Higher Education Quick Takes
Many Australian academics are frustrated, to the point where they are considering leaving their current universities in the years ahead, according to a new report from the Center for the Study of Higher Education, at the University of Melbourne. Researchers conducted a survey of more than 5,000 faculty members for the project. Australian academics continue to have "a deep commitment to scholarship," the report says. But just under half of them believe that their workload is no longer manageable. And close to half of those who are in the middle or later stages of their careers say that workload issues are sources of "considerable personal stress." Younger faculty members are more likely, the report says, to be frustrated by issues of job security and pay.
Two top administrators are leaving their positions at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, amid reports of possible conflicts (in one case) with President Shirley Jackson, The Albany Times-Union reported. Jackson has long had a contentious relationship with faculty leaders. Those leaving their positions include Provost Robert Palazzo, who is returning to the faculty, and Laban Coblentz, chief of staff and associate vice president, who left suddenly and with no public explanation. The Times-Union reported that he left because he had criticized Jackson and her administration, and university officials declined to comment.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities is today announcing a new project to work with state systems and individual colleges and universities so that faculty members and state system leaders and assessment experts can test ways to assure that students demonstrate achievement of key competencies. Funds for the program come from the Lumina Foundation for Education, and the project represents a beta test of Lumina's Degree Qualifications Profile.
The state systems in the new effort are in California, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Oregon, Utah, Wisconsin and Virginia.
The University of British Columbia has started a campaign to raise $1.5 billion -- more than has been raised in any Canadian university campaign -- by 2015. The university has already raised just over half of that amount in the quiet phase of the campaign. Other Canadian universities are also the midst of major campaigns. McGill University is nearing its goal of $750 million.
The University of New Hampshire will continue to sell energy drinks, after all. The university had announced in a Monday morning press release that it would stop selling the beverages in its convenience stores and vending machines in January, but then backtracked with an evening release saying that President Mark Huddleston had suspended the ban indefinitely. He'd seen "conflicting evidence" regarding the drinks' health effects, he said, and wanted to involve students in the decision. Another press release sent out Thursday afternoon said Huddleston had nixed the ban completely. He announced the decision to students via his Twitter feed, saying, "After review, UNH will NOT ban the sale of energy drinks. We want students to make their own choices, and be smart and informed consumers."
Florida International University faced a dilemma this semester when more students applied for and were qualified for work-study than had been expected, and funds were short. The university responded with program cuts that affected 600 students. But The Miami Herald reported that students responded with letters, Facebook posts and other statements about the impact of the cuts. The university has now found an additional $1.5 million in other funds to add to the program, eliminating the need for the cuts.
With Nobel Prizes being awarded next week, the Ig Nobels (an annual spoof) were awarded Thursday night. Among this year's winners: In physiology, the scholars behind the paper "No Evidence of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise," and in chemistry, the research team that determined "the ideal density of airborne wasabi (pungent horseradish) to awaken sleeping people in case of a fire or other emergency, and for applying this knowledge to invent the wasabi alarm." The complete list of winners may be found here.
The former chancellor of City College of San Francisco pleaded guilty last week to charges that he made illegal campaign donations to try to win support for bonds for the institution, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Philip R. Day Jr., who stepped down as president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators in 2009 after the charges against him became public, agreed to pay $30,000 in fines to resolve the allegations, the newspaper reported.
Officials involved in running the SAT program have called this week's arrest of an Emory University student on charges that he took the exam, for pay, for six Long Island high school students an isolated incident. But The New York Times reported that some prosecutors and others see a broader problem. The prosecutor said that she is investigating two other high schools and other test-takers, and that she believes the problem is "systemic." School officials said that they agreed.
In today’s Academic Minute, A.G. Rud of Washington State University examines the philosophy
behind the well-known, and not so well-known, actions of Albert Schweitzer. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.