Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 30, 2012

The union for tenured and tenure-track faculty members at Macomb Community College, which has been independent of national unions since its founding in 1967, has voted to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers. Dawn Roberts, president of the Macomb Community College Faculty Organization, issued a statement in which she said: "MCCFO is a strong and effective union. But with the mounting attacks on unions and public K-16 education, it is imperative that we affiliate with the larger labor movement in order to remain viable and effective. AFT brings broad experience, effective representation, and technical expertise that will be of great benefit to our members."

April 30, 2012

John V. Lombardi has a reputation as a higher education administrator for raising tough issues, attracting strong faculty and student support, and then clashing with his superiors. That was the pattern at the University of Florida and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. That pattern has now repeated itself at Louisiana State University, where he was fired as system president on Friday. Board members said that Lombardi had failed to build key relationships, The Baton Rouge Advocate reported. He had pushed to move beyond budget-cutting (which he said was equivalent to rearranging deck chairs) and to instead look at new sources of revenue (such as tuition increases and reallocating funds from a popular statewide merit scholarship program). Those views and others placed him in disagreement with Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican. (Editor's Note: Lombardi is also a blogger for Inside Higher Ed.)

April 30, 2012

Chris Peterman, a student at Bob Jones University, has clashed with university administrators on a number of issues, and he says that he is being kicked out for, among other things, watching the television show "Glee," WSPA News reported. Students are not permitted to watch television on campus, but are permitted to watch off campus, and Peterman said he was spotted by another student off campus watching "Glee." When he was summoned to a meeting back on campus, he said that a dean told him the show was "morally reprehensible," and gave him demerits that had him on a path to suspension. A Bob Jones spokeswoman said that Peterman was not facing disciplinary action over "Glee," but she also said that watching the show would not be appropriate for a Bob Jones student. "We expect students to obey the student covenant in the spirit and the letter.  Our goal is to help him succeed, and we've done everything we can to help him succeed," she said.

 

April 27, 2012

Simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid would have little effect on eligibility for need-based state grants, according to a College Board study that could allay the concerns about relying only on Internal Revenue Service data -- not a more detailed listing of a student or parent's income and assets -- when awarding financial aid. The authors of the report, "Simplifying Student Aid: What It Would Mean For States," examined the possible consequences of relying only on data transferred from the IRS, which would make filling out the complex form much less difficult for students. (Some fear that the application process itself discourages students who would qualify for need-based financial aid.)

In a sample of five states that award need-based grants, the simpler form would have little effect: the number of eligible students decreased by less than 1 percent in Kentucky and Ohio and would increase slightly in Minnesota, Texas and Vermont, the study's authors found.

April 27, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Ross Brann of Cornell University traces the similarities of Hebrew and Arabic to a time when they were considered a single language. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

April 27, 2012

Two students at the Berlin University of the Arts are offending many with an unusual project. Reuters reported that the students have built a guillotine and posted a video of themselves doing so, and are letting the public vote on whether or not to use the guillotine to kill a lamb. The video may be a stunt, as a spokeswoman for the university said that the students were not serious about killing the lamb and were only trying to create an "artistic provocation." Almost 300,000 people have voted, with a majority favoring the lamb's continued life.

 

April 27, 2012

The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that public colleges and universities do not have the right to bar guns in student or employee vehicles on campuses, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. Kentucky does permit its colleges and universities to bar guns on the persons of people on campuses. But the Supreme Court said that going beyond that would be "contrary to a fundamental policy, the right to bear arms."

April 27, 2012

Top Russian universities may be poised to use debt to finance major improvements in their facilities, according to a new report by Standard & Poor's. The Moscow Times reported that the S&P report follows a new Russian law giving about 30 universities new financial authority, opening up the possibility for them to use debt. The report found that Russian universities -- which have depended on government grants for facilities -- lag their international peers in investments in their physical plants.

April 27, 2012

Creighton University has announced plans to sell its struggling medical center in Omaha to a regional health care network. The university, which sold off a large share of the hospital's ownership to another health care company, Tenet, in 1995, said Wednesday that Alegent Health would buy the entire Creighton University Medical Center, and that Alegent would become the university's primary partner for its medical and other health professions students. The university did not disclose the terms of the deal.

April 27, 2012

The conference commissioners and other college football bigwigs who run the Bowl Championship Series emerged from a three-day meeting saying they had reached general agreement for the first time on creating a playoff to decide the sport's annual champion each year, the Associated Press reported. The BCS, the sport's current method of picking a winner each year, has been much derided by sports fans and others, but opposition to a playoff has come from some college presidents and from those in college football (particularly in the Big Ten and Pacific-12 Conferences) loyal to the bowl games, which many believe would be threatened under a playoff system.

Details of the new arrangement have yet to be worked out (and college presidents were generally not involved in the discussions), but a four-game playoff is likely. “Yes, we’ve agreed to use the P word,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told the AP.

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