Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 9, 2014

A new report from MDRC, a nonprofit social policy research organization, describes promising efforts to help the 39 million adult Americans who lack a high-school credential successfully transition to college. The report looks at three general types of adult education reforms: efforts to increase the rigor of adult instruction and the standards for earning a credential; GED-to-college "bridge" programs; and interventions that allow students to enroll in college while simultaneously completing the requirements for a high school degree. LaGuardia Community College has a particularly successful GED bridge program, according to the report.

January 9, 2014

Okay, that was a cheap ploy. Yes, the contest is winter-themed this month, but it really has nothing to do with the Arctic Vortex. But you clicked, right? Please click here to submit a caption for this month's cartoon contest, and visit this page to vote for your favorite among the three finalists chosen by our panel of judges for last month's drawing. You offered lots of good captions for them to choose from.

And please join us in congratulating the winner of November's Cartoon Caption Contest: Tom Panettiere, associate director of financial aid and scholarships at the State University of New York at Purchase.

His submission for the cartoon at left -- The college, ever mindful of its job placement reporting, was glad to be able to count Jinny Barholomew as both a "pilot" and as an "advertising executive" due to a gray area in the regulations. -- earned the most votes from our readers. He will receive an Amazon gift certificate and an original of the cartoon signed by Matthew Henry Hall.

Thanks to all for participating.

January 9, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Wing Yee (VerBon) Cheung of the University of Southampton explains why how we think about the past can influence attitudes about the future. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


January 9, 2014

WASHINGTON -- The Education Department is convening a panel of experts to make public presentations later this month on how the Obama administration should develop a federal college ratings system, a department spokesman said Tuesday.

The National Center for Education Statistics, the department’s research arm, will host a symposium on January 22 featuring “experts on empirical methods for measuring performance, metric development, and state and federal postsecondary data and data collection and dissemination infrastructures,” according to a forthcoming department announcement. 

Officials have asked the attendees to make presentations based on the department’s December request for information on how it should piece together a ratings system. In that notice, official sought answers to 30 questions, including information on what kinds of data are available, how they should be weighted in a ratings system, and how best to present ratings information to consumers.

The daylong event will be held at the Education Department’s K Street offices here and will be open to the public. A department spokesman Tuesday confirmed the following list of experts who will be presenting:

  • Braden Hosch, State University of New York at Stony Brook
  • Brandon Busteed, Gallup
  • Christine Keller, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
  • Dana Mukamel, University of California at Irvine
  • David Figlio, Northwestern University
  • Don Hossler, Indiana University
  • Hans L’Orange, State Higher Education Executive Officers association
  • John Pryor, University of California at Los Angeles
  • Kevin Carey, New America Foundation
  • Patrick Kelly, National Center for Higher Education Management Systems
  • Patrick Perry, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office
  • Robert Kelchen, Seton Hall University
  • Robert Morse, U.S. News & World Report
  • Roger Benjamin, Council for Aid to Education
  • Russell Poulin, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education’s Cooperative for Educational Technologies
  • Sarah Turner, University of Virginia
  • Sean Corcoran, New York University
  • Tod Massa, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
  • Tom Bailey, Columbia University 
January 8, 2014

A CNN investigation has found many football and basketball players at big time athletics universities may not be literate above a fifth grade level. The network approached public universities with open records requests for SAT and ACT scores of athletes on those teams. Some universities refused to comply. But of those that did, between 7 and 18 percent of football and basketball players were "reading at an elementary school level." The investigation also compared overall football and basketball player SAT and ACT scores to those of other students, finding large gaps at many institutions. Universities offered a variety of reasons for admitting athletes whose test scores would raise questions about their literacy. Some said, for example, that athletes don't take the tests that seriously, aiming only to do well enough to meet National Collegiate Athletic Association minimum requirements.



January 8, 2014

A state judge on Tuesday issued a ruling that will block about half of a controversial expansion plan by New York University, The New York Times reported. The judge ruled that New York City lacked the legal authority to turn over three parks to NYU for the projects, and that such a deal required the approval of the New York Legislature. NYU has not said if it will appeal, but said that the ruling did not affect the largest part of the building project, a tower that could be as high as 26 stories. But critics of the plan said that the ruling essentially meant that the university has to restart the entire project approval process, since earlier approval was for a full plan, not just that tower.


