Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - 3:00am

Arthur Fisher, a former construction project manager at Vassar College, and his wife have been charged with stealing $1.9 million from the college, The Journal News reported. College officials said that the money was taken over the course of several years. The Fishers have not indicated how they will plead to the felony grand larceny charge. Police officers said that when they searched the Fisher home, they found four late-model BMWs and one Ford F150 truck, three Rolex watches, 10 unregistered handguns, one military style .223-caliber rifle, and fraudulent law enforcement identification cards.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - 3:00am

College and university governing boards must respect the central role of faculty and academic administrators in curricular and other academic matters, but trustees themselves are ultimately responsible for ensuring their institutions' educational quality, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges said in a statement released Monday. The document, released in conjunction with the group's annual meeting in Los Angeles, states: "While academic administrators and faculty members are responsible for setting learning goals, developing and offering academic courses and programs, and assessing the quality of those courses and programs, boards cannot delegate away their governance responsibilities for educational quality. The board’s responsibility in this area is to recognize and support faculty’s leadership in continuously improving academic programs and outcomes, while also holding them -- through institutional administrators -- accountable for educational quality."

Monday, April 4, 2011 - 3:00am

At Madison Area Technical College, full-time faculty members can earn more than twice as much as adjuncts for teaching the same course, according to an analysis by the Wisconsin State Journal. College officials at Madison Tech and elsewhere tend to dismiss such comparisons, noting that full-time faculty have non-teaching duties. But the newspaper said that its calculations were based on the percentage of time that full-time faculty members are supposed to teach.

Monday, April 4, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jason Scorza of Fairleigh Dickinson University explains the challenges faced by today’s veterans as they enter colleges and universities. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, April 4, 2011 - 3:00am

A new alliance among Latin American nations is promoting an internationalization of higher education within the region as a counter to U.S. influence, Times Higher Education reported. The Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (also known as the Alba alliance) includes Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela. The alliance has been promoting universal, free higher education (sometimes drawing criticism from university leaders). Through the alliance, international student enrollments are rising in Cuba and Venezuela.

Monday, April 4, 2011 - 3:00am

Columbia University took a major step Friday toward the return of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps with a 51 to 17 vote of the University Senate for a resolution calling for the institution to "explore mutually beneficial relationships with the armed forces of the United States, including participation in the programs of the Reserve Officers Training Corps," The New York Times reported. Like a number of other colleges and universities, Columbia has in recent years cited the military's discrimination against gay people as incompatible with the university's values, and the federal law authorizing the end of "don't ask, don't tell" has been expected to prompt the university to welcome ROTC back. (It was removed during the Vietnam era.) Harvard University announced last month that it had negotiated to return ROTC to its campus.

Monday, April 4, 2011 - 3:00am

Tik Root, a Middlebury College student who was studying in Syria and was detained there while observing recent protests, has been released. A statement from Ron Liebowitz, the college's president, thanked State Department officials and members of Vermont's Congressional delegation for work to assure Root's release.

Monday, April 4, 2011 - 3:00am

Rising costs have led to much more scrutiny of the Pell Grant Program, but The Huffington Post noted that a key Republican may be taking criticism of a program that once had bipartisan support to a new level. Representative Denny Rehberg, a Montana Republican who is chair of the House subcommittee with jurisdiction over Education Department appropriations, compared Pell Grants to welfare in a radio interview and said that there was a major problem of people receiving the funds year after year without ever graduating. "So you can go to college on Pell Grants -- maybe I should not be telling anybody this because it’s turning out to be the welfare of the 21st century," said Rehberg. "You can go to school, collect your Pell Grants, get food stamps, low-income energy assistance, section 8 housing, and all of a sudden we find ourselves subsidizing people that don’t have to graduate from college. And there ought to be some kind of commitment and endgame."

Monday, April 4, 2011 - 3:00am

Charles McCaslin, a Southern Methodist University junior, quit his position as chair of the Texas College Republicans last week after video surfaced of him describing a hook-up and calling those opposing his preferred candidate for chairmanship of the national college Republican group "nerds and fags," The Dallas Morning News reported. The comments came in his endorsement of another candidate for the national position. McCaslin has since apologized. The video is here:

Monday, April 4, 2011 - 3:00am

A federal judge has reduced the $5 million in damages awarded (in total) to two law professors to a total of $400,000, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The professors sued West Publishing Corp. after they were named as the authors of an addendum to a work they had written. The professors charged that their reputations were hurt by being seen as authors of the addendum, which they didn't write and didn't think highly of. The judge didn't dispute the basic facts that led to the jury award, but said that the original award could not be justified by the damage done to the professors.

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