tressel's two-game suspension grew to five to equal the penalty the NCAA imposed on players, Ohio State had come under increasing pressure to dismiss the coach for his role in the embarrassing scandal. And it appears that it was about to get much worse for Tressel, as Sports Illustrated reports that it had informed Ohio State officials Saturday of a pending investigation showing that the violations at Ohio State were much broader and went on for much longer than the university has acknowledged. In a videotaped statement Monday, Gene Smith, the athletics director, said that Tressel had emerged from a discussion between the two Sunday night persuaded that resigning was in his and Ohio State's best interests.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 3:00am

Spending on "529" savings plans for college is up 75 percent in the last two years, the Los Angeles Times reported. The state-sponsored plans provide tax breaks for contributions to various investment funds. The article attributed the surge to continued concern among families about college costs, but also to renewed confidence in the possibility of making money through investments.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 3:00am

The Faculty Senate at Cornell University voted this month to stop releasing median grades in courses, as the university has done since 1998. The vote followed research finding that students were using the information to select courses with higher median grades. Median grades will still be available to deans, department chairs and those doing research requiring the information.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 3:00am

Backlash continues against the news that some colleges are paying big bucks for graduation speakers. Legislation has been introduced in New Jersey that would deduct from a state appropriation to a public college or university the size of any fee paid to a graduation speaker, The Star-Ledger reported. The move follows criticism of Rutgers University for paying author Toni Morrison $30,000 and Kean University for paying the singer John Legend $25,000 to appear this year. The universities say that students want big-name speakers. One of the legislators sponsoring the bill said that it should be "honor enough to be asked" to attract speakers.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jeanine Meyer of the State University of New York at Purchase explains the everyday importance of a basic understanding of mathematical concepts. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 3:00am

Five weeks after a tornado forced Shaw University to end its spring semester early, the institution started a summer session on Monday, The News & Observer reported. Student housing on campus is still not available, but Saint Augustine's College is offering housing to Shaw students, and Shaw is providing shuttles between the two campuses.

Friday, May 27, 2011 - 3:00am

The Executive Committee of the University Faculty Senate of the City University of New York passed a resolution of no confidence Thursday in the system’s provost, Alexandra Logue, and its Office of Academic Affairs for not seeking its advice in a comprehensive reform of student transfer between the system’s two- and four-year institutions. The effort would create a general education framework for all of the system’s institutions, causing some senior institutions to significantly trim their requirements. The overarching transfer agreement would guarantee that liberal arts and sciences courses taken for credit at any CUNY institutions be accepted for credit by any other CUNY institutions, even if an equivalent course exists at the transfer institution. The University Faculty Senate, a group representing all institutions but dominated by four-year faculty, argues that the reforms, as initially written, “would have undermined educational quality and threatened the accreditation of many CUNY programs.” It also argues that a recent revision of the transfer proposal, done with what it feels was insufficient faculty input, “still does not adequately provide for student transfer in a way that safeguards the quality of general education at CUNY.” In response, Jay Hershenson, system spokesman, wrote in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed: "Allowing transfer students greater access to quality course choices is a big change from a highly prescriptive out-of-the-mainstream system installed in the last century. But the students deserve our support and commitment to academic quality."

Friday, May 27, 2011 - 3:00am

Swarthmore College is offering a special service for Spanish-speaking family members of graduates. They will be able to use wireless headsets to receive simultaneous translation of the commencement ceremony into Spanish, the Associated Press reported. Students suggested the idea as a way to enable all family members to follow the events.

Friday, May 27, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Philip Fernbach of Brown University reveals that when it comes to proving a point, weak evidence is often worse than no evidence at all. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

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