Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 20, 2013

Americans may be embracing social media and online publications faster than research can determine its effect on science communication, and science understanding can be skewed by the increasingly personalized Web, asserts an article in the Aug. 13 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As early as 2006, 70 percent of Americans searched online for answers to science-related questions, noted Dominique Brossard, a professor of life sciences communication at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, but search engine algorithms could mean public opinion about controversial topics -- like climate change or stem cell research -- is impacted by how those search engines list the results to a query.

Researchers themselves are increasingly turning to social media to keep up with the most recent scientific developments, according to a report from the National Science Foundation. In 2010, one-fifth of neuroscientists and a quarter of physicians surveyed said they read blogs or used social media one or more times a day. "Science as an institution is, more than ever, in need of public support as federal funding is shrinking and scientific issues become more and more entangled with social and ethical considerations," the article reads. "A theoretical understanding of the processes at play in online environments will have to be achieved at a faster rate if science wants to leverage the online revolution for successful public engagement."

August 20, 2013

Career Education Corp. has agreed to a $10.25 million settlement with New York's attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman. The for-profit chain, which owns Colorado Technical University and Sanford Brown, had been the subject of an inquiry by Schneiderman over allegedly inflating its graduates' job placement rates. The settlement includes $9.25 in restitution to former students and a $1 million penalty to the state, according to a news release from the attorney general's office. The company has also agreed to "substantial changes" in how it calculates job placement rates.

August 20, 2013

A Florida appeals court has reduced -- from $10 million to $200,000 -- the amount the University of Central Florida must pay to the family of a football player who died after drills in 2008, the Associated Press reported. The ruling concerned the extent to which the university has immunity from various types of lawsuits. The appeals court also denied a request by the university's athletics division for a new trial.

August 20, 2013

The proportions of American undergraduates who received federal financial aid (57 percent) or at least some form of financial aid (71 percent) in 2011-12 both rose considerably from 2007-8, when the proportions were 47 percent and 66 percent, respectively, a new federal report shows.

The National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, which the U.S. Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics releases every four years, provides a wealth of data about how students are financing their higher education, based on a survey of about 100,000 students.

Among other findings:

  • About 40 percent of students borrowed federal loan funds in 2011-12, up from 35 percent in 2007-8. The average amount they borrowed rose to about $6,400 from about $5,000.
  • The proportion of students on federal grants rose sharply, to 42 percent from 28 percent, due to a significant expansion (now partially undone) in funding and eligibility criteria for Pell Grants.
  • The proportion of students on state grants remained largely flat, at 15 percent, but the percentage of full-time dependent students on state grants dipped to 26 percent from 29 percent, as some states contracted their aid funds.
August 20, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Gerald Koudelka of the State University of New York at Buffalo explains why some of the most dangerous strains of bacteria can outlive their benign cousins in the wild. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 19, 2013

Three officials have been removed from their positions at St. Louis Community College's Meramec campus after a report faulted the college's handling of an assault on campus, and in particular to release of the man accused of the assault, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The man's release "resulted in an unnecessary threat to the campus from an individual who should have remained in custody rather than being allowed to roam free after the commission of a major felony,” the report said. It found  "a lack in leadership and management from key personnel at the district and campus levels."
 

August 19, 2013

Evan Dobelle, who left the University of Hawaii's presidency amid criticism of his spending decisions, is facing questions about his expenses as president of Westfield State University, The Boston Globe reported. Westfield State's foundation closed his credit card account -- intended for modest expenses to help him raise money -- after he charged $8,000 for a four-night stay at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok and $883 in clothing at the men's clothing store Louis Boston. Other expenses receiving scrutiny were charged to the credit card of Dobelle's assistant. During 68 months as president, the Globe reported, Dobelle has traveled out of state 76 times. Sometimes, those trips combined university business and pleasure. For instance, he flew to San Francisco for the university and then went to Bohemian Grove, the male-only retreat that is popular among moguls.

Dobelle has acknowledged some mistakes in spending, but he has argued that many of the charges were designed to raise the profile of Westfield State and to attract either donors, or attention, or international students. He said, for example, that he would not have impressed Thai educators by staying someplace more modest than the Mandarin Oriental. He noted many projects that are booming at Westfield State, which he said is now "the hottest college in New England."

 

August 19, 2013

Dartmouth College is debating an appropriate response to a fraternity's "Bloods and Crips Party," at which the names of those gangs were the kickoff for a "ghetto" party at which participants (overwhelmingly white) mocked ghetto life in racial ways, The Boston Globe reported. College officials said that they were working with Greek leaders so that theme parties in the future would reflect "the Greek community’s commitment to hosting inclusive events." The party took place two weeks ago but the controversy didn't grow until campus blogs published invitations and information about the event in the last week. One blog, Big Green Micro-Agressions, noted that Dartmouth has been debating offensively themed fraternity parties for years. The blog featured a 1998 New York Times article about a ghetto party at at Dartmouth fraternity. In the article, a Dartmouth student from New York City was quoted as saying: " 'I live in a ghetto... For Dartmouth students in general to mock a situation that I was lucky enough to get out of by the grace of God just seems to me very snotty and very ignorant, because my next-door neighbor couldn't dream of being here right now. The party touched a nerve in me.' ”

August 19, 2013

Baylor University and the Baylor Alumni Association are considering a new affiliation in which the university would oversee alumni outreach that is now managed by the association, but there are tensions about the idea, The Waco Tribune reported. A key issue for many alumni is the independence of The Baylor Line, the alumni magazine, which has been a forum in which sometimes-frank criticism of the university has been published.

 

August 19, 2013

Southern University in Baton Rouge eliminated the job of Dong Sheng Guo, a physics professor, in early 2012, as part of a round of budget cuts, but he went on teaching the fall of that year, and the following semester as well, The Baton Rouge Advocate reported. Guo says that he was never formally notified of his dismissal and only became aware that his job had been eliminated when he went to the human resources office to ask why he was not being paid. It is unclear how he was assigned class sections when the university believed his position had been eliminated. Guo is now appealing for his job back.

 

Pages

Back to Top