Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, January 24, 2011 - 3:00am

North Carolina's State Board for Community Colleges voted Friday to permit community colleges in the state to bar the enrollment of students who may pose a significant health or safety threat, The Charlotte Observer reported. It remains unclear how the colleges would define the threats that rise to the level that students should be barred from enrolling. The move follows the news that the man accused of the deadly Tucson rampage this month had been a student at Pima Community College.

Monday, January 24, 2011 - 3:00am

The Louisiana Board of Regents is moving ahead with a study of a possible merger of Southern Louisiana at New Orleans and the University of New Orleans, by hiring an outside consultant to prepare an analysis of the idea by March 1, in time for legislative consideration, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, called for consideration of the merger, citing the low graduation rates and shrinking enrollments of the two institutions. But the plan is controversial, in part because Southern is a historically black institution -- and many advocates for black students in Louisiana believe that the institution has never been treated equitably and deserves to be built up. Louisiana's Legislative Black Caucus has denounced the merger idea as a plan for the "systematic demise" of the state's historically black colleges. Also last week, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, a national group of historically black colleges, issued a statement criticizing the proposal. The statement noted that a legislative commission recently considered and rejected the merger idea, finding that the institutions have different and important missions. "Now is not the time to destroy, but rather to strengthen the Southern University System," says the NAFEO statement.

Monday, January 24, 2011 - 3:00am

As social media tools are increasingly used to respond to scientific papers published in peer-reviewed journals, many researchers are frustrated, according to an article in Nature. "Papers are increasingly being taken apart in blogs, on Twitter and on other social media within hours rather than years, and in public, rather than at small conferences or in private conversation," the article says. It goes on to quote many others who say that speedy response (even if of varying reliability) is actually a huge improvement over a system of waiting a long time for criticism of published articles.

Monday, January 24, 2011 - 3:00am

More than two-thirds of the people appointed to the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees by the current governor and previous governor were campaign donors to the men who selected them, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The practice is not unusual or illegal, the article noted, and some in the state say there is nothing wrong with it. But others say that as board members become increasingly involved in difficult financial and academic questions facing the university system, the pattern raises questions about whether the most qualified people are being appointed.

Monday, January 24, 2011 - 3:00am

Thousands of Dutch students protested Friday against planned government cuts to universities, Dutch News reported. Students have particularly objected to plans to both increase tuition rates and cut government subsidies to universities for students who take longer than normal to graduate.

Friday, January 21, 2011 - 3:00am

Development officers of schools and colleges are projecting that 2010 totals for giving will represent a 3.7 percent increase over the prior year, and that 2011 will see gains of 5.6 percent in giving, according to a survey released by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. CASE's president, John Lippincott, said in a statement about his members: "Clearly, they are becoming more confident about the capacity and willingness of donors to support education. It is also very reassuring to see predicted growth rates that approach the average for the past 20 years."

Friday, January 21, 2011 - 3:00am

First- to second-year retention rates are edging up at community colleges, and down at four-year colleges, according to an analysis released Thursday by ACT. The rate at community colleges is now 56 percent, a record high for the sector, up from 53 percent in 2005. At four-year institutions, the rate is now 72 percent, down from 75 percent in 2005.

Friday, January 21, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Connecticut is calling off all official events associated with weekend parties just before finals, and is barring guests from the dormitories that weekend, the Associated Press reported. The move follows years of controversy over the parties (many of which are organized independently of the university). A junior died last year after being punched during the weekend.

Friday, January 21, 2011 - 3:00am

The Republican Study Committee -- a G.O.P. caucus focused on cutting federal spending -- on Thursday unveiled its plans to cut the deficit, and a number of programs of importance to scholars would be eliminated under the proposal. Among them are: the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, Woodrow Wilson Center, and applied research supported by the Department of Energy. In addition, the bill would cut all the programs proposed (unsuccessfully) for elimination last year in the "Priorities in Education Spending Act." That bill would have eliminated many fellowship and scholarship programs for specific fields of study, as well as grant programs in such areas as veterinary medicine, and the education in math and science of Alaska Natives or Native Hawaiians.

Friday, January 21, 2011 - 3:00am

Past and future budget cuts have been the focus of this week's meetings of the University of California Board of Regents. But The San Francisco Chronicle noted that amid discussion of cuts and even an inability to admit all eligible students, the regents approved $4 million in incentive pay and raises, including 10 percent raises for three executives earning more than $200,000. A spokesman said: "Whether a budget crisis or not, the university still has to be able to pay competitive salaries and incentives consistent with industry standards."

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