Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

Raynard S. Kington, the new president at Grinnell College, said he was attracted to the institution by its commitment to social justice. The college has now announced a new award -- in which up to $300,000 will be awarded annually to honor people under the age of 40 who have demonstrated leadership in promoting positive social change. Up to three awards -- each splitting $100,000 between an individual and an organization committed to the individual's ideals of social justice -- will be made each year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Phoenix is eliminating 700 jobs through layoffs, primarily in admissions departments, the university's parent company, the Apollo Group, announced Monday. “In recent months, we have accelerated the shift in our approach to student admissions, and have refined our business model. These staffing reductions are intended to better align our operations with these business decisions," a Phoenix official told Barrons.com.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

Texas Christian University, in Fort Worth, Tex., accepted an invitation Monday to join the Big East Conference, effective summer 2012. TCU will become the conference's 17th member institution and the ninth to play football. The Big East primarily spans the Rust Belt, from the eastern portion of the Midwest into the Northeast. TCU will join the University of South Florida, which joined the conference in 2005, as the other geographical outlier in the conference. Many critics believe the TCU-Big East deal was struck to ensure that Texas Christian gains and the rest of the conference maintains their status as "automatic qualifiers" for the Bowl Championship Series, the controversial system that helps decide the national title winner in the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-A). This year, TCU's football team finished with a perfect 12-0 record in the regular season, but it still may not have the chance to play for a national title because it is a member of the Mountain West Conference, a "non-automatic qualifier." Monday's announcement follows a tumultuous season in college football in which many major conferences expanded beyond their traditional geographic boundaries, primarily for economic reasons.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - 3:00am

Hundreds of teaching assistants at the University of California have vowed to vote against a tentative contract deal negotiated on their behalf by their union, which is part of the United Auto Workers, The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported. Five members of the bargaining team for the union have endorsed the drive to reject the contract. The contract would provide some gains in pay and benefits, and the union leaders and its dissenters differ on whether those gains go far enough. The union's website offers reasons to approve the contract, while this site offers reasons to reject it.

Monday, November 29, 2010 - 3:00am

More universities are threatening to sue high schools that have similar logos or mascots, The New York Times reported. The article cited moves by Pennsylvania State University against a cougar found to be similar to a Nittany Lion -- even though the offending high school was 1,400 miles away, in Texas. The University of Texas at Austin, meanwhile, went after a Kansas high school whose logo was similar to a Longhorn design.

Monday, November 29, 2010 - 3:00am

Just as campus health officials are celebrating their efforts to stop distribution of Four Loko, a new "mixed" product may be gaining ground among students. WFTV News reported that the hot product among students at the University of Central Florida is Whipped Lightning, which boasts that it is the "world's first alcohol-infused whipped cream." As with Four Loko, the concern is that students are especially prone to excessive alcohol use if they aren't completely aware of what they are consuming. Liquor stores near the university are seeing the new whipped cream "fly off the shelves," WFTV reported. One student told the station why: "I think it's awesome, you can throw it on some Jell-O shots. It'd be fantastic."

Monday, November 29, 2010 - 3:00am

Kofi Lomotey last week announced his resignation as chancellor of Southern University's Baton Rouge campus on the eve of a possible board vote to oust him, The Baton Rouge Advocate reported. Lomotey had been in office only since 2008. He declined to comment on his decision and was praised by Southern system leaders. But the faculty voted no confidence in his leadership this month, citing his handling of budget cuts, among other issues.

Monday, November 29, 2010 - 3:00am

A new gay student organization at Cabrillo College wants to know why the student government president vetoed the use of funds for the group's first big event -- a prom for students who weren't able to take same-sex partners to their high school proms, The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported. The student government president says that he's not anti-gay, but that the group was "double dipping" because it was already receiving funds from another college source. But the gay student group notes that similar funding hasn't been a problem for other groups.

Monday, November 29, 2010 - 4:46pm

College boards at public and private institutions are still dominated by men, and about half of members have business backgrounds, according to two reports released Monday by the Association of Governing Boards. The survey of more than 700 institutions found men outnumbered women by more than two to one at both public and private colleges, noting that boards were about 70 percent male at private colleges and about 72 percent male at public institutions. More than 49 percent of public trustees come from business, compared with 53 percent with business backgrounds at private colleges. There has been a small shift in other areas of diversity since 2004. The membership of private boards was 11.9 percent racial and ethnic minorities in that year, compared with 12.5 percent in 2010. At public institutions, racial and ethnic minority representation grew from 21.3 percent to 23.1 percent during the same period.

Monday, November 29, 2010 - 3:00am

Students in Italy have been staging a series of dramatic protests across Italy -- breaking into the Italian Senate, sitting on railroad tracks, and so forth -- to protest government plans to reform higher education, The New York Times reported. Researchers have joined the protest, sleeping in sleeping bags on the roofs of some universities. The anger is over the lack of funds that has resulted in chronically overcrowded classes, the potential for new cuts, and government plans that critics say will make the problems worse. The government says its plans would provide financial rewards to institutions that perform well.

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