The "block plan," in which students take one course at a time for a few weeks, rather than four or five courses over a semester, is attracting interest in Canada, The Globe and Mail reported. Quest University has adopted the system and three institutions -- Acadia University, Algoma University and the University of Northern British Columbia -- have started to explore the use of block schedules. Among the small number of institutions in the United States that use the system are Colorado, Cornell (Iowa) and Tusculum Colleges.
Higher Education Quick Takes
While some mark the New Year by noting words that are annoying, Wayne State University issues a list of words that are "regrettably neglected." This year's list: antediluvian, erstwhile, execrable, frisson, parlous, penultimate, Sisyphean, supercilious, transmogrify and truckle. Details on the words may be found here.
The University of Miami has agreed to pay $83,000 to a bankruptcy trustee to cover the costs of gifts made by Nevin Shapiro, a one-time booster of athletic programs who is now in jail over a Ponzi scheme that among other things financed his gifts to various Miami athletes, The Miami Herald reported. The deal states that the trustee will not seek to recover additional funds from the athletes and former athletes, meaning that they will not be forced to publicly discuss the gifts. Those gifts are believed to have included Cadillac Escalades, jewelry, party invites, champagne, lap dances and the services of prostitutes.
Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky has stopped a controversial merger between the University of Louisville's teaching hospital and a Roman Catholic health system. The idea for the merger provoked an uproar in the state last year. Beshear cited loss of public control over the hospital as a main reason for rejecting the merger, which he said had more risks than benefits, The Courier-Journal reported. The merger was controversial because the hospitals would all have had to follow Catholic health directives, including restrictions on abortion and sterilization, and some groups feared they would interfere with medical education at the public institution.
Israel's Academy of Sciences and Humanities organized a meeting last week at which hundreds of Israeli academics living abroad, as well as Jewish academics in other countries considering a move to Israel, met with representatives of Israeli universities, Ynet News reported. The event was part of an expanded effort in Israel to reverse its brain drain problem. More than 2,000 Israeli academics abroad (a majority of them in the United States) have told academy officials that they are interested in returning to Israel. Those who return will be eligible for tax breaks and other benefits.
In today’s Academic Minute, Robert Pallitto of Seton Hall University explains that the U.S. government’s approach to torture has changed little in the last century. (And while you're there, here was Monday's Academic Minute, in which the College of Saint Rose's Silvia Mejia discusses how advances in digital technology are allowing emigrants to maintain ties to home and family like never before.) Find out more about the Academic Minute here.
Mitt Romney, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, vowed Saturday that, as president, he would veto the federal DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for students brought by their parents to the United States without legal authorization who have completed high school and college, Reuters reported. Romney also vowed to oppose state versions of the law that grant such students in-state tuition rates. Governor Rick Perry's defense of such a law in Texas has been controversial with many Republican activists. In his speech Saturday, Romney said: "The question is if I were elected and Congress were to pass the Dream Act, would I veto it and the answer is yes.... For those that come here illegally, the idea of giving them in-state tuition credits or other special benefits, I find to be contrary to the idea of a nation of laws. If I'm the president of the United States I want to end illegal immigration so that we can protect legal immigration. I like legal immigration."
An investigation in The New York Times examines the increasingly complicated and increasingly lucrative contracts of head coaches of big-time college football programs. The bulk of compensation typically comes outside of the base salary and total compensation deals are in the multiple millions. The article focuses on the two coaches who will face off next week for the national championship: Nick Saban of the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and Les Miles of Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. The coaches can earn $600,000 and $500,000, respectively based on the athletic performance of their teams. They can earn $100,000 and $200,000, respectively, based on meeting certain academic goals for their players.
As the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s annual convention approaches, colleges are mounting substantial opposition to the scholarship reform measures that the Division I Board of Directors put in place this fall. Two weeks ago, the number of Division I colleges petitioning to overturn a rule that allowed for more substantial athletic scholarships reached a tipping point (125), immediately suspending the legislation and putting it up for potential elimination at the upcoming convention. Now, a rule allowing for multi-year scholarships faces a similar fate.
The latter rule seeks to eliminate the one-year limit on athletic scholarships, and the former would allow institutions to provide up to $2,000 per student in additional funds to help fill the gap between what full athletic scholarships now cover and the actual cost of attending college. The number of institutions requesting an override of the multi-year scholarship rule isn’t yet high enough to automatically suspend that legislation, but at least 75 have opposed it, qualifying it for reconsideration at the board’s Jan. 14 convention meeting. There, the board has three options to deal with both rules: eliminate them, do nothing and allow an override vote by all Division I members, or alter the proposals to address the concerns.
According to an NCAA statement, the colleges’ main complaints stemmed from desires to award athletic aid in the same way most academic aid is given out -- annually -- and worries over recruiting bidding wars and additional monitoring to make sure teams don’t over-promise aid. Mark Emmert, the NCAA president, has suggested that both rules can be modified to satisfy the colleges that want an override.
In Texas and in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Governor Rick Perry has boasted of his administration's efforts to promote job growth. As The Bryan/College Station Eagle reported, one of his largest such efforts was a $50 million grant in 2005 to create a business-university biomedical research center. He promised at the time -- when some questioned the size of the investment -- that the state would benefit from thousands of new jobs as well as life-saving medical breakthroughs. The Eagle examined the project today and found that the business that received more than 70 percent of the funds has since eliminated the jobs of half of its employees, and given up its role in the project. The university partner, the Texas A&M University System, has kept the program alive, and the program currently employs nine people.