Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 9, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, George Poinar of Oregon State University reveals what a piece of amber has to say about the behavior of a long-extinct spider. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

January 9, 2013

Florida Governor Rick Scott and the University of Florida Board of Trustees have asked the university's president, Bernie Machen, to stay in his role, scrapping a search that began when Machen announced plans to retire this summer. Machen, who has been in the role since 2004 and is 68, said he will stay on and will enter into talks with the board to extend his contract.

"As we prepared for our final round of interviews with outstanding candidates, it became increasingly clear that defining a new vision for higher education in Florida will be front and center in the months ahead, and that we have the opportunity to do this important work with the governor and the Board of Governors,” said the board chairman, David Brown. “With this opportunity, we recognized the need to take full advantage of our very capable president and felt this is not the time for a lengthy transition of leadership."

January 9, 2013

Officials at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities are concerned that TCF Bank -- which the university exclusively permits to market accounts linked to student identification cards -- is closing the accounts of students from Iran, The Star Tribune reported. Bank officials said that they are not targeting students, but are complying with federal regulations concerning funds from certain groups in Iran. The bank said it was open to reviewing the accounts of the Iranian students, and possibly restoring them. University officials said that they should have been notified, and might have been able to work this out without the students losing their accounts.

 

January 9, 2013

The website College Humor is offering two $5,000 scholarships for average students. "Why is it that there are tons of scholarships for academically excellent students, tons of scholarships for academically challenged students and not a damn thing for the majority of the students in the middle? We don't know, either," says the announcement of the new scholarship. "Did you sign up for 3 clubs but never attend meetings? Is your G.P.A. a 2.1? Would some of your professors have a hard time remembering if you were in their class? If so, enter now! We hope you're not exceptional." While the website features plenty of satire, a spokesman said via e-mail that "this is a real contest."

Applicants must explain why they are average and upload photos or videos that "highlight your averageness."

 

January 8, 2013

Gallaudet University has reinstated Angela McCaskill, the institution's chief diversity officer, who was suspended for signing a petition against the recognition of gay marriage by Maryland, the Associated Press reported. The university announced the reinstatement, but did not elaborate or respond to requests for comment. Some advocates for gay rights applauded the suspension, saying that universities cannot promote equity for gay students and employees while having their diversity efforts led by people who believe that gay people should be denied rights available to straight people. But critics said that the university was inappropriately punishing McCaskill for expressing political views.

 

January 8, 2013

In a major victory for California public higher education, voters in November approved a plan by Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, to raise some taxes for seven years. Brown and others campaigned for the tax increase by saying that it would allow the public universities to avoid tuition increases. Republicans have now responded by proposing legislation that would freeze tuition for seven years, the duration of the tax increases, The Los Angeles Times reported. While unlikely to pass, the proposal is seen as a way to shape the debate over spending priorities in the state, the newspaper said.

 

January 8, 2013

ITT Educational Services, a for-profit college chain specializing in technical programs, last week announced that it had agreed to a $46 million settlement payment to Sallie Mae, according to a corporate filing. The settlement was related to a lawsuit filed by the lending giant, Reuters reported, which argued that ITT had breached a shared loan risk agreement. The company did not admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

January 8, 2013

Catholic University of America will today announce the creation of a new School of Business and Economics that will aim to infuse the university's religious values into the business curriculum, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Roman Catholic ideas of natural law will play a key role in the undergraduate ethics course, the introductory business course will focus on the social impact of commerce, and the accounting will focus on the ethics involved. "Business is supposed to be a service to society," said Andrew Abela, chair of the business and economics program, which is being elevated to a school.

 

January 8, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Florin Dolcos of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign explains the importance of the handshake in making a good first impression. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

January 8, 2013

Legislation proposed in Wyoming would expand the board of the University of Wyoming from 12 to 14, allowing the additional two board members to come from outside the state, The Casper Star-Tribune reported. Proponents say that there are loyal supporters of the university who no longer reside in the state, but who could provide expertise to the board. One reason for the possible change: A majority of the university's graduates end up living outside the state.

 

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