Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 26, 2012

Students at the University of California at Irvine have recaptured the world record for the largest dodgeball game, The Los Angeles Times reported. More than 6,000 players participated to set the record.

 

September 26, 2012

An academic at the University of New England, in Australia, has lost his job over a poem he wrote to offer sympathy to a colleague who lost his job, The Australian reported. The poem referred to senior officials in the music program by their instruments, calling them names such as Oboe, Horn and Organ. The university considered the poem a work "calculated to bring senior officers of the university into disrepute." After various letters from lawyers, the poem is no longer online, nor is its author working at the university.

 

September 26, 2012

Wetakeyourclass.com, one of several websites featured in an Inside Higher Ed story last week about services that offer to complete a student’s online course for a fee, has been taken offline.

Inside Higher Ed received a call Tuesday from someone claiming to be the site’s owner. The caller, Kevin, who declined to give his last name, said the site was not all that lucrative and with the added attention garnered last week, he decided to take it down. He added that he does not think sites like We Take Your Class are a problem; the problem, he believes, is that education is structured in a way that makes it easy to cheat. 

September 26, 2012

The National Science Board added its voice Tuesday to the chorus of groups and agencies expressing concern about the future of public research universities. Its report, Diminishing Funding and Rising Expectations: Trends and Challenges for Public Research Universities, argues that declines in state funding, which it documents, "threaten the ability of major public research universities to educate new scientists and engineers, recruit and retain the best faculty and students, and continue performing top-quality research."

September 26, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Jason Fridley of Syracuse University explains how and when many invasive plants outcompete indigenous species. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

September 25, 2012

Colleges in Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association are increasingly attracting athletics director candidates from Division I universities, USA Today reported. Officials say that they are leaving programs with much larger budgets to apply for Division III jobs out of frustration with the scandals and pressures of big-time programs.

"While I may not be dealing with multi-million dollar budgets, household-name coaches [and] me-first donors ... I am seeing the last bastion of true college athletics every day: student-athletes playing truly for the love of the game," said Scott Koskoski, athletics director of Division III Chatham University, who formerly held positions in Division I programs at the University of Denver and Temple University.

September 25, 2012

The psychometric test used by Israeli universities to admit students has for the first time asked students to write a short composition, Haaretz reported. Educators said that they wanted a writing sample to reflect the role of writing in the university curriculum, and many students who took the test said that they were pleased to have the chance to demonstrate their composition skills.

 

September 25, 2012

The 10-person commission charged with plotting the future of the University of North Texas at Dallas released its recommendations Monday, largely backing a consultant's advice that the university focus on hybrid learning, minimizing the time to degree, and aligning courses of study with regional needs.

In 2011 the university commissioned 10 leaders from higher education, business, and local government, including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, to develop a strategy to expand the university from 2,000 students to 16,000 students while decreasing the cost of education and improving graduation rates. The Commission on Building the University of the 21st Century reviewed reports from the consulting firm Bain & Company, brought in on a pro bono basis in 2011 to suggest long-term plans for the 11-year-old institution, and from a group of faculty and staff who, critical of Bain’s analysis, drew up their own recommendations. While Bain advised increasing teaching loads and freshmen enrollment while decreasing the array of majors and integrating online courses, the faculty plan proposed focusing on transfer and underprepared students, developing a liberal arts core, and emphasizing research.

The commission’s recommendations, which its members will vote on a vote of who? dl Tuesday, largely fall in line with Bain’s suggestions. The 10 strategies the commission lists include developing hybrid courses that blend in-person and online instruction, increasing freshman enrollment, providing students with the option for year-round instruction, and working with local business leaders to develop degree programs that mesh with local workforce needs. The report states that the university will have a student focus and will value teaching over research, but acknowledges as one of its guiding principles, “Faculty play a key role in the success of students and UNT Dallas,” and suggests a comprehensive development program to engage faculty and staff in this “new model.”

September 25, 2012

Bridgepoint Education Inc. announced Monday that its Ashford University has eliminated 450 positions in admissions and reassigned 400 other admissions employees, half to student services and half to a new department of "student inquiry." The moves are aimed at improving student success, the company said. Ashford is facing a two-pronged accreditation challenge. It is attempting to comply with compliance requests from its current regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, following a rejected bid for accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges senior college commission.

Ashford says the department of student inquiry will "work with prospective students to ensure they are sufficiently prepared for the demands of a university education."

September 25, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill discusses an ongoing archaeological dig in Israel that recently unearthed an ancient mosaic floor. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

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