Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday announced a suit against Kaplan Higher Education, charging that the for-profit university was violating the rights of black job applicants by considering credit histories in deciding whom to hire. "This practice has an unlawful discriminatory impact because of race and is neither job-related nor justified by business necessity," said a statement from the EEOC. Kaplan issued a statement to Bloomberg saying that it conducted the credit checks only for jobs involving financial matters, adding that the company was "proud of the diversity of our workforce."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Tensions at the University of Puerto Rico are rising as a student strike continues over a fee increase, the Associated Press reported. At least 17 people were detained in clashes between protesters and police on Monday.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Congress on Tuesday passed legislation that, in funding the federal government's operations through March 4, ensures that the maximum Pell Grant will remain at $5,550 at least through then. Democratic leaders had hoped to pass legislation that would have set federal spending for the entire 2011 fiscal year, so that Republicans -- who've promised significant cutbacks in federal outlays -- could not initiate that approach until 2012. But with Republicans in the Senate blocking a vote on the Democrats' omnibus spending bill, a compromise was reached that sets spending only through March, at which time the newly configured Congress could begin slashing. The top priority for higher education leaders -- which they got -- was an amendment calling for fully funding the Pell Grant Program, which faces a $5.7 billion shortfall for 2011, and a gap that is expected to reach $8 billion in 2012.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 3:00am

As lawmakers rushed to finish the work of the 111th Congress, the House of Representatives on Tuesday approved the Senate's version of the America COMPETES Act, ensuring passage of the long-delayed science research bill. By a vote of 228-130, the House passed legislation that had cleared the Senate late last week after many months of false starts and numerous iterations. The legislation renews the 2007 America COMPETES Act, which authorized major increases for research at the National Science Foundation, new programs to encourage innovation, and significant increases in support for math and science teacher education. The renewal, which was criticized by Republican leaders for proposing too-large boosts in spending, was applauded by higher education officials. "COMPETES provides a framework for our nation’s investment in research and education that will strengthen our nation’s innovative capacity and lay the foundation for long-term economic growth," Robert M. Berdahl, president of the Association of American Universities, said in a prepared statement.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 3:00am

Medical students at Sweden's Karolinska Institute were stunned recently when the body to be used in their first lesson on performing an autopsy was none other than a former instructor, The Local reported. Medical school officials say that standard practice is to announce the name of the deceased before the autopsy begins -- to avoid the discomfort of learning the necessary skills on a body students know. While school officials say this was done, students say that they didn't know the name until they saw the tag attached to their former instructor's toe. The president of Sweden's Medical Students Association, Maria Ehlin Kolk, a medical student at Umeå University, said that she was frustrated that the incident had not been prevented. "It is important that an autopsy truly be the educational opportunity that it should be. The question is how much these students learned from the situation," she said.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 3:00am

Sometimes it's all about expectations. With his March 2009 speech promising to restore science to a place of centrality and honor in federal policy making and to protect it from political interference, President Obama raised the expectations of researchers and higher education generally. So last week, when his administration finally released the "scientific integrity" policy statement that he had promised 18 months earlier, it was widely applauded but seen in some circles as too unspecific and leaving too much up to individual agencies to follow (or not). In a comment reflective of many views in the blogosphere, Albert H. Teich, director of science and policy programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said via e-mail that "this long-awaited memorandum represents several steps in the right direction. It's not a one-size fits all approach; the use of 'appropriate' in many places suggests that it allows considerable room for discretion in the way it's implemented by the agencies.... All in all, we are pleased with the memo, but of course a lot depends on steps the agencies take to implement it."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 3:00am

A new poll by Gallup has found that 40 percent of Americans (a smaller share than at times in the past) holds a strict creationist view, believing that God created humans in their present form, 10,000 years ago. There is a link between educational attainment and such beliefs: 47 percent of those with a high school diploma or less are creationists, followed by 44 percent of those with some college education, 37 percent of college graduates, and 22 percent of those with graduate education. A majority of Republicans (52 percent) believe in creationism, while 34 percent of Democrats and independents do so.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 3:00am

Adderall, a drug intended for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, but increasingly used by college students wanting to get an extra academic boost, is widely available for the latter use at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. Last year, two journalism students wanted to find out how easily they could buy the drug at the main library: They needed only 56 seconds to accomplish their task.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 3:00am

Five years ago, Inside Higher Ed interviewed a brother and sister -- Jeffrey and Susan Herbst -- who were starting off as provosts, he at Miami University in Ohio and she at the State University of New York at Albany. With the announcement Monday that Susan Herbst will be the next president of the University of Connecticut, they will soon share another title. Jeffrey Herbst started as president at Colgate University in July. They are not the only sibling presidents. The Ender brothers -- Kenneth and Steven -- are presidents of, respectively, Harper College and Grand Rapids Community College. And the Hurley brothers are the power siblings in Buffalo area higher ed, with John leading Canisius College and Paul leading Trocaire College.

Monday, December 20, 2010 - 3:00am

A new group of openly gay and lesbian college presidents on Friday released a video both to continue to draw attention to the organization and to join the "It Gets Better" campaign of posting videos to encourage young gay people not to give up hope when facing bullying or discrimination. The presidents and some of their partners talk about some of their past difficulties and current successes -- both personally and professionally. LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education has now had two meetings, and plans to convene again in March in Washington at the annual meeting of the American Council on Education. Here is the video:

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