Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, March 30, 2012 - 3:00am

Providence's mayor urged Rhode Island legislators Thursday to approve legislation that would allow the state's cities to charge colleges and other nonprofit institutions taxes of up to 25 percent of what they would owe if they were taxable entities, The Boston Globe reported. Providence is among numerous cities that have been looking to their tax-exempt institutions to help it fill budget gaps left by state budget cuts and declines in other revenues.


 

Friday, March 30, 2012 - 4:27am

Laureate Education Inc., a major player in for-profit higher education, is preparing an initial public offering, Reuters reported. The past year has been a tough one for many for-profit entities, but Laureate's international emphasis (half of its revenues come from Brazil, Chile and Mexico, countries experiencing huge increases in demand for higher education) has helped the company grow. Laureate declined to comment for the Reuters report.

 

Friday, March 30, 2012 - 4:28am

It's the time of year that elite colleges and universities report on the shrinking percentage of applicants they admitted this year. The low admission rates aren't actually a surprise, since many of these colleges already announced new records in the number of applicants (and had no plans for significant increases in their class size). The figures from Harvard University tend to attract the most attention because of the very low admit rate (5.9 percent this year). With its prestige and very high yield rate (the percentage of accepted applicants who enroll), Harvard's admit rate tends to be among the lowest most years. Other institutions announcing admissions data this week include Yale University and Williams College. Among the institutions announcing drops in admit rates were Cornell University (16.2 percent, down from 18 percent), Johns Hopkins University (17.7 percent, down from 18.3 percent) and the University of Pennsylvania (12.3 percent, down from 12.4 percent).

Friday, March 30, 2012 - 4:30am

Federal agencies are conducting a review of research they support that could be used by terrorist groups. The document announcing the review note the need to balance multiple issues in the review. "Life sciences research is essential to the scientific advances that underpin improvements in the health and safety of the public, agricultural crops and other plants, animals, the environment, materiel, and national security. Despite its value and benefits, some research may provide knowledge, information, products, or technologies that could be misused for harmful purposes," the document says. "Measures that mitigate the risks ... should be applied, where appropriate, in a manner that minimizes, to the extent possible, adverse impact on legitimate research, is commensurate with the risk, includes flexible approaches that leverage existing processes, and endeavors to preserve and foster the benefits of research."

Friday, March 30, 2012 - 3:00am

The American Council on Education has named 57 faculty members and administrators as the 2012-13 class of the association's Fellows Program. The fellows are assigned to work for a year with a senior administrator at another institution, while also attending special educational programs. More than 300 fellows have gone on to become presidents while more than 1,100 have served as provosts, vice presidents or deans.

Friday, March 30, 2012 - 4:32am

More moves by adjuncts to unionize:

  • Adjuncts at Bergen Community College have voted to unionize through the American Federation of Teachers, The Bergen County Record reported. New Jersey community colleges have seen strong union representation among adjuncts, and organizers at Bergen said that they were impressed with gains made at other campuses.
  • The United Steelworkers -- not a major force in academic labor, but a major force in Pittsburgh labor -- has started a campaign to organize adjuncts at Duquesne University, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The union is considering similar drives among adjuncts at other colleges in the area.

 

Friday, March 30, 2012 - 3:00am

The Senate at Semmelweis University, in Hungary, voted to revoke the doctorate of Pal Schmitt, the president of Hungary, because of an inquiry that found extensive passages were copied from the work of others, the Associated Press reported. The doctorate was awarded by the University of Physical Education, which has since been absorbed by Semmelweis. The committee that studied the dissertation also faulted the University of Physical Education for not identifying the "unusually extensive" copying nor bringing it to Schmitt’s attention. That failure, the committee said, may have led him to believe that "his dissertation meets expectations."

 

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 4:23am

Two band faculty members at Florida A&M University were present during hazing of pledges who wanted to join an honorary band fraternity, several students have told authorities, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The hazing allegedly took place at the home of Diron Holloway, a FAMU professor who is director of the marching band's saxophone section, and involved paddling. Holloway and the other faculty member, Anthony Simons, a music professor, could not be reached for comment. The police report detailing the allegations is the latest development in the investigation of a student death last year that appears to be hazing-related. The university has maintained that it has long had a "no tolerance" approach to hazing, a stance undercut by the report of faculty involvement. The report was released Wednesday and both Holloway and Simmons were then placed on leave by the university, The Tallahassee Democrat reported.

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 4:26am

The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies plan to announce today a major new research program focused on big data computing, The New York Times reported. The agencies will pledge $200 million for the effort.

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 3:00am

UPDATE: After initially backing the cartoonist, Stephanie Eisner, The Daily Texan editorial board apologized Wednesday for a "failure of judgment" in deciding to run the cartoon. The statement said Eisner no longer works for the Texan.

A student cartoonist apologized for a piece about Trayvon Martin's death that prompted allegations of racism when it was published in a campus newspaper. Stephanie Eisner, a junior at the University of Texas at Austin and political cartoonist for The Daily Texan, expressed regret for the cartoon, which said a “big bad white man killed the handsome, sweet, innocent colored boy.” Eisner was referring to the February killing of Martin, 17, by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Martin was black. The shooter, George Zimmerman, has white and Latino parents. Zimmerman hasn't been charged with a crime.

The president of the university's Black Student Alliance called Eisner's cartoon inappropriate. Angry readers flooded the student paper with angry comments and letters to the editor. Eisner said she had good intentions, but failed to constructively comment on news reports about Martin's killing. "I apologize for what was in hindsight an ambiguous cartoon related to the Trayvon Martin shooting," Eisner wrote in a Wednesday e-mail to Inside Higher Ed. "I intended to contribute thoughtful commentary on the media coverage of the incident, however this goal fell flat. I would like to make it explicitly clear that I am not a racist, and that I am personally appalled by the killing of Trayvon Martin. I regret any pain the wording or message of my cartoon may have caused."

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