In today’s Academic Minute, Daniel Benjamin of Cornell University questions the role happiness plays in the decision making process. Find out more about the Academic Minute here. (For those of you addicted to the Academic Minute, we'll be publishing podcasts in the series Thursday and Friday, too, despite the holiday.)
Higher Education Quick Takes
Karen Pletz, former president of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, was found dead early Tuesday in Florida, The Kansas City Star reported. The cause of death has not been released, but there were no signs of foul play. Pletz was a widely respected civic leader in Kansas City credited with promoting growth at the university. Her firing in 2009 stunned her many supporters. Last year, a federal grand jury indicted her on charges that she had embezzled more than $1.5 million from the university, engaged in money laundering, and falsified tax returns. She had denied wrongdoing.
Newt Gingrich, who is experiencing a surge in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination, said Monday that -- as president -- he would teach a free online course, NBC reported. He said that the course would be distributed in a manner similar to the online offerings of Kaplan or the University of Phoenix. The subject matter would be his policies. Gingrich holds a Ph.D. in history.
Twenty current or former students of a wealthy Long Island high school have now been charged in an SAT cheating scandal, the Associated Press reported. Thirteen of the charges were filed by the local district attorney on Tuesday. Some of those charged allegedly paid others to take the SAT on their behalf. Prosecutors said that they believed that 40 students and former students were involved, but that the statute of limitations prevented charges from being brought against all of them.
Three American students studying abroad at the American University in Cairo were arrested Monday while participating in a protest near Tahrir Square.
Luke Gates, 21, from Bloomington, Ind., and an Indiana University student; Derrik Sweeney, 20, from Jefferson City, Miss., and a Georgetown University student; and Gregory Porter, 19, from Glenside, Pa., and a Drexel University student, were all arrested on suspicion of throwing Molotov cocktails, said Morgan Roth, the university’s director of communication for North America. Roth said it is too early to assess the accusations against the students, and she does not know if the students were targeted or rounded up in a large group.
Roth said she does not know if the three students have been formally charged by the Egyptian authorities, but they are currently being detained at a courthouse facility. All three of the students were enrolled at AUC for the semester. Gates and Porter are taking general studies classes, and Sweeney is enrolled in the Arabic language institute, Roth said.
Roth said the university has contacted the American Embassy to help administrators monitor the students’ whereabouts and well-being. Roth said the university is in fact-finding mode currently, and could not say if the students will remain in Cairo when they are released. She said the university frequently sends messages to the university community to alert them of any potential danger or violence. “We take the temperature all the time,” she said. “We don’t want our students who are not from Cairo and haven’t learned its rhythms to get caught up.”
The number of college faculty members and administrators edged up by 2.6 percent in 2010, to nearly 3.9 million, with growth coming disproportionately at for-profit colleges and among part-time workers, according to a federal report Tuesday. The annual report examines staffing levels and salaries at postsecondary institutions that qualify to award federal financial aid, and the key findings of this year's report generally continue the trends of recent years. Of the roughly 100,000 gain in total employees employed by the colleges in 2010 over 2009, about 50,000 of them work part time (though part-time employees make up slightly more than a third of all postsecondary employees), and for-profit colleges added about 40,000 workers. The proportion of full-time faculty members who have tenure or are on the tenure track slipped by a full percentage point, to 62.7 percent from 63.7 in 2009.
Clark University announced Monday that it will make the SAT or ACT optional for undergraduate admissions. Officials said that the decision followed a study by the faculty and the admissions office, which concluded that the university could make admissions decisions based on such factors as high school grades, rigor of the high school courses taken and extracurricular activities.
Indiana University on Monday formally returned a 15th century painting called "The Flagellation of Christ" to a Berlin museum from which it was stolen in the aftermath of World War II, the Associated Press reported. The painting was stolen by a British soldier and subsequently purchased from a gallery by Indiana's museum, with officials unaware that it was stolen.
Several higher education associations have asked the Department of Defense to withdraw a new memorandum of understanding outlining the guidelines colleges and universities must follow if they wish to award educational assistance to military service members, citing requirements that the groups say are "incompatible" with many colleges' academic policies and practices. Specifically, the letter to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta says that many institutions would choose not to sign the "memorandum of understanding" for the agency's Military Assistance Program because provisions related to the awarding of academic credit, residency requirements and other matters "are at odds with traditional assumptions about federal versus institutional control over academic affairs."