Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 29, 2014

Universities should begin making patents and other industrial and commercial research count toward promotion and tenure, in an effort to stimulate such research nationwide, argues a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. "There is a fundamental disconnect between technology transfer activities and incentives for faculty members in terms of merit raises, tenure and career advancement," Richard B. Marchase, co-author and vice president for research and economic development at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in a news release. "Beyond the monetary benefit of licensing, which is small in most cases, there is presently little to no benefit to a faculty member's merit raises, tenure and career advancement."

The paper builds on a 2012 report from the National Research Council and other groups saying that business and industry have "largely dismantled large corporate research laboratories that drove American industrial leadership," and which argues that research universities must "fill the gap." In the new paper, called "Changing the Academic Culture: Valuing Patents and Commercialization Toward Tenure and Career Advancement," the authors argue that filling the research gap will entail changing the university "rewards culture" to value not only large research grants but also professors' patents and other commercial activities. Co-author Eric Kaler, president of the University of Minnesota, notes that this kind of work should not replace but "add to" traditional means of assessing scholarly activity. The paper's lead author is Paul R. Sanberg, senior vice president for research and innovation at the University of South Florida and president of the National Academy of Inventors. An abstract is available here.

April 28, 2014

South Carolina State University is running out of money, and lacks the funds to make payroll next month, The Times and Democrat reported. Officials said the university nearly was unable to make payroll this month, but was saved by a commission check from Sodexo, the dining services contractor, which nearly didn't get paid because the university owes Sodexo $2.3 million. The historically black university is appealing to the General Assembly for $13.6 million for current bills and those about to be faced by the institution.

April 28, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, D.J. Pisano, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at West Virginia University, explains his studies of the chemical elements present in space to unlock mysteries of the universe. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

April 28, 2014

Brown University President Christina H. Paxson on Saturday released a statement pledging that the university was committed to preventing sexual assaults of students and punishing any who commit sexual assault. She also said that the university was reviewing its policies. "We are committed to taking aggressive steps to ensure that our campus is safe for everyone and as part of that, policies and procedures designed to keep our campus safe must be open to continuous review," Paxson wrote. "Such a review was already planned for the coming academic year. We are accelerating that review and it will include significant input from students."

The letter came amid widespread criticism of the university for suspending but not expelling a student found guilty of sexual misconduct. The story has led to campus protest and social media groups accusing Brown of, in effect, going easy on a rapist. The accused student, who had been planning to return to Brown and how has insisted that the sexual incident involved was consensual, announced Saturday that he does not plan to return to the university.

 

April 28, 2014

A New York State elementary school has called off the traditional kindergarten show held at the end of the academic year. The reason, The Washington Post reported, was that officials said that they needed the time to help make their young charges "college and career ready."

April 28, 2014

Faculty members at the University of Michigan have issued an open letter arguing that administrators' salaries have skyrocketed in recent years, while pay for professors has increased only modestly, MLive reported. The letter calls for a full investigation of the issue. A spokesman for the university said officials would investigate.

 

April 28, 2014

Students at Illinois State University are protesting a $480,418 payout to Timothy Flanagan, who served as president for seven months before agreeing with board members that he should leave, The Chicago Tribune reported. He left amid an investigation of a confrontation with a grounds worker, although board members and Flanagan have (by mutual agreement) been silent over the reasons for his departure. Critics are questioning why, if it was appropriate for him to leave, he should get so much money. Students have carried signs at protests saying "Would you pay me to drop out?" and "Flanagan check = 10 full rides."

April 28, 2014

A new law school at Canada's Trinity Western University, in British Columbia, appeared to have won all necessary approvals last year to start -- despite criticism from human rights groups about the university's policy of barring students from having non-heterosexual sex. But a new round of opposition has emerged. Critics have gathered enough signatures on a petition to force a new vote by the Law Society of British Columbia, whose council had approved accreditation of the law school, The Globe and Mail reported. A vote by the larger membership could go the other way. And even if the law school holds on to its accreditation for British Columbia, its graduates will not be able to practice law in Ontario because that province's legal society voted Friday against recognition, CBC News reported. Nova Scotia's legal society has taken a similar position, although it also stated explicitly that if Trinity Western ends discrimination against gay people, its law school can be accredited so that its graduates could work in the province.

 

 

April 28, 2014

Doane College has announced that it will pay students and alumni who refer new students to the institution's School of Graduate and Professional Studies. Applicants will be asked to indicate whether they have been referred, and by whom. Once they enroll and pass their first course, Doane will provide a $100 college bookstore gift card to the person who made the referral. Those referring can't receive more than five gift cards per term.

 

April 28, 2014

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) has picked 14 institutions to participate in a "jumpstart" program for competency-based education. With funding the Lumina Foundation, the council will help the 14 colleges and universities develop degree programs that are based on competencies rather than the credit hour standard. The group includes community colleges and both public and private four-year universities.

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