Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 27, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Luke Galen of Grand Valley State University examines the connection between social wellbeing and various degrees of religious belief. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 27, 2012

Lon Morris College, a private, two-year institution in Texas that has been facing severe financial difficulties, has announced that it will not hold a fall semester. A statement from the college said that it is working with Jacksonville College and Tyler Junior College to find places for students admitted to the college. The statement said that the college is looking for a "purchaser" or "financial partner."

 

August 27, 2012

Several Florida colleges and universities announced over the weekend that they would be closed today in light of the arrival of Tropical Storm Isaac. Among the institutions making such announcements: Florida International University, Florida Keys Community College, Miami Dade College, Ringling College of Art and Design, St. Thomas University and the University of Miami.

The storm, expected to reach hurricane force, is headed to the Gulf of Mexico and areas not that far from New Orleans, and more colleges are expected to announce temporary closures today. The American Political Science Association holds its annual meeting this week in New Orleans. On Sunday, the association announced that pre-conference activities on Wednesday have been canceled and that the rest of the meeting should start on time on Thursday.

 

August 24, 2012

Morris Brown College, a historically black college that lost accreditation in 2003 and that has struggled to stay alive since, may be on the verge of collapse due to a foreclosure scheduled for early next month, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The college has millions in debts and only 50 students. (Its enrollment was once 3,000.) The college is planning a prayer vigil for Saturday, hoping for a plan to move forward.

 

August 24, 2012

Because college athletes operate in an “invisible labor market” that exploits students’ money-making potential while severely limiting their rights and mobility, they are entitled to unionization and collective bargaining rights – and would be well-advised to use them, according to a new study. Athletes are subject to “non-negotiable, one-sided agreements imposed by a monopoly” – the National Collegiate Athletic Association – and thus function as employees despite having no say in their welfare, argues Michael LeRoy, a professor of law and of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois. LeRoy proposes a special kind of collective bargaining for athletes, one that “draws from existing labor laws for public safety employees that prohibit strikes but allow final offer arbitration on a limited range of bargaining subjects.”

As part of the massive commercialization of college sports, NCAA football and National Football League games are coordinated to minimize competition between the two and maximize revenues, supporting the argument that collegiate athletes more closely resemble professional athletes than amateur ones, LeRoy argues. (Under the NCAA’s “amateurism” model, athletes are denied salaries, benefits from agents, extra benefits and contact with professional teams.) Just the threat of unionization would produce a “union substitution effect,” LeRoy says, prompting colleges to respond by giving athletes more say. “An invisible union is a plausible middle-ground approach to address the interests of student-athletes,” LeRoy said in a press release. “Without a credible threat of unionization, schools have little incentive to concede that they are essentially professionalizing college football.”
 

August 24, 2012

The California Senate has sent to Governor Jerry Brown legislation that would allow research assistants at the University of California and California State University systems to unionize, the Associated Press reported. Teaching assistants at the public universities already have that right. Republicans opposed the measure, saying it would increase college costs.

 

August 24, 2012

The Rev. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, president of Ateneo de Manila University, a Roman Catholic institution in the Philippines, has issued a statement different from the more than 192 faculty members who jointly have endorsed legislation in that country that would make contraception more widely available. The president's statement said that the bill could "weaken commonly shared human and spiritual values." He said that he respected the faculty members' "social compassion," but he urged them to "continue in their discernment of the common good." Further he asked them to be sure that "the Catholic position" on the issue be taught in classes.

 

August 24, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Ruth DeFries of Columbia University reveals what we can learn about how humans have altered the landscape when we view the Earth from above. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

August 24, 2012

Sri Lanka's government has shut down almost all of the nation's universities, BBC reported. Faculty members have been on strike at the university, and government officials blamed the professors for turmoil on campuses, saying that they were giving students "darkness, without any hope." Academics say that they have been on strike and protesting over government plans to privatize some of higher education, and over political interference in campus decisions.

 

August 24, 2012

A former professor at Richard J. Daley College was indicted Wednesday on charges of theft from the government over allegations that she falsely claimed to have a doctoral degree to be paid extra money, The Chicago Tribune reported. Authorities say that Carol Howley was overpaid by $307,000 by the City Colleges of Chicago as a result of her fake degree. She claimed to have earned the degree at Rush University, but officials there said that she never enrolled. Howley could not be reached for comment. The college fired her in 2011.

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