Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 17, 2012

California State University is planning to send letters to hundreds of thousands of applicants to the system's campuses, warning them that if voters in November defeat the governor's proposal to raise taxes, far fewer slots will be available, The Los Angeles Times reported. To drive home the point, Cal State has decided not to make admissions decisions until after Election Day. Typically, the university system starts admitting students in October. Anti-tax advocates are accusing the university of inappropriately campaigning for the governor's plan. But a spokeswoman for Cal State said that "we are just laying out the facts of what the budget is and what impact this will have on our budget."

September 17, 2012

WitsOn (for Women in Technology Sharing Online) will start October 1 as a six-week effort to encourage female undergraduates pursing science and technology degrees. The program will match students who sign up with a mentor for six weeks of online discussions, with the aim of encouraging these students to then find in-person mentors. The program is organized by Harvey Mudd College and Piazza (a social learning platform). While a number of colleges and universities have signed on as institutional participants (meaning they will publicize the effort) students at any college can join.

 

September 17, 2012

Three campuses -- the University of Texas at Austin, North Dakota State University and Hiram College -- received bomb threats Friday that were taken seriously enough to lead to mass evacuations, the Associated Press reported. But in all three cases, the threats appeared to be false and students and employees were permitted to return to the campuses.

 

September 17, 2012

Cornell University announced Friday that it is severing business ties with Adidas, finding that the company does not live up to what the university considers minimal acceptable standards for treating its workers. Cornell's statement specifically referenced the company's failure to pay severance to workers at a factory that was closed in Indonesia in 2010. If Adidas should change its policies, Cornell would welcome the chance to resume work with the company. Adidas officials did not respond to a request for comment. Cornell's royalties from the company have been modest in recent years, $1,000 to $2,000, according to a spokesman.

 

 

September 17, 2012

Close to 1,000 people held a rally at Pennsylvania State University Saturday to call on the institution's Board of Trustees to resign, The Centre Daily Times reported. Attendees were angry that the board fired Joe Paterno as head football coach last year and subsequently largely accepted the analysis of an investigation into the Jerry Sandusky scandal that, among other things, was critical of Paterno (who died before the inquiry concluded). Franco Harris, a college and professional football star (who played at Penn State under Paterno), referred to the night the board fired the coach this way: "It only took one night, just one night for the BOT to lay a path of destruction never before seen on any college campus."

September 17, 2012

The National Labor Relations Board, in a 2-to-1 vote, on Friday ordered the counting of ballots in a vote by adjuncts at Duquesne University on whether to unionize. The ballots have been impounded, uncounted, pending consideration of the board of an appeal by Duquesne, which argued that its adjuncts should not be permitted to unionize because the institution is Roman Catholic and a union might infringe on the institution's religious freedom. But the board order said that it made sense to count the ballots because, if the union bid is defeated, there would be no reason to consider the appeal. The decision said that Duquesne's appeal could proceed should the votes favor a union. The effort to unionize was organized with United Steelworkers.

September 14, 2012

The day after the University of Tulsa announced the firing of President Geoffrey Orsak -- after only 74 days in office -- the university issued a vague statement that did not offer any explanation for the action. "Discretion and university policy dictate that I not discuss the specific circumstances surrounding the decision, except to underscore my confidence in the collective wisdom of the University of Tulsa Board of Trustees," said a statement by Duane Wilson, the board chair. The statement called the board's decision "unavoidable," but offered no information on why this was the case.

 

September 14, 2012

Today Inside Higher Ed introduces a new feature: a monthly contest in which we ask readers to suggest a caption for our higher ed-themed cartoons, drawn by Matthew Henry Hall. The first cartoon is here, as are the rules. We encourage your participation -- there are opportunities not just to propose pithy and clever captions yourself, but to endorse (and eventually vote on) those you like. And the contest winner will receive a signed version of the cartoon and a $100 gift certificate to Amazon.

We welcome your participation -- click here to have at it.

September 14, 2012

As participation in higher education worldwide rises and geographic barriers and boundaries fall, collaboration on some postsecondary issues has increased. But most countries and regions still operate independently on many fronts, both purposefully (because countries want to go their own way) and less so, because of inadequate communication and cooperation. That fragmentation can be particularly vexing in areas such as quality assurance, and it is a major reason for a new endeavor announced Thursday by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Through the new CHEA International Quality Group, the council -- which represents American colleges and universities that are accredited by agencies that it recognizes -- aims to bring together colleges, accreditors, quality assurance agencies and associations from around the world to work together on dealing with quality-related issues in higher education. CHEA itself has been active in international matters, setting aside part of its annual meeting for an international forum and working with entities such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and UNESCO on issues such as diploma mills.

But Judith S. Eaton, CHEA's president, said council officials believed that the "growth in worldwide activity of our institutions, through study abroad and branch campuses, and the expanding international activity of U.S. accreditors" -- as well as the explosion of issues such as cross-border education, for-profit higher education, and massive open online courses -- made this a logical time to expand its involvement. The council does not plan either to accredit institutions or to recognize international quality assurance agencies as it does U.S. accreditors.

"We're trying to create a forum in which we and our partners around the world can work together on quality assurance issues," she said. The new entity, which will be part of CHEA, plans to convene discussions, conduct research, share news and best practices, and provide consulting services on quality assurance issues.

September 14, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Larisa DeSantis of Vanderbilt University explains the evolutionary strategy that allowed mammals to survive multiple shifts in the Earth’s climate. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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