Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 4, 2012

A feature in The Los Angeles Times describes a program at the University of La Verne in which children of migrant farm workers come to campus for a month in the summer to improve academic skills and to experience life at a college. Because many of these students don't have the stability of attending a single high school, and their families don't have much money, many face long odds against ever getting a higher education, which is why the university is focusing on reaching out to them. Adonay Montes, an assistant professor of education and the program director, said of the students: "They live the life of a college student here. We try to provide that experience so when they go back they know how to navigate the educational pipeline by being able to advocate for themselves."

September 4, 2012

Another faculty in Minnesota has weighed in on the November vote on the proposed amendment to the state constitution to ban gay marriage. During the first faculty meeting of the year, professors at St. Olaf College voted overwhelmingly to oppose the amendment. The college has said it will not take an official position on the issue, which another Lutheran college in Minnesota, Augsburg College, did in August.

September 4, 2012

A new obstacle has emerged for the business school of the University of California at Los Angeles, which has been pushing a "self-sufficiency plan" for its M.B.A. program, in which it would give up state funds in return for more independence. The plan, seen as privatization by critics, has been debated for some time. A vote by the UCLA faculty in June appeared to clear the way for final approval by the University of California system.

But a committee of the systemwide Academic Senate has now tabled the proposal to approve the plan. According to the committee, the system does not currently have any policy that would allow a program that is not self-supporting to become self-supporting. Lacking such a policy, the committee declined to approve the UCLA plan. Officials of the business school could not be reached to discuss the implications of this development.

August 31, 2012

Harvard University is investigating about 125 students -- nearly 2 percent of all undergraduates -- who are suspected of cheating on a take-home final during the spring semester, The Boston Globe reported Thursday. The students, who will appear before the college’s disciplinary board over the coming weeks, seem to have copied each other’s work, the dean of undergraduate education said. Those found guilty could face up to a one-year suspension. The dean would not comment on whether students who had already graduated would have their degrees revoked but he did tell the Globe, “this is something we take really, really seriously.” Harvard administrators said they are considering new ways to educate students about cheating and academic ethics. While the university has no honor code, the Globe noted, its official handbook says students should “assume that collaboration in the completion of assignments is prohibited unless explicitly permitted by the instructor.”

August 31, 2012

Richard C. Levin announced Thursday that he will step down as president of Yale University at the end of the current academic year, at which point he will have served in that role for 20 years. He is the longest serving president in the Ivy League and in the Association of American Universities. His tenure saw significant fund-raising gains, major renovations and expansions to Yale's campus and a much improved relationship with New Haven (which had seen considerable tensions prior to Levin's presidency). The Yale announcement details these and other accomplishments.

Under Levin, Yale stuck to its policy of opposing graduate student unions, and the administration faced criticism from union advocates. Levin also strongly backed a new Yale effort to open, together with the National University of Singapore, a liberal arts college in Singapore. Many faculty members have criticized the idea (which is going forward), raising questions about human rights in Singapore and whether faculty members at Yale were given an appropriate role in deciding whether to go ahead with the project.

August 31, 2012

The advanced education minister in British Columbia has sent a notice to universities, urging them to be vigilant that strip clubs may be trying to recruit students, Maclean's reported. "Students, who often feel new stresses due to new living environments and managing their own affairs for the first time, may be tempted by these monetary inducements," said the letter from the minister, Naomi Yamamoto. Her concern follows reports from Windsor, Ontario about strip club owners there offering to pay tuition for female students willing to strip -- and to maintain a B average in the courses.

 

August 31, 2012

British authorities have barred London Metropolitan University from enrolling foreign students, leaving currently enrolled students in a quandary and setting off concern among many British universities, Times Higher Education reported. Government investigators found that many foreign students at the university did not have authorization to be there, and that many of those who did lacked sufficient English language skills to benefit. The 2,600 students from outside Britain who are enrolled at London Metropolitan have 60 days to enroll at another university or to leave the country. Leaders from other universities in Britain said that they are worried that the incident will reflect on their institutions, and some questioned whether the government could have worked to find other ways to resolve concerns about London Metropolitan.

 

August 31, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Catherine Haslam of the University of Exeter reveals how our attitudes about our age can influence our performance on mental tasks. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 31, 2012

The American Political Science Association annual meeting should have been going strong today, but was called off because Hurricane Isaac hit the location, New Orleans. Some political scientists will not be deterred, however, from sharing their papers. Some are using the meeting's #APSA2012 hashtag to do so, while others are using a new hashtag, #VirtualAPSA2012. Still others are planning to use Google + "hangout" features to share and discuss papers. The Johns Hopkins University Press, which would have been in the exhibit hall of the meeting, created a virtual book exhibit.

 

 

August 31, 2012

The top two leaders of the agriculture college at the University of California at Davis (an institution long known for its agriculture programs) have resigned, The Sacramento Bee reported. Neal Van Alfen, the dean, and James D. MacDonald, executive associate dean, quit after Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi started a search for a new dean with two years left in Van Alfen's term as dean.

 

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