Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - 4:29am

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Tuesday announced $9 million in grants for "breakthrough learning models" in higher education:

The awards include:

  • $3.3 million to EDUCAUSE for four winners of the Next Generation Learning Challenges' latest RFP. These winners include state systems, four-year and two-year programs, and all have signed up to deliver significant improvements in completion at scale, at affordable tuition rates.
  • $3 million to MyCollege Foundation to establish a nonprofit college that will blend adaptive online learning solutions with other student services.
  • $1 million to Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop and offer a new, free prototype computer science online course through edX, a joint venture between MIT and Harvard, and partner with a postsecondary institution that targets low-income young adults to experiment with use of the course in a "flipped classroom."
  • $1 million to the Research Foundation of the City University of New York to support the launch of the New Community College (NCC) at CUNY.
  • $500,000 to University of the People to support the pursuit of accreditation.
  • $450,000 to the League for Innovation in the Community College to develop and pilot a national consortium of leading online two- and four-year colleges that will help increase seat capacity in the community college system and support more low-income young adults in attaining a postsecondary credential. The consortium will initially include Coastline Community College (CA), the University of Massachusetts Online, Pennsylvania State World Campus and the University of Illinois-Springfield.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Andrew Colman of the University of Leicester explains why natural selection seems to favor cooperation among individuals. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - 3:00am

Corinthian Colleges Inc. on Tuesday announced that it would sell two of its six WyoTech campuses, located in California and Florida. The for-profit has yet to secure a buyer, according to a corporate filing, and will discontinue operations at the campuses until one is found. WyoTech's academic programs focus primarily on automotive technology. In March Corinthian announced the sale or closure of seven of its Everest College campuses, which had been struggling financially.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - 3:00am

The Ohio Supreme Court decided largely in favor of Ohio State University in an open records lawsuit brought by ESPN pertaining to the 2011 football scandal, CBS News reported. ESPN filed the suit -- which held that the university improperly cited the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act in withholding or removing names from documents -- in July. The court said the university mostly adhered to FERPA, but it did order the university to release a few records that had been withheld entirely as long as students' names were redacted. A university statement issued Tuesday said, "Ohio State appreciates the clarity given today by the Ohio Supreme Court affirming the university's interpretation of federal student privacy laws."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - 3:00am

The Purdue University Board of Trustees will convene Thursday to vote on the university's next president -- which sources, including Indiana Public Media, have reported will be Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.

At some universities, professors have objected to the appointments of non-academics to presidential post. But faculty leaders at Purdue are open to the idea. Joseph Camp, secretary of faculties for the university's Faculty Senate, said Daniels' political background would not affect his ability to be president: "I don't know if there's anything in his background that will either qualify or disqualify him to be president, so what I have to do is maintain an open mind, and like everyone else, I'm curious to see how this all works out."

Another member of the senate, Vice Chair David Williams, shared his view. Williams wrote in an e-mail that although "considerable voice" has been given to the next president being an academic, he sees the importance of having a president who can harness entrepreneurship at the university to attract funding. "Mitch Daniels has been successful in the business world, and in the political world. He could very well be the right person, at the right time, coming into the right environment. I find that prospect exciting," he wrote.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 3:00am

A survey being released today suggests that arts graduates -- counter to the stereotype -- are not all facing unemployment. The survey, the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, includes graduates of arts colleges and of arts programs within broader universities. Among the findings:

  • 87 percent of arts graduates who are currently employed are satisfied with the job in which they spend the majority of their work time.
  • Of those employed alumni, 82 percent are satisfied with their ability to be creative in their current work, whether working in the arts or in other fields.
  • Only 4 percent of respondents report being unemployed and looking for work – less than half the national rate of 8.9 percent.
  • 84 percent of employed alumni agree that their current primary job reflects their personalities, interests and values, whether their work is in the arts or other fields.
  • Those with degrees in the performing arts and design are the most likely ever to be employed as professional artists, with 82 percent of dance, theater and music performance majors, and 81 percent of design majors working as professional artists at some point.

 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 4:32am

Charitable giving to education at all levels hit $38.87 billion 2011, a 4 percent increase, according to the annual "Giving USA" study, released today. Adjusted for inflation, the increase is just under 1 percent, reflecting the slow recovery in giving following the economic downturn of 2008.

 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, David Luther of George Mason University explains how urban-dwelling birds have responded to an increase in man-made noise. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 4:34am

The Pittsburgh office of the National Labor Relations Board on Monday rejected a request by Duquesne University to block a vote by adjuncts on whether to unionize, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Duquesne, a Roman Catholic university, argued that its religious affiliation should exempt it from a union election. But the NLRB noted that Duquesne had agreed to a union vote just weeks earlier, and that long-established NLRB policy bars parties from opting out of an election they have agreed to barring truly unusual circumstances.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 3:00am

Officials at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln believe a professor who had been leading students on a study abroad trip has been detained by Chinese authorities for undisclosed reasons, based on reports from the professor’s family.

Weixing Li, an assistant professor of practice management at the university’s College of Business Administration, has offered the monthlong study abroad program since 2008, and he had not experienced any problems with the Chinese government until now, said David Wilson, senior international officer at the university. Li’s family notified the university on Friday that Li had called his sister in China to tell her he had been detained. Neither the family nor the university has been able to ascertain when he was detained or his whereabouts, and his family indicated they believe he is still in custody.

“There’s a good deal we don’t know -- when, why or where he was detained, for example,” Wilson said. Officials at the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment on Li’s detention.

Wilson said Li is not an American citizen, which makes obtaining information about his situation difficult. “We’ve been working with the American Embassy (in Beijing), but there’s very little they can do because this faculty member is a Chinese national.”

According to a brochure, the study abroad program occurred from May 5 to June 1. Out of the 18 total participants, 11 decided to stay in China after the program ended to participate in internships or other activities. Wilson said Li was detained after the program ended, so Li was no longer accompanying the students. The university notified the students who remained in China about Li’s detention, and about half of them decided to come home early, Wilson said.

“We have no reason to believe that our students are not safe, or that this detention is in any way connected with them, but we felt that it was important to share that news with them so that they could talk it over with their families and make decisions,” he said, adding that the news had not yet been shared with the rest of the university community. Wilson said he contacted some other institutions to ask if they have had faculty members detained abroad, and no one he contacted has had experience with this scenario.

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