Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, January 27, 2011 - 3:00am

Intel Corp. plans to establish a series of science and technology centers on American university campuses over five years, ultimately pouring $100 million directly into academic research, the company announced Wednesday. The first of the centers, at Stanford University, will focus on visual computing experiences for consumers and professionals, the computer company said. Such corporate support for research is not uncommon, but the size and scope of this announcement is.

Thursday, January 27, 2011 - 3:00am

Louisiana's Board of Regents has identified more than 450 academic programs at the state's public universities that will have to defend themselves against potential elimination because of low enrollments, The Advocate of Baton Rouge reported. The regents said the larger number of programs targeted -- the board has cut a total of 245 programs the last two years -- was necessary if Louisiana's public universities are to remain efficient and focused as the state faces continuing budget cuts. Programs will have until February to argue that they should be consolidated or continued instead of cut, the Advocate reported; a final report is due in April.

Thursday, January 27, 2011 - 3:00am

Utah State University has agreed to settle a lawsuit by the parents of a freshman who died from consuming vodka in a hazing incident in 2008, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The parents never sought money, but agreed to drop the suit in return for what they said they wanted from the litigation: pledges by the university to improve oversight and guidance of the Greek system to prevent such tragedies.

Thursday, January 27, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Naval Academy and Bruce Fleming, an English professor, have reached an agreement to end a complaint by Fleming that he was denied raises after he wrote an op-ed criticizing the admissions policies at Annapolis, The Washington Post reported. While details of the agreement were not released, an announcement about a federal investigation said that it had "uncovered evidence indicating that USNA illegally denied the employee a merit pay increase because of his public statements." The Fleming op-ed said that Annapolis was using a differential admissions system in which minority applicants were admitted with substantially lower academic credentials than required for white applicants.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - 3:00am

A local alumnus and his wife are giving the University of California at Los Angeles $100 million to strengthen (and rename) its School of Public Affairs and proceed with a hotel and conference center that some faculty oppose, the Los Angeles Times reported. A news release from the public affairs school said it would be renamed the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin School of Public Affairs, and said its $50 million share would be used mostly to build endowments to provide graduate student fellowships, faculty teaching and research, and civic engagement. The Times story said the other funds would help UCLA build a new facility to replace its current faculty club, and that the project is being challenged as unnecessary and risky at a time of financial strain.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Gary Lefort of American International College reveals how large chain stores and restaurants consider and adapt to cultural differences when launching an international operation. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Southern California Center for Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice is hosting a conference on admissions reform starting today. On Tuesday, it released a report analyzing the growth of the enrollment management industry. The report, "Enrollment Management, Inc.: External Influences on Our Practice," by Scott Andrew Schulz and Jerry Lucido, looks at the history and breadth of the field, and calls for closer examination of whether it is advancing educational values. "Vigorous questions about direction are required when the pursuit of prestige and revenue are becoming increasingly normative while conflicting with the wider social goals and benefits that serve as core values at the heart of many published institutional missions," the report concludes.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - 3:00am

The Apollo Group has announced that it will shut down Meritus University, its new Canadian division. The statement cited a failure to attract enough students, and said that the university would help students finish their programs through the University of Phoenix.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - 3:00am

Legislation proposed in Massachusetts would require much greater disclosure of financial assets by the state’s “private non-profit colleges and universities and their employees or consultants,” according to Fenton, an organization that creates campaigns for causes, including this legislation. Capital market investments, consultant fees, and real estate investments are some of the types of financial disclosures the bill would mandate. State Sen. Patricia Jehlen, who helped introduce the legislation, said her support came from reading a Tellus foundations report (pdf) released last year documenting massive losses taken by six Massachusetts university endowments from risky investments that went sour during the financial crisis. She said that because university investments are tied up with the “enormous public subsidies these institutions are granted, … the public has a right to know more.” Richard Doherty, the president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts, sharply disagreed: “The premise of the bill is that private colleges are not fulfilling their charitable not-for-profit mission,” he said. “When people say things that are untrue, we’re going to be opposed to that.” The bill currently has the support of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is upset about layoffs that followed the endowments' losses at some universities.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - 3:00am

The Faculty Senate of Idaho State University voted Monday to call for a faculty-wide vote of no confidence in President Arthur C. Vailas, the Idaho State Journal reported. The 27-point resolution, approved by a 19-6 vote with three abstentions, says the standing of the university has eroded during his more than four-year tenure. It calls Vailas's administration disorganized and dysfunctional, and asserts that faculty members fear retribution for speaking out (Habib Sadid, a tenured engineering professor, was fired when his critiques of the administration allegedly crossed the line from dissent to abusiveness). The resolution also questions Vailas's integrity, accusing him of claiming credit for work done by others and of spreading information that faculty members "believe to be untrue or unsubstantiated or unsupportable by known evidence and history."

Mark Levine, a university spokesman, issued a statement defending Vailas's leadership in transforming Idaho State from a regional institution to a "destination university." Levine called the accusations untrue and misleading while citing the improved financial position of the university and its classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as one of 98 institutions with high research activity. "In summary, all the things that should be up are up and all things that should be down are down," the statement reads. Levine also lamented the personal nature of the dispute, referring to it as "character assassination and vindictive vitriol."

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