Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 14, 2013

When the Roman Catholic church's new leader, Pope Francis, until Wednesday Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, was announced Wednesday, presidents of Catholic colleges sent out statements praising the choice ("We are excited to move forward under the leadership of Pope Francis I and we pray that the Catholic Church will grow under his guidance in wisdom and Christ’s grace," John Garvey, president of the Catholic University of America, said. "And we hope to welcome him to our campus some day.") But because Pope Francis is a Jesuit priest -- and the first of the order, whose members are generally discouraged from seeking high office within the church, to lead the world's Catholics -- Jesuit colleges in particular were happy.

"It has been a truly historic day for the Society of Jesus as we learned that our brother, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was selected to lead the Catholic Church as Pope Francis I. As Jesuits, we emphasize social justice in our ministry, and we are gratified to have a leader who will continue to live out this mission on a global stage," said the Rev. Gregory F. Lucey, president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, in a statement. College presidents echoed the message: "Pope Francis, as he has chosen to be forever known, shares a special bond with Scranton and all Jesuit colleges and universities across the globe as the first member of the Society of Jesus to be so elevated," said the Rev. Kevin P. Quinn, president of the University of Scranton. "When I heard the news that a Jesuit brother of mine would be the next Pope I was completely stunned... But that surprise yielded quickly to a profound sense of gratitude," said the Rev. Michael J. Graham, president of Xavier University.

In his role in Argentina, Pope Francis was chancellor of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina. Early in his time as a Jesuit, he taught literature, psychology and philosophy, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

March 14, 2013

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation this week announced new investments in adaptive learning, an increasingly popular approach in higher education that blends individualized instruction, peer tutoring and automated applications that adjust to a student's skill level. Education Growth Advisors released a report, funded by Gates, which found that adaptive learning is spreading slowly despite its potential. And the foundation announced a planned $100,000 grant aimed at U.S. colleges that seeks to help them create partnerships to launch adaptive courses.

March 14, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Sanya Carley of Indiana University explains consumers’ attitudes about electric cars that are keeping many of the vehicles off the streets. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

March 14, 2013

The University of Colorado at Boulder on Wednesday announced the hiring of Steven Hayward as the first visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy. The position was created with $1 million in donations, and follows years of criticism of the left-leaning tilt on the Boulder faculty.  Hayward has taught at Georgetown and held positions at a number of think tanks, including the the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy. At Boulder, Hayward will teach constitutional law, American political thought and free-market environmentalism.

In a statement, Hayward called the creation of his position "a bold experiment for the university and me to see whether the ideological spectrum can be broadened in a serious and constructive way." He added that he hoped he would interact with students with a range of views. "Good teaching should make all students, of whatever disposition, better thinkers,” he said. “In the humanities, this should be done by considering fairly the full range of perspectives on a subject. That’s the way I intend to conduct classes while I am visiting at the university, and I hope that students of every kind of opinion will feel welcome in my classroom.”

March 14, 2013

The College of the Atlantic announced this week that its board voted to sell all fossil-fuel-related investments. The move follows a student push -- at that college and elsewhere -- to sell investments in companies whose businesses they believe are harmful to the environment. A spokeswoman for the college said that the total endowment is about $30 million and that the value of investments sold to comply with the policy was just under $1 million.

 

March 14, 2013

New research at York University in Canada both confirms and extends the concerns of many faculty members about laptop use in class. The research found that undergraduates who multitask on laptops comprehend less of what has been covered in a lecture than do other students. That part is unlikely to surprise most professors. But the study also examined students who were taking notes -- with some students sitting next to those who were multitasking on their laptops. Those next to a laptop multitasker also saw drops in what they picked up from the lecture. The findings have been published in the journal Computers & Education.

March 14, 2013

Officials in New York State have drafted plans to spin off the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering from the State University of New York at Albany, The Albany Times Union reported. The plan would make the nanoscale college its own specialized college, much like SUNY's College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The nanoscale college has been a major research success for SUNY, attracting considerable industry support. State and SUNY officials declined to comment on the plan, which would require several levels of approval.

 

 

March 13, 2013

More than 100 protesters marched to the Higher Education Ministry in Sri Lanka on Tuesday calling for an increase in the number of public universities, Xinhua reportedThe news service reported that more than 144,000 students pass the university entrance each year, but there are only spots for 22,000.

March 13, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Rebecca Fisher of the University of Arizona explains how a species of lizard is able to regenerate their self-amputated tails. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


 

March 13, 2013

The cost of tuition and living for international students in Australia has increased 166 percent since 2002, The Australian reportedAn analysis by the Boston Consulting Group estimates total annual costs for the average international student in Australia as being $44,000, compared to $37,000 for international students in the U.S. and $30,000 for those studying in England. The article cites exchange rates as one critical factor in the increase.

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