Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 21, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Tom Mitchell of Carnegie Mellon University introduces us to NELL, a language learning computer. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


January 21, 2014

The Education Department, citing weather conditions, has canceled its “technical symposium” on the proposed college ratings system that was scheduled for Wednesday, according to an email sent to presenters Tuesday morning. Officials have rescheduled the daylong, public meeting for February 20. 

The symposium was set to take place at the department’s K Street offices in downtown Washington, D.C., where a winter storm warning was in effect on Tuesday and the National Weather Service forecasted three to seven inches of snow. Federal government offices were also closed Tuesday.

The meeting is expected to feature more than a dozen “technical experts” who will make presentations based on the department’s December request for information on how it should develop metrics for a ratings system.  

January 20, 2014

Faculty members are raising questions about the value of a consultant -- hired for $1.1 million, primarily with no-bid contracts -- at the University of Louisville, The Courier-Journal reported. University administrators say that they are finding ways to save money, and that only some preliminary recommendations have been released. But professors say that the analyses that have been released seem obvious and not worth the money. Some of their examples come in reports stating that  the university's “greatest strength is the quality of our people” and that the university “must be globally engaged to be a leading institution of the 21st century.”

January 20, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Friday that the State Department in conjunction with the private sector had raised an initial $3.65 million in support of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative, which aims to dramatically increase two-way student exchange between the U.S. and Latin America and the Caribbean by 2020. ExxonMobil, Santander Bank, and the Coca-Cola, Ford, and Freeport-McMoRan Cooper & Gold Foundations are the initial donors to the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund, which aims, in Kerry’s rewards, to  “help universities develop greater capacity to support study abroad” and to “challenge and reward institutions to find innovative ways to spur greater exchanges.”

The first four institutions to receive grants through the fund, also announced on Friday, are:

  • The University of Arizona, which aims to create an umbrella organization for science, technology, engineering and mathematics-focused exchanges with the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Perú, in Lima, and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, in Santiago;
  • The University of North Texas, which plans to use the funding to enable 30 undergraduate and 20 graduate students to travel to Chile to participate in field courses, research experiences and internships;
  • The University of Rhode Island, which plans to expand upon its long-standing International Engineering program in partnership with the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaiso, in Chile; and
  • Northampton Community College, which intends to develop a six-week, study abroad service learning course in collaboration with Universidad Nacional de Trujillo, in Peru, and the nonprofit organization WindAid
January 20, 2014

Nearly 59 percent of campuses have policies that "clearly and substantially" restrict students' protected speech, according to an annual report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and another 36 percent have policies that "overregulate" speech on campus. Private colleges, which are not legally bound by the First Amendment, fare slightly worse in the report; about 62 percent of those campuses substantially restrict student speech, compared to 58 percent of public campuses. However, the percentage of campuses seriously restricting speech is down 17 percent from six years ago, the report says.

January 20, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Harold Gouzoules of Emory University explains the psychology of screaming in humans and other primates. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


January 20, 2014

East Tennessee State University and Loyola University Maryland are both monitoring a possible case (one at each campus) of meningitis. The Loyola case involves a student who has been hospitalized, The Baltimore Sun reported. At East Tennessee State, the university announced that the case involves a dining employee, but not one involved in food preparation or service.


January 20, 2014

You've heard of the elevator pitch? The business school of the University of British Columbia is trying out the elevator lecture, primarily as a marketing move, in which unsuspecting business people enter an elevator, only to find a professor there, ready to give a brief lecture while they ride to their floors. The university released video of David Hardisty, a consumer marketing professor, teaching while riding up.



January 20, 2014

Monash University, in Australia, announced this morning that it has been awarded the right to use a .monash domain, becoming the first university awarded the right to use its own name in that way. The news was confirmed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which governs such matters. The decision is part of a new program in which globally recognized brands may seek their own domains, rather than remaining in such domains as .edu, .com, etc. While the university plans a transition, it will continue to use a .edu.au domain.


January 17, 2014

The University of Wyoming's Board of Trustees on Thursday gave Interim President Richard McGinity the job on a permanent basis, seemingly bypassing a university bylaw requiring consultation with a faculty committee, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. McGinity has served as interim president -- effectively, by all accounts -- since the sudden resignation of Robert Sternberg after a truncated and controversial presidency. Some of the trustees -- who approved McGinity's appointment by a 9-to-3 vote -- said they believed the need for institutional stability outweighed the requirement for consultation.



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