Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, March 14, 2011 - 3:00am

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday announced a new effort to work with leading women's colleges to encourage women around the world in the areas of leadership and public service. While details are minimal, Clinton said that the State Department would be working with the five "Seven Sisters" institutions that are still women's colleges: Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith and Wellesley Colleges. (She noted that the latter college is her alma mater.) "As a first step, we will host a conference this fall bringing policy makers, public officials, academics, innovative thinkers together from around the world to build these new global partnerships, so that once we’ve brought attention to an issue or a leader, we will be able to continue to build and support the work that is being done," she said. Clinton made the announcement at a summit on women's issues organized by the recently combined Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

Monday, March 14, 2011 - 3:00am

The board that governs Nevada's higher education system on Friday rejected the possibility of shutting campuses to close the enormous budget gap the system faces over the next two years, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Governor Brian Sandoval has proposed a nearly 30 percent cut in the budget for the Nevada System of Higher Education by 2013, and presidents of the system's campuses have laid out plans that would eliminate scores of academic programs and many hundreds of jobs, cut salaries and sharply increase student tuition and fees. But by an 8 to 5 vote, regents dismissed the alternative of closing campuses, amid opposition to the idea from students, college officials and local business leaders.

Monday, March 14, 2011 - 3:00am

Academic labor groups were horrified by the bill passed by the Ohio Senate this month, effectively denying collective bargaining rights to faculty members in the state, which has many unionized campuses. But some saw a little bit of a silver lining in that the text of the bill that circulated at the time suggested that the legislation would end state bans on collective bargaining by part-time faculty members or graduate students. It turns out, however, that those bans would stay in place. A final version of the bill that the Senate passed includes those restrictions -- suggesting that everyone who teaches at public colleges and universities would be barred from collective bargaining if the bill becomes law.

Monday, March 14, 2011 - 3:00am

The latest in a series of short-term spending bills that Congress will consider this week as lawmakers do battle over the longer-term funding of the government would leave key higher education programs unscathed but eliminate more than $100 million in earmarks for agriculture and other research programs that benefit colleges and universities. The measure, which House Republicans unveiled on Friday, would fund the federal government through April 8 while Congressional leaders and the White House negotiate over a bill to finance government operations through the rest of the 2011 fiscal year.

Monday, March 14, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, the University of Rochester's C. Douglas Haessig explores the mathematical curiosity Pi, and how it has inspired an unofficial holiday. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, March 14, 2011 - 3:00am

Officials at the University of Nebraska at Omaha announced Sunday that the institution's athletics program would move to the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I -- but shed its football and wrestling programs in the process. In a news conference Sunday about the move, which still requires the approval of the university's Board of Regents, campus officials said the decision was necessary to ensure the long-term financial viability of the sports program.

Friday, March 11, 2011 - 3:00am

A faculty panel at the Widener University School of Law has recommended that the institution stop trying to fire Lawrence J. Connell, a law professor, over hypothetical examples he used in class involving the killing of the law dean, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Connell has maintained that the use of hypothetical examples -- even ones involving violence and known individuals -- is common and is part of the teaching process. He also has said that he is facing ouster because he is a conservative. He outlined his views on the controversy in an interview on the website of the National Association of Scholars.

Friday, March 11, 2011 - 3:00am

Hoping to tap into Governor Scott Walker's interest in giving more independence to the state's flagship university in Madison, University of Wisconsin System leaders on Thursday released a proposal that would give similar autonomy to all of the public colleges and universities in the UW system. The "Wisconsin Idea Partnership," as the plan is called, would "build on" Walker's controversial plan to offer "new operational freedom to UW-Madison," while "extending the new flexibilities to all UW campuses as part of a unified system," the system's Board of Regents said.

Friday, March 11, 2011 - 3:00am

A coalition of higher education groups on Thursday asked Congressional leaders to push for a one-year delay in two Education Department regulations that are scheduled to take effect in July. The groups, organized as usual by the American Council on Education, urged Representative Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), who heads the House of Representatives postsecondary education subcommittee, to either encourage or force the Education Department to delay the implementation date of rules that would establish a federal definition of "credit hour" and expand state authorization requirements (see related Views essay). The two rules are part of a larger package of regulations aimed at protecting the integrity of federal financial aid programs, and they "will have little or no effect in curbing fraud and abuse, but they could do enormous damage to the quality and diversity of postsecondary academic offerings," the groups wrote. Education Department officials have ignored previous requests from the higher education associations to change or rescind the rules, the groups said. And with time running out, neither state officials nor campus administrators have guidance about how to implement the new rules, making for an impossible situation, the associations suggest.

Friday, March 11, 2011 - 3:00am

Saint Joseph's University announced Thursday that serious cardiovascular issues will prevent its new president from stepping into the job. Father Joseph O'Keefe was chosen as the Roman Catholic institution's president in January, but a routine pre-employment physical uncovered the medical issues, the statement said. Father O'Keefe was due to start May 18, but instead will take a year's leave from Boston College, where he was dean of education.

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