For the first time ever, white students do not make up a majority among freshmen at the University of Texas at Austin. According to figures announced by the university Tuesday, white freshmen make up 47.6 percent of students, down from 51.1 percent a year ago. Hispanic enrollment now makes up 23.1 percent, up from 20.8 percent; black enrollment is up to 5.1 percent, from 4.9 percent; and Asian enrollment is 17.3 percent, down from 19.6 percent.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Chicago State University, which was in danger of losing its accreditation over very low retention rates and a graduation rate of 14 percent, is holding on to its accreditation, the Chicago Tribune reported. The university has started a series of programs to improve retention, responding to some of the concerns expressed by accreditors, and the university said that its retention rate of freshmen has started to increase. Still, the publicity about the problems may be having an impact. Enrollment of first-time, full-time freshmen is down 12.9 percent this fall, although many urban public universities are reporting increases.
In the latest twist in the legal fight over Fisk University's prized modern art collection, a judge has rejected a plan by Tennessee's attorney general to move it to a Nashville arts center, reopening the prospect that Fisk may be able to sell a half-share in the collection and allow it to be displayed elsewhere for part of the year, The Tennessean reported. Fisk, a financially troubled historically black college, says that it cannot afford to maintain the collection and that proceeds from a sale are needed to support the institution. The judge earlier rejected that idea, saying that Fisk accepted the collection as a bequest to maintain the art, not to raise money. But the judge found that the attorney general's response was not sufficiently long term in its approach. The ruling came on a day that Fisk students protested the plan to move the art to the local arts center.
Dismas Charities, which provides assistance to criminals seeking to re-enter society, has responded to an outpouring of criticism by giving up luxury suites it was renting at University of Louisville basketball and football games, at a total cost of $137,000 annually, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. While charity officials initially defended the rentals, a statement Monday said that the organization "heard the concerns of the community." The university agreed to release the charity from its contracts for the suites.
The Western Athletic Conference is suing the University of Nevada at Reno, California State University at Fresno and the Mountain West Conference over the decision of the two universities to leave WAC for Mountain West, The Reno Gazette-Journal reported. Details on the suit and the universities' responses were not available.
Several Canadian medical schools are rethinking the way they admit students, and are expressing a willingness to consider those without as much of a science background as has been the norm, Maclean's reported. Lewis Tomalty, vice dean for medical education at Queen’s University, said that while some science is "necessary," there are advantages to having students with a range of backgrounds. "We’re looking at how extensive [science prerequisites] have to be and are certainly looking to change the actual admissions requirements," he said.
Yale University announced Monday that it has agreed to work with the National University of Singapore to create a residential liberal arts college in Singapore. Yale's statement stressed that no final decisions have been made, that Singapore is paying all costs, and that the degrees awarded would not be Yale degrees. Yale has, to date, been cautious about the international branch campus movement many other institutions have embraced. While many details remain to be worked out, the discussions are not just about Yale providing assistance, but about the new institution being called the Yale-NUS College and being governed by a board with half of its members appointed by Yale. An editorial in The Yale Daily News urged caution on the idea. "This is ultimately a question of what Yale actually is. Is Yale a school rooted in its New England home, defined by its place and architecture in New Haven — a school that can and should only exist here? Or is Yale about education, wherever that may occur, whether in a classroom on Old Campus or on a computer screen in Turkey or at a liberal arts college in Singapore?" the editorial asked.
States are continuing to develop their education data systems, and to link multiple systems when they have them, the State Higher Education Executive Officers said in a new report. The survey, which found that 45 states have at least one student unit record and 29 states have between two and five systems, updates a 2007 study that the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems produced for the Lumina Foundation for Education.
Columbia University researchers have found that 25 out of 32 highly paid consultants to medical device companies failed to reveal, or their journals failed to reveal, those payments in subsequent journal articles, The New York Times reported. The consultants involved were each paid at least $1 million each. “We found a massive, dramatic system failure,” said David J. Rothman, one of the Columbia scholars who did the study.
Martin Samuels, a Harvard University medical professor, has started a new company that will provide continuing medical education that is different from many of the existing programs in that it will not be subsidized by the pharmaceutical industry, The Boston Globe reported. The influence of drug company money on programs in which medical professionals learn about new treatments has been widely criticized, but some have noted the lack of programs that are totally free of the pharmaceutical cash. The new business will get its revenue directly from universities, hospitals and other organizations that want to provide continuing medical education -- and will not take any money from the drug industry.