The social media site LinkedIn has declared college adjunct to be one of the fastest growing job titles in the United States, The Economist reported. The LinkedIn analysis is based on people adding the job title, and is offered as an example of how LinkedIn can analyze labor market trends. Some commenting on the article suggest that LinkedIn may be a better reflection of the population that is job hunting or in need of better work, not the entire labor market. The Economist's comment on adjuncts: "an ill-paid, overworked species of academic."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Another group of college presidents and chancellors has been invited to the White House for a meeting on college affordability and productivity. Details about the meeting, scheduled for March 23, are scant, including whether President Obama will attend (as he did when another group of college presidents was invited to White House in December).
According to an email forwarded to Inside Higher Ed by a person connected to an invited guest, "administration officials will engage presidents and chancellors in exploring constructive solutions to bringing down college costs, making higher education more affordable and attainable, and regaining America’s global leadership in higher education attainment."
The White House has focused increasingly on college costs and productivity as Obama ramps up his re-election campaign, including proposals to tie some forms of financial aid to measures of "value" in higher education.
Canadian athletic officials gathered last weekend to discuss what they consider a worrisome trend: Most of the top female hockey players in the country go to colleges and universities in the United States, The Edmonton Journal reported. Many said that Canadian universities have failed to put enough money into their programs, frequently operating with just a head coach, and not the assistant coaches found on teams in the U.S.
Sessions on alien spirituality, ghost hunting equipment and a case study in alien abduction headlined the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Paranormal Symposium, which included 17 hours of “logical, scientific and rational explanations of UFOs and other paranormal phenomenon.” About 20 people, including at least two faculty members, attended the third-annual weekend event, the Omaha World-Herald reported. It wasn’t immediately clear whether any aliens joined in the festivities.
Dave Pares, a professor of geography and meteorology, was among those leading discussions on the presence of life in outer space. "There's been more than one alien civilization that's been here, observing," Pares told the World-Herald. "They are here now, observing."
The extraterrestrial seems to be a popular topic at the college. Nebraska-Omaha has a Paranormal Society, a UFO Study Group and two weekly campus radio shows devoted to alien life.
The Russell Group, an invitation-only organization of British research universities roughly equivalent to the Association of American Universities, announced Monday that it is admitting four new members -- more than have ever been added to the organization since its founding in 1994. The new members are Durham University, Queen Mary University of London, the University of Exeter and the University of York. Prior to Monday's announcement, the Russell Group had 20 members. Times Higher Education noted that the gain for the four universities is a loss to the 1994 Group, which Russell's newest members left, and which represented other institutions not in the more exclusive group.
The hit comedy "Big Bang Theory," about a group of scientists, has had Stephen Hawking plot lines. BBC reported that Hawking has now filmed a cameo that will air on the show next month. In the show, he will interact with Sheldon Cooper, known for being socially awkward.
Peter Thiel is the investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist who likes to deride college as pointless. He even offers fellowships for talented students to drop out of or stay out of college. So what's he doing this spring? He'll be teaching at Stanford University, Reuters reported. His course, "Computer Science 183: Startup," is already full, and students are enthusiastic.
Some at Stanford question the idea of having as an instructor someone who questions the rationale behind college. Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Stanford's Rock Center of Corporate Governance, said, "It's hypocritical, but I'm not surprised.... The same people who go around bashing education are the most educated. What's he going to do? Tell students, 'When you graduate from my class, drop out right after that?' "
That may just be correct. Thiel, through a spokesman, told the news service of his course: "If I do my job right, this is the last class you'll ever have to take."
The Towson University chapter of Youth for Western Civilization, a group that says it promotes traditional American values but that many critics view as anti-minority, caused a furor on the campus last week. The Baltimore Sun reported that the group's members chalked "white pride" in several campus locations. "As a black student, those words scared and concerned me," said Kenan Herbert, president of the Black Student Union. "A lot of other students and I feel unsafe with this organization being on campus." The university says that the chalkings are protected by the First Amendment.
The University of California at Berkeley has demoted Diane Leite, formerly an assistant vice chancellor, for giving several raises to a purchasing manager, Jonathan Caniezo, with whom she was having a sexual relationship, Bay Area News Group reported. The manager's immediate supervisor, who reported to Leite, objected to the raises as inappropriate. Between 2007 and 2010, a period of deep budget cuts for the university, the manager's pay was increased in a series of raises from $70,000 to more than $110,000. Leite and her lawyer did not respond to requests for comment. Her pay was cut from $188,531 to $175,000.