Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 18, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, William Cooper of Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne explains why species that inhabit island are less frightened of human intruders. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

February 18, 2014

At some colleges and universities, the students who were cheering snow days in recent weeks are being hit with bad news: make-up classes. Villanova University, which had six weather-related closings (a university record) has announced Sunday classes to make up the lost time. Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge is planning three Saturdays of classes. Duke University is designating some weekend days, and also is offering help from its instructional technology staff for faculty members who want to offer online make-up sessions.

 

February 18, 2014

The faculty union at the University of Illinois at Chicago is planing a two-day strike, starting today. The union, affiliated with the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, is staging the strike after 18 months of negotiations for a first contract. "UIC professors did not want it to come to this, but the trustees’ proposals continue to short change both faculty and students," said a statement from the union. "UIC administration continues to hike tuition to the point it has amassed hundreds of millions in profits each year and more than a billion dollars in reserves, yet refuses to pay professors what they’re worth. Many members of the faculty who teach first-year students only make $30,000 a year!"

A statement from the university, released in advance of the expected strike, said: "The university values its faculty and has offered a fair contract to each of its collective bargaining units. We will continue to bargain in good faith, now with the help of a federal mediator, until a settlement is reached. The university believes that a work stoppage or strike is not in the best interest of the faculty, the University, or our students; however, we acknowledge the faculty’s right to strike under Illinois labor law."

 

February 17, 2014

The nearly 3,800 academic libraries in the United States had nearly one electronic book for every four paper documents in their collections and nearly 86,000 full-time-equivalent employees in 2012, and 223 of them had more than 1 million books in their collections, about the same number as in 2008, the National Center for Education Statistics said in an annual report released last week.

The report, "Academic Libraries: 2012," provides an array of statistics about the status of academic libraries. Comparing the data for 2012 to those from a comparable report in 2008 reveals some trends about the shape of their collections and staffs, among other things. Among them:

  • The 3,793 academic libraries had just under 1.099 billion books in their collections, compared to 1.052 billion held by the 3,827 academic libraries in 2008. In 2008, the libraries had 102 million ebooks, less than 10 percent the size of their paper collections. In 2012, they had 250 million ebooks, almost 25 percent the size of their paper collections.
  • The libraries had 93,438 FTE staff in 2008, including 27,000 librarians, about 7,500 full-time-equivalent professional staff, and about 24,000 student assistants. Those numbers had dropped by 2012, to 85,752 full-time-equivalent employees, about 26,000 librarians, and about 20,500 student assistants.
February 17, 2014

Oregon State University announced Friday that the engineering dean and the head of the electrical engineering and computer science program were both being removed from their positions immediately, although they remain on the faculty, The Oregonian reported. The dean, Sandra Woods, had earlier moved to dismiss the head of the electrical engineering program, Terri Fiez, but had agreed to let Fiez finish out the academic year. Many faculty and business leaders criticized Woods for dismissing Fiez.

 

February 17, 2014

Students at Reed College created a massive snowball last week and when rolling it, lost control of the 800-lb. creation, and it crashed into a dormitory, literally breaking through the wall. Details are here.

big snowball photo

Giant snowball cracks wall in Reed dorm.

 

 

February 17, 2014

In November, black male undergraduates at the University of California at Los Angeles released a video about the challenges they face as part of an extreme minority. Now black UCLA law students have followed with a video called "33," referring to their number among 1,100 law students. In the video, students describe feeling isolated, stereotyped and unwelcome. The media contact for the law school did not respond to an email message seeking comment.

February 17, 2014

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, announced Sunday that the state would start supporting college degree programs in state prisons. Since Congress barred the use of Pell Grants for prisoners in 1994, many higher education programs in prisons have been eliminated or substantially reduced, making the New York State initiative notable as a move in the opposite direction. New York will offer associate and bachelor's programs in 10 prisons (one in each region of the state). Governor Cuomo said that the state would end up saving money on the effort. The state will pay roughly $5,000 a year to educate a prisoner, but the state pays $60,000 a year to incarcerate a prisoner. The state's recidivism rate is currently 40 percent, but studies have shown that inmates who earn college degrees are far less likely than other prisoners to return to jail.

"Giving men and women in prison the opportunity to earn a college degree costs our state less and benefits our society more," said a statement from Cuomo.

February 17, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Seth Bruggeman of Temple University reveals why George Washington’s status as a Virginian made him a symbol of national unity. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

February 17, 2014

Gregory D. Jordan has resigned as president of King University in Tennessee amid increasing criticism from faculty members and alumni, The Times News of Kingport, Tenn., reported. While board members defended him, critics said he was shifting attention to branch campuses and ignoring the concerns of those on the main campus.

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