Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 25, 2013

The University of Pennsylvania will this week announce major gifts to support a new international strategy for the institution, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Penn plans to create a "world house" in 2015 through which world leaders and Penn faculty members will work to tackle major global problems. Each year, a new problem will be selected. While Penn does not plan to start branch campuses abroad, it is preparing to open a center in China for a range of activities, including faculty research and interviewing applicants.

 

February 25, 2013

Lincoln Memorial University last week told 13 faculty members, one of whom had taught at the university for 18 years, that their contracts would not be renewed after this academic year, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The job cuts are being made because of projected decreases in enrollment next year. The university's graduate education programs have enrolled many students from Georgia -- educators eligible for raises if they complete certain degrees. Georgia has changed its rules such that completing the programs at Lincoln Memorial will no longer make people eligible for raises. Lincoln Memorial does not have tenure, so faculty members work on year-to-year contracts.

 

February 25, 2013

Emory University had hoped to highlights its library's ties to the civil rights movement on Friday at a reception to mark the opening of an exhibit of papers housed at the library from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. But students -- still angry over President James Wagner's essay suggesting that the Constitution's three-fifths compromise was a model for dealing with disagreements -- saw an opportunity to protest. As guests arrived at the reception, they had to walk by students standing in silence, holding signs that said “We are Emory,” “We are sorry,” “I deserve 5/5 respect,” “Ethics is not a brand" and "This is 5/5 outrageous," Atlanta Magazine reported.

February 22, 2013

The College Humor website has announced the winners of its $5,000 Average Student Scholarships. The biographies of winners won't be confused for those who receive Rhodes Scholarships. One winner was lauded this way: "His G.P.A. of 2.083 barely hovers over the disgraceful 1.9, and one more misstep would send him tumbling down a cliff that'd be hard to climb out of." Another was praised for her culinary habits. "In her sad and slightly disturbing video entry, Jordan munches on a brick of uncooked Ramen like that's something normal people actually do." More information on the award winners may be found here.

February 22, 2013

Some of the students most often targeted in the push to use online learning to increase college access are less likely than their peers to benefit from -- and may in fact be hurt by -- digital as opposed to face-to-face instruction, new data from a long-term study by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College suggest.

"Adaptability to Online Learning: Differences Across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas," by Di Xu and Shanna Smith Jaggars, researchers at the center, examines the performance of nearly 40,000 Washington State community college students who took both online and on-ground courses, and finds significant differences in how various subgroups performed. Students of all types completed fewer courses and achieved lower grades online than they did in face-to-face classes, men, African-Americans, and academically underprepared students had the biggest gaps between the two mediums.

The performance of adult students was mixed: they completed slightly more courses online, but achieved slightly lower grades in them than they did in on-ground courses.

February 22, 2013

A white paper from HCM Strategists released today -- the latest in a series of reports on redesigning the federal financial aid system sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation -- calls for simplifying the federal student aid programs into one grant, one loan and one tax credit aimed at nontraditional students, as well as investing in research and pilot programs to further improve student aid. The report, written by several financial aid experts, would also redefine full-time status as 15 credits per semester rather than 12, in an effort to provide incentives to students to complete college, and base repayment for all student loans on borrowers' incomes.

The report accompanies an earlier white paper from the public policy consulting group stating broad principles for redesigning federal financial aid.

February 22, 2013

James Beckwith, formerly interim president and chief financial officer of Southern Vermont College, killed himself Wednesday, with federal authorities charging that he embezzled $440,000 while serving as interim president, The Bennington Banner reported. Beckwith resigned suddenly as CFO this month, apparently when the college learned of the allegations. Authorities said that he took college money while serving as interim president.  A statement on the college's website expressed condolences to Beckwith's family and said: "This is a difficult and sad time for all who knew Jim. His many contributions to our community will be remembered."

 

February 22, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Suzanne Wagner of Michigan State University explores the connection between the use of non-standard English and choices about higher education. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

February 22, 2013

Northwestern University has appointed a panel of professors to review the history of John Evans, one of the university's founders, and his links to a massacre of Native Americans. Several professorships are named for Evans, as is the city of Evanston, where Northwestern is located. Evans was governor of the Colorado Territory (after the university's founding) at the time of the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre of Native Americans, and many Indian students and others question the appropriateness of honoring him at the university.  The committee -- a mix of professors from Northwestern and elsewhere -- will study the role Evans played in the massacre, and "whether any financial support for Northwestern from Evans could be attributed to wealth he obtained as a result of policies and practices he pursued while territorial governor regarding the Native American populations there."

February 21, 2013

Faculty members in Emory University's College of Arts and Sciences voted Wednesday to censure President James Wagner for his remarks seeming to endorse the Constitution's three-fifths compromise as a model for dealing with disagreements. While Wagner has since apologized for the "clumsiness" of his statement, many faculty members and students remain furious about his remarks and unimpressed by the apology. Faculty members said that the censure resolution passed on a voice vote, with strong support. The professors considered a vote of no confidence, but postponed consideration of that measure pending an appearance by Wagner. His spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment on the censure vote.

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