Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 11, 2012

Universitas 21, a group of universities from around the world, has released a new international ranking of nations' higher education systems. Countries were evaluated on a series of measures related to resources (spending by governments and private sources); output (research and its impact and graduates who meet labor market needs); connectivity (international collaboration); and the higher education environment (government policies, diversity and other factors). Population was taken into account. The top five countries: United States, Sweden, Canada, Finland and Denmark.

 

 

May 11, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Nicholas Leadbeater of the University of Connecticut explores the cutting-edge chemistry of the modern fine dining experience. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 11, 2012

An article in The Kalamazoo Gazette explores why adjuncts at Kalamazoo Valley Community College are in the process of trying to form a union. Part-timers at the college cite a mix of long-term grievances, such as contracts giving them no due process rights and stating that they could lose jobs due to student evaluations. There were also single incidents, such as a switch to paying them monthly, leaving many struggling when a paycheck arrived more than two weeks after it had been expected. College officials declined to comment on the grievances.

 

 

May 11, 2012

The University of Southern California is planning to award degrees this year to nine Japanese-Americans who were students there during World War II and who were forced to end their studies when they were sent to internment camps, The Los Angeles Times reported. While many praise the move -- already undertaken by other colleges whose students from Japanese families were forced out during that time -- some say USC is not doing enough. Posthumous degrees are not being awarded to those who have died, for example. USC says that its polices would bar such degrees.

 

May 11, 2012

The Korea Foundation is planning a significant expansion of programs designed to promote Korean studies in countries other than Korea, The Korea Herald reported. The Global E-School Program, which sets up centers at universities that mix locally based programs with real-life instruction from professors in South Korea, is one of the programs slated for expansion. The foundation currently supports 19 university centers in 12 countries. The foundation is starting an effort such that it would be supporting 57 centers in 23 countries.

 

May 11, 2012

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has revived a whistle-blower lawsuit against two teaching hospitals affiliated with Harvard University's medical school. The suit claims that researchers violated the False Claims Act by submitting false statements about their research in grant applications to the National Institutes of Health. A lower court dismissed the suit, but the appeals court revived it, saying that the lower court incorrectly did not examine certain potential testimony and evidence that might have backed the whistle-blower claims. The appeals court ruling did not resolve the issues in the suit itself.

(Note: This article has been updated from an earlier version to correct the targets of the lawsuit.)

May 10, 2012

A letter signed by 745 scholars, writers, artists and others issued a letter Wednesday denouncing the planned changes at the 42nd Street branch of the New York Public Library. The letter says that efforts to "democratize" the library will not do so, but will damage the library's scholarly role. “More space, more computers, a café and a lending library will not improve an already democratic institution," the letter says. "In fact, the absence of expert staff will diminish the accessibility of the collections to those who aren’t already experienced researchers, narrowing the constituency who can profitably use the library.” Signatories include the Nobelist Mario Vargas Llosa; Pulitzer Prize winners Frances FitzGerald, Margo Jefferson, David Levering-Lewis, Edmund Morris, Art Spiegelman and Annalyn Swan; and the writers Salman Rushdie, Jonathan Lethem, Amitav Ghosh, and Luc Sante.

Two recent Intellectual Affairs columns in Inside Higher Ed detailed the concerns of many scholars about the planned changes at the library. The president of the library wrote a column here last month defending the changes.

May 10, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Andrew Miller of Emory University explains why natural selection has not eliminated genetically predisposed depression. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 10, 2012

The percentage of new California high school graduates who enroll in the University of California and California State University Systems has dropped from 22 percent in 2007 to less than 18 percent in 2010, according to a report issued Wednesday night by the Public Policy Institute of California. Further, the enrollment of California high school graduates who have completed courses required for admission to the university systems has dropped from 67 percent to 55 percent. The declines are the apparent result of population growth at a time of deep budget cuts that have limited enrollment and led to tuition increases at many of the state's universities. The enrollment drop has been steepest among black students. While there has been a slight increase in the enrollment rates at community colleges, that has not offset the other declines. The report says that it appears that more California high school graduates than in the past are enrolling at four-year institutions outside the state.

 

May 10, 2012

Paul Burka, a well-connected writer at The Texas Monthly, blogged Wednesday night -- to the alarm of many faculty members at the University of Texas at Austin -- that the job of President Bill Powers may be in jeopardy. Burka wrote that he had learned of a move by University of Texas regents to remove Powers because of his opposition to a tuition freeze. Governor Rick Perry, a Republican who has selected the regents, has pushed the tuition freeze. Powers has argued that the university can maintain access through financial aid, and that some additional tuition revenue is needed to assure the best possible educational experience for students. Powers has also rejected many of the criticisms made of the university system by a think tank close to Perry.

Burka wrote: "I was told that the situation is fluid and may be happening as I write. My understanding, based on what a source with knowledge of the proceedings has conveyed, is that regents’ chairman Gene Powell asked Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa to recommend that Powers be fired. Cigarroa refused. The next step will likely be a special meeting of the board to take action. I have no indication that notice of the meeting has been posted."

A spokesman for UT Austin said via e-mail to Inside Higher Ed that that the university would offer no comment on Burka's report.

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