A study being released today by the American Enterprise Institute found that, in a sample of parents asked to choose between two public colleges on the basis of their own knowledge and accurate information provided about graduation rates, the parents did care about graduation rates. Providing information about graduation rates increased by 15 percentage points the chance that the parents would prefer the institution with better rates, the study found. The significance of the finding, the report says, is that one way to help more Americans earn degrees is to encourage the enrollment of more students at institutions with better graduation rates than others.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Seton Hall University on Tuesday named A. Gabriel Esteban, provost and interim president, to the position of president. Seton Hall, a Roman Catholic University, originally tried to select a priest as its president, and re-opened its search last year to include lay candidates after pressure from faculty members who were not happy with the original finalists. Esteban, who is Catholic, told The Star-Ledger that he expected no change in the university's Catholic mission as a result of his appointment.
The Alliance Defense Fund on Tuesday charged Vanderbilt University Medical Center with violating a law that prevents federally funds from going to institutions that discriminate against applicants who do not want to assist in abortions. The dispute stems from Vanderbilt's Nurse Residency Program in the Women’s Health Track application (pdf), which says nurses “will be expected to care for women undergoing termination of pregnancy.” It continues: “If you feel you cannot provide care to women during this type of event, we encourage you to apply to a different track of the Nurse Residency Program to explore opportunities that may best fit your skills and career goals.”
In a statement released this morning, Vanderbilt University Medical Center North’s director of communications John Howser said that the allegations “have arisen due to a misunderstanding.” In a separate e-mail, he clarified the intention of the application: “The applicant must acknowledge … that he or she understands they may be asked to care for these patients at some point during their care. However, this DOES NOT mean the applicant will be required to participate in performing terminations as a requirement for training, but may be called upon to provide assistance at some point in the continuum of care.” Howser says that as of now, Vanderbilt University Medical Center cannot comment on whether it will change the language of the Nurse Residency application. Matt Bowman, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, responded, "Their description of the letter contradicts the letter itself. They're denying."
Yale failed to withhold taxes for the medical benefits for partners that its employees with same-sex partners receive from the university -- and as a result those employees are being hit with larger withholding totals now, The New York Times reported. The university said that 61 employees were affected.
The subscription-based research database JSTOR, which contains backlogs of scholarly articles going back centuries, has announced plans to begin adding full-length books to its catalog. Scholars using JSTOR’s recently revamped search interface will be able to access relevant book content from certain university presses with whom the organization has partnered -- a list that currently includes the Princeton University Press, the University of Chicago Press, the University of Minnesota Press, and the University of North Carolina Press. Ithaka, JSTOR’s parent organization, has advocated for more collaboration among university presses in the digital age; Ithaka researchers foreshadowed this week’s move in a 2007 report suggesting that making book content available through searchable online repositories could help ensure that long-form scholarly content finds a way to customers. The JSTOR announcement comes just days after the Oxford University Press unveiled its own plan to expand its existing repository for long-form content, Oxford Scholarship Online, to include content from other university presses.
A new study in the Journal of Personality finds that college students crave boosts in self-esteem -- such as receiving praise or a good grade -- above all other activities. Students ranked such ego boosting as more pleasing than having sex, eating favorite foods, drinking alcohol or seeing a best friend.
Board members at Montreal's Concordia University, after two weeks of silence, acknowledged Monday that they had forced out their second president in three years, saying that Judith Woodsworth did not fit with the university's ambitious plans, the National Post reported. Concordia announced in late December that Woodsworth was leaving for personal reasons, but were forced to concede -- after she went public with charges that she had been forced out -- that they had paid her $700,000 to leave. Woodsworth, president since 2008, replaced Claude Lajeunesse, who also had a run-in with the Board of Governors, the Post reported.
More than 150 senior Israeli academics have signed a petition calling for an academic boycott of the Ariel University Center, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, The Jerusalem Post reported. The petition states that the center was built on occupied land near areas where Palestinians lack human rights. A number of British academics have been working for years to organize academic boycotts of Israeli universities -- and these efforts have been opposed by academic groups not only in Israel but also in the United States. The Israeli organizers of the new boycott effort say that by distinguishing between a boycott of universities in Israel proper and the one built on the West Bank, they hope to fight efforts to stigmatize all Israeli universities.