Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 5, 2013

Some Stanford University students are up in arms about a proposal to start some high-demand classes at 8:30 a.m., the San Jose Mercury News reported. More than 1,700 students have signed an online petition that calls the proposal -- which Stanford administrators hope will allow the university to use its facilities more efficiently -- "deplorable" and complains that students were not sufficiently consulted.

March 5, 2013

Connecticut's Manchester Community College has decided to end its three remaining sports programs, citing a desire to use the program's $370,000 annual costs for other purposes given its limited resources, the Hartford Courant reported. Manchester's decision, which President Gena Glickman said she made reluctantly given that athletics is an important "access point" for students who tend to graduate at a high rate, will leave Gateway Community College as the only two-year institution in the state with a sports program, down from nine two decades ago, the Courant said.
 

March 5, 2013

The University of Chicago has placed two employees on administrative leave and started an investigation into the actions of a police officer who posed as a protester during a protest over the university hospital's policies on trauma care, The Chicago Tribune reported. Robert Zimmer, president of the university, said that that strategy of posing as a protester was "totally antithetical" to the university's values.

 

March 5, 2013

Oberlin College canceled classes and "non-essential activities" on campus Monday, after reports of a person walking near its Afrikan Heritage House in “a hood and robe resembling a Ku Klux Klan outfit.” College officials said they and the Oberlin Police Department are investigating the sighting, which follows a string of hate-related incidents on campus. Anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic graffiti appeared on multiple occasions last month, according to The Oberlin Review, and one student told public safety he was robbed and assaulted by a person who made derogatory ethnic remarks. Oberlin hosted a teach-in, “demonstration of solidarity,” and community convocation Monday afternoon in lieu of classes.

March 5, 2013

Edwin Mellen Press is dropping a wildly unpopular libel lawsuit against a university librarian, CBC News reported. Mellen sued Dale Askey, associate university librarian at McMaster University in Ontario, where he’s been working since 2011, over a blog post he wrote in August 2010, when he was at Kansas State University, that was highly critical of Mellen. The press says that it wants to focus on its authors and books and so is dropping the suit. Many scholarly and library groups were furious about the lawsuit and criticized Mellen for filing it.

 

March 5, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Laura Mickes of the University of Warwick explores why it’s often easy to remember a friend’s Facebook status but hard to remember a profound literary quote. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


 

March 5, 2013

The British Council has joined with Futurelearn, the United Kingdom’s homegrown MOOC (massive open online course) platform. Futurelearn now has 19 partners, including 17 U.K. universities, the British Library, and the British Council, which promotes British higher education internationally.

“The British Council has been bringing the UK’s education sector to people around the world for almost eighty years, so it’s very exciting that with Futurelearn we’re able to expand that to millions more people through the MOOC platform,” the organization’s chief executive, Martin Davidson, said in a statement.  “We hope that our recognized experience in English language learning and delivering assessments and examinations in nearly a hundred countries will contribute to making Futurelearn even more attractive for ambitious learners around the world.”

Futurelearn marks the first significant entry of a foreign player into the MOOC market, which heretofore has been dominated by elite American universities. The first Futurelearn courses are expected to be offered later in 2013.

March 4, 2013

William Stewart has resigned as a trustee of Southwestern College, a community college in California, saying that the administration was not providing accurate information to trustees or the faculty union with which it is negotiating. The college's student newspaper, The Sun, published the resignation letter, in which Stewart said that "without information, without all information, oversight is a sham." Stewart is a philosophy professor at San Diego City College. A spokeswoman for Southwestern told NBC 7 San Diego that "we would have to respectfully disagree with" Stewart's statement. "We've been providing all the budget information the board and the union has asked for. We're just sorry he chose to resign."

March 4, 2013

Colleges have long been known for sale of T-shirts, coffee mugs and so forth. The latest item for sale, reported The New York Times, is beef. Washington State University is selling premium beef for $9.50 a pound, enough to cover costs and also make up for state budget cuts.

March 4, 2013

A few hours before President Obama signed an order officially instating across-the-board spending cuts Friday night, the U.S. Education Department issued guidance on what the automatic budget cuts would mean for federal financial aid programs. The Pell Grant is exempt from the mandatory cuts in 2013. But loan origination fees will increase immediately for new loans, by about 0.05 percentage points on subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans, from 1 percent to 1.05 percent, and by about 0.2 percentage points, from 4 percent to 4.2 percent, on Parent PLUS and Grad PLUS loans. The first disbursements of some grants — the TEACH Grant and Iraq-Afghanistan Service Grant — are also subject to cuts.

Funding will be reduced for the federal work-study program and for the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant beginning in the fall if sequestration remains in effect.

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