Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 13, 2017

M.B.A. programs, in which male students have long been in the majority, are making progress in enrolling greater numbers of women, according to a new report by the Forté Foundation, which works with business schools to promote gender equity. A new report from the foundation found that its members have reached an average of 37.4 female enrollments in M.B.A. programs, up from 33.4 percent five years ago. Five years ago, the foundation had only two members that had reached 40 percent female enrollment. Today 17 business schools have enrollments that are at least 40 percent female.


December 13, 2017

A new analysis from the Center for American Progress found more than two dozen minority-serving institutions would fail a graduation rate requirement for funding in the proposed House update to the Higher Education Act.

The bill, which went through a markup in the House education committee Tuesday, would require that institutions seeking dedicated funds for minority-serving institutions graduate or transfer 25 percent of their students -- a first under federal law.

The Center for American Progress projected that 28 minority-serving institutions educating more than 73,000 students could lose access to Title III and Title V funds under that new requirement. Historically black colleges and universities and tribal colleges would be exempted from the new requirement. But the projections found four predominantly black institutions would lose dedicated federal funds, as would five Hispanic-serving institutions and five Asian-American and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander institutions.

December 13, 2017

Calls for the University of Oklahoma regent who said homosexuality is “wrong” to resign have escalated, with both students and outside groups joining in.

Kirk Humphreys, vice chairman of the Board of Regents, compared homosexuality to pedophilia in a heated exchange with a state lawmaker on a Sunday morning radio show, Flash Point.

Humphreys said, "Is homosexuality right or wrong? It's not relative, there's a right and wrong. If it's OK, then it's OK for everybody and, quite frankly, it's OK for men to sleep with little boys."

Since then, the university’s Queer Student Association has asked for Humphreys to step down.

He has since apologized in a statement to The Oklahoman.

“I regret that my comments on Flash Point regarding homosexuality were not clear and led some people to believe that I was equating homosexuality with pedophilia. That was not my intention or desire. I apologize for my lack of clarity and realize this has resulted in a strong reaction by some and has hurt people’s feelings.

“For clarification, my moral stance about homosexuality is that it is against the teachings of Scripture.

“Although I know this upsets some people, it is my belief. In America we have the right to believe as we choose and to freely express that belief.

For those that I have hurt, I’m sorry. For those who do not share my beliefs, I will defend your right to have a deeply held belief even if yours is different than mine.”

A reporter with The Oklahoman posted to Twitter that Humphreys did not attend the Tuesday regents' meeting.

Troy Stevenson, executive director of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer advocacy group Freedom Oklahoma, said “that’s not how a leader apologizes.” He also said Humphreys is slated to chair the regents next year.

December 13, 2017

Human rights groups are reporting that Iran’s Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence for a disaster medicine researcher, Ahmadreza Djalali. Amnesty International reported Tuesday that Djalali’s lawyers have learned that the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence “in a summary manner without granting them an opportunity to file their defense submissions.”

Djalali, an Iranian-born resident of Sweden, was arrested in April 2016 during an academic trip to Iran and convicted in October of spying in what Amnesty describes as a “grossly unfair” trial. In an August letter from Tehