Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 4:19am

The number of Law School Admission Tests administered in the last year dropped by 16 percent over one year and 25 percent over two years, The New York Times reported. The drops come amid widespread reports that many law school graduates are having difficulty finding jobs for which law degrees are required, and lawsuits against some law schools for allegedly providing inaccurate job-placement data to prospective students.

"For a long time there has been this culturally embedded perception that if you go to law school, it will be worth the money," Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency, an organization pushing for more openness about job placement, told the Times. "The idea that law school is an easy ticket to financial security is finally breaking down."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Missouri system’s departing president had qualms about the state’s flagship campus leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference, the Columbia Tribune reports. But after that leader stepped down to care for his ailing wife and it became clear Missouri wanted to join the SEC, the Tribune found evidence that the Big 12 had prepared a lawsuit it could “wave around” in a meeting with Missouri administrators.

The lawsuit was never filed and, after months of speculation, Missouri announced its move in November. Missouri became the fourth university to leave the Big 12 in 18 months, following the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and Texas A&M University at College Station. Missouri publicly campaigned for admission into the Big Ten in 2011 -- the state's governor even offered an unflattering comparison of the academic qualities of the conferences -- but pledged its support to the Big 12 after that bid failed. The Tigers will begin SEC competition in the fall as Texas Christian University and West Virginia University join the Big 12.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 4:21am

The faculty union of Lansing Community College presented the board Monday night with a vote of no confidence against President Brent Knight, and the board responded by passing a resolution expressing confidence in Knight, The Lansing State Journal reported. Board members said that the faculty vote was a tactic in contract negotiations. Faculty members have been working without a contract since the summer of 2010. But faculty members said that was but one of their grievances, and that they were frustrated by the administration's lack of consultation with them on academic matters, a new enrollment management system they did not like, and spending decisions they consider questionable.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 3:00am

If you're going to get trapped under a car, it's best to do it in the presence of nine cheerleaders -- whose job description includes holding human beings above their heads. A man found that out when the University of Kansas spirit squad freed him from the sedan he was trapped under in a Little Rock parking lot Sunday, according to a college news release.

The cheerleaders, who were in Arkansas for the National Collegiate Athletic Association women's basketball tournament, heard screaming as they were boarding a bus from their hotel to the arena. Nine of them were able to lift the sedan off the ground and free a man who was trapped when a jack failed. The man was bloody but otherwise unharmed, the release said. After their heroics, the squad cheered the Jayhawks to an upset win against the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Karma, perhaps.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Meng Zhu of Johns Hopkins University reveals the link between the strength claims on product packaging and the frequency of use after purchase. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 3:00am

The California State University System will close enrollment on most of its campuses for the spring 2013 semester, eliminating spots for about 16,000 would-be students, because of budget cuts imposed by the state, system officials said Monday. The statements by Robert Turnage, the system's assistant vice chancellor for budget, came in a call with reporters in advance of a trustee meeting later this week. Turnage told reporters that the system would limit enrollment next spring to all but a few hundred students who quality for transfer to one of eight campuses under a recent state law. (The campuses are Channel Islands, Chico, East Bay, Fullerton, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Bernardino and Sonoma.)

The number of students whose enrollment is blocked could rise to 25,000 in the 2013-14 academic year, Turnage said, depending on the outcome of November ballot measures that seek to raise taxes to supplement the state budget. 

Monday, March 19, 2012 - 3:00am

Many academics in Israel are angry over the selection of a business executive, Amos Shapira, as president of the University of Haifa, Haaretz reported. Supporters of the pick have argued that the university needs a leader who will promote change. But many in Israel believe that presidencies should go to academics. Danny Gutwein, a professor of Jewish history at Haifa, called Shapira's selection a step in "the Finance Ministry's hostile takeover of the universities." He rejected the idea that the business perspective is needed. "The premise that a commercial-business administration will rescue the universities is an addictive bit of propaganda," he said. "Essentially, as a consequence of the budget cuts the Finance Ministry forced on the universities, they have been administered as a 'business' for about two decades. And yet, experience shows that the more the universities adopt business logic, the greater the crisis in which they find themselves."

Monday, March 19, 2012 - 3:00am

Members of the University of Southern Mississippi pep band chanted “Where’s your green card?” Thursday at an opposing basketball player from Puerto Rico, The Kansas City Star reported. But it was Southern Mississippi, not Kansas State University freshman Angel Rodriguez, that was sent home after the game. The Golden Eagles lost the second-round National College Athletic Association tournament game, 70-64.

Southern Mississippi President Martha Saunders issued a statement after the game apologizing to Rodriguez and saying that “The words of these individuals do not represent the sentiments of our pep band, athletic department or university.” Rodriguez, a 19-year-old guard from San Juan, is an American citizen by virtue of his birth in the U.S. territory.

As Rodriguez prepared to shoot free throws, members of the Southern Miss band were caught on tape chanting the racially charged phrase. Southern Mississippi’s interim athletics director apologized to his Kansas State counterpart after the game, the Hattiesburg American reported, and hoped to have the pep band director meet with Rodriguez. The pep band director stopped the chant and apologized to a TV reporter who filmed it, the American reported.

Monday, March 19, 2012 - 3:00am

Enrolling in college in the United States remains a top goal of students at national high schools in major Chinese cities, according to a new poll by Art & Science Group, which advises American colleges on enrollment strategies. The survey found that nearly all (94 percent) of students at these high schools are interested in college in an English-speaking country, and that 78 percent are interested in enrolling in the United States. Asked to rate the quality of colleges in the United States, Britain and Canada, the Chinese students gave the U.S. the best marks for academic quality, teaching critical thinking, the quality of facilities and prestige. Britain was on top in campus beauty and an emphasis on the liberal arts. (The scores were quite close for most categories.) Asked to identify challenges to study in the United States, 45 percent worried that they might not be academically prepared, 37 percent said that they didn't know enough about American colleges and universities, 28 percent said that they were concerned about their English skills, 25 percent worried about being far from home and 21 percent worried about whether their families could afford it.

Monday, March 19, 2012 - 3:00am

Dharun Ravi -- the former Rutgers University student who used a webcam to spy on his roommate, Tyler Clementi, kissing another man in their dorm room, tweeted about it and set up another viewing for other students days later -- was convicted Friday on charges of committing a hate crime, invasion of privacy and bias intimidation.

After finding out about Ravi’s actions in September 2010, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

Ravi, 20, faces up to a decade in prison and potential deportation to India after being convicted on all 15 counts. He was acquitted on some components of the bias intimidation charges. In some instances, the jury didn’t find that Ravi had invaded Clementi’s privacy “with the purpose to intimidate” because of sexual orientation, but it determined Ravi did know his actions would cause Clementi to be intimidated because of his sexual orientation. In other words, the jury decided Ravi was motivated by bias, but didn’t necessarily intend to harm Clementi.

The jury also found Ravi guilty on counts of tampering with evidence (for deleting text messages and tweets, and posting false tweets), witness tampering (for trying to influence what student Molly Wei, who testified against Ravi as part of a plea deal, told police), and hindering apprehension or prosecution (for lying to police, preventing a witness from providing testimony and destroying evidence).

Ravi turned down a plea deal last year and declined to testify in the trial. The jury deliberated for three days.

The case has generated new state and federal laws aimed at combatting cyberbullying.


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