January 8, 2014

After struggling with financial problems largely attributable to declines in state funding, officials at Indiana's Ivy Tech Community College said Tuesday that they're cutting the number of regional chancellors from 14 to 11 as part of a larger consolidation effort. The combinations of Ivy Tech's East Central and Richmond regions and Columbus and Southeast regions will save Ivy Tech between $2.5 to $3 million total, said a college representative. While the number of chancellors will drop to 11, the number of regional boards of trustees will remain at 14.

Ivy Tech has wanted to bring on more advisers and full-time faculty since early last year, when officials said they might eliminate as many as 20 of the 76 campus locations, and system leaders hope these changes will help them achieve that goal.

Ivy Tech is Indiana's primary community college system and serves almost 200,000 students each year, through 31 campuses and 75 educational sites.


January 8, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has approved the distribution of a new vaccine -- approved in Europe but not yet generally approved for use in the U.S. -- at the University of California at Santa Barbara, NBC News reported. That university has had an outbreak of meningitis that is not prevented by vaccines used in the U.S. The meningitis reported at Santa Barbara is similar to that at Princeton University, which in December with CDC approval vaccinated thousands of students with the new vaccine.


January 8, 2014

What do tenured professors have in common with audiologists, hair stylists and jewelers? They’ve all got the lowest-stress jobs, according to a new report from CareerCast.com. The job portal’s annual ranking, which last year named university professor as the No. 1 least stressful job, has attracted much criticism from professors who say their work entails more than its fair share of stress. The 2013 ranking backlash escalated after Forbes picked up on the study and published an article saying that "professors have a lot less stress than most of us," thanks to lots of vacation time and few deadlines. In response to that article, professors took their complaints to Twitter under hashtags such as #RealForbesProfessors. Gawker even weighed in on the debate, with a post called "The Forbes-College Professor War Is So On."

This year’s report ranks university professor the No. 4 least-stressful job, behind audiologist, hair stylist and jeweler. Seamstress/tailor, dietician, medical records technician, librarian, multimedia artist and drill press operator round out the top 10 least stressful jobs. The No. 1 most stressful job is enlisted member of the military, followed by military general. Unlike last year – when adjunct professors pointed out that uncertain employment and low per-course pay were particularly stressful aspects of their jobs – the ranking notes that it refers specifically to tenured professors. (Last year’s ranking referred only to full-time professors, not adjuncts, but that was not made clear in the ranking itself.)

Via email, a CareerCast spokeswoman said that the organization had not changed its methodology – which takes into account 11 factors, including travel required, potential for growth and deadlines – in light of the criticism. Tony Lee, publisher, CareerCast, added via email: "We received a lot of feedback about our ranking of university professor as a low-stress job. But we found that while adjunct and part-time teachers are right that their jobs can be stressful, the stress levels for tenured university professors – which is what we rank – are lower than the majority of other jobs we measure in our report."

January 8, 2014

A broad range of Tennessee institutions -- two-year and four-year, public and private -- are collaborating on a new "reverse transfer" program designed to allow students to receive associate degrees from their two-year college after they transfer to a four-year institution. A $400,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation will fund the program.

Each year, officials from the coalition of institutions said, about 2,300 of the students who transfer from Tennessee’s community colleges to four-year institutions are within 15 credit hours of the required 60 for an associate degree. The new online system will centralize transfer students’ academic histories, while mapping out an optional completion path toward obtaining the associate degree.

“We’re on the forefront of this technology, said Joe DiPietro, president of the University of Tennessee System. “We know that students who are awarded their associate’s degree while attending a four-year institution are more likely to receive their bachelor’s degree.”

The system, which doesn’t have a formal name yet, will let transfer students know when they have finished the associate degree requirements. As of now, nine public universities, 13 community colleges and eight private institutions are participating in this partnership. DiPietro said he expects the system to fully launch by spring of 2015. 



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