Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 26, 2013

Three Pennsylvania institutions -- Marywood University, Keystone College and Lackawanna College -- have removed Robert J. Mellow's name from their buildings, The Times Leader reported. Mellow was previously a powerful state legislator. But he is now in jail, after he pleaded guilty last year to under-reporting his income for his 2008 tax return, and committing mail fraud by using his Senate staff members to perform political duties for himself and others.

 

April 26, 2013

WASHINGTON -- As Congress begins the long process of renewing the Higher Education Act, the leaders of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce published an open letter to higher education "stakeholders" Thursday, asking for suggestions on rewriting the sweeping law governing federal financial aid programs. Representatives are especially interested in a few areas, they wrote: empowering "students as consumers"; simplifying student aid and loans; increasing affordability, accountability and completion; reducing costs; and balancing "the need for accountability with the burden of federal requirements."

In a statement, the committee's chairman, Representative John Kline, a Minnesota Republican, emphasized paring regulations, simplifying financial aid and providing families with better information. Representative George Miller, a California Democrat, said he hoped to focus on the increasing price of higher education, student debt, barriers to completion, and community colleges.

The committee said it welcomes suggestions -- the more specific the better -- at HEA.Reauth@mail.house.gov.

April 26, 2013

The University of Central Florida has suspended Hyung-il Jung, an instructor, over a comment about "a killing spree," but students say that he posed no danger and was misunderstood, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Jung told a group of students, he said, something along these lines: "This question is very difficult. It looks like you guys are being slowly suffocated by these questions. Am I on a killing spree or what?" Some students have sent a joint letter to the university saying that there is no need for the investigation Central Florida says it is conducting, and that the comment was clearly a joke.

 

April 26, 2013

When it comes to fighting terrorism, Canadian prime minister wants a law and order approach, not social science. The arrest of immigrants to Canada in a plot to attack a train from Canada to New York City has led to some Liberal Party politicians calling for efforts to understand why some people embrace terrorist ideologies. But Prime Minister Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party, is having none of it. It comments that have attracted widespread attention, he said: "In terms of radicalization, this is obviously something we follow. Our security agencies work with each other and with others around the globe to track people who are threats to Canada and to watch threats that may evolve. I think though, this is not a time to commit sociology, if I can use an expression," The Ottawa Citizen reported.

 

April 26, 2013

Pearson VUE, which operates a worldwide network of testing centers for various exams, has been experiencing significant technical problems this week.  The company's Facebook page features numerous comments from people unable to take their scheduled exams or to get information about when they will be able to do so. Some people are posting stories of how hours-long delays likely affected their performance on exams that are crucial to their careers. On the Facebook page, Pearson indicates that it is aware of the problems and is trying to fix them.

"We are continuing our efforts to restore normal service as quickly as possible. We are in the midst of implementing recommendations by our internal and external technology experts, but it is too soon to know how quickly this will improve system performance. Please note that there will likely be additional variations in system performance as we implement these changes," says a statement posted Thursday evening. "We fully appreciate that many of you have been significantly impacted by the circumstances over the past several days, and we will increase testing capacity and operational support to accommodate scheduling and/or rescheduling of those affected as quickly as possible once normal system performance is restored."

April 26, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Neil McLachlan of the University of Melbourne reveals the learned nature of pleasing music. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

April 26, 2013

St. Louis Community College is facing tough criticism for the way it responded to an incident in which, officials acknowledge, in which a female student was assaulted in a women's room, and being held in a headlock until her cries for help prompted others to come to her assistance, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The suspect in the case, also a student, was initially released with a verbal warning to stay off campus. (He has since been arrested.) In addition, the college didn't warn other students about the attack. Myrtle E. B. Dorsey, chancellor of the community college, has issued a letter apologizing for the failure to notify the campus of the attack, and indicating that the college will review its procedures for expelling students.

 

April 25, 2013

WASHINGTON -- When choosing a college, most prospective students are more in need of help navigating already-available data than they are of more disclosures from colleges and universities, witnesses told the House Committee on Education and the Workforce's Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training during a hearing Wednesday. The hearing, on college transparency, focused less on what colleges should be telling prospective students and more on what can be done to make that information accessible and understandable. Witnesses, including Donald Heller, dean of the College of Education at Michigan State University, said they doubted information on students' salaries after graduation was enlightening, although requiring colleges to provide those data has received bipartisan support in Congress in recent months. Students need "better information, not just data," Heller said.

April 25, 2013

Robert Shearer, formerly the director of environmental health and occupational safety at San Francisco State University, has been charged with 128 felonies related to allegedly taking bribes to award a waste-disposal contract that cost the institution millions of dollars, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The bribes allegedly included $183,000, plane tickets for international travel and a Volvo. Shearer has appeared in court, but has not entered a plea in the case.

April 25, 2013

Only 28 percent of students at Taiwan's universities say that they interact with faculty members, and only 36 percent participate in class discussions, according to a new study, Taipei Times reported. The study comes at a time that some educators in the country want to encourage students to move beyond memorization to a more active concept of learning. Professors are being urged to ask more open-ended questions in class, so students would be less fearful of having an incorrect answer.

 

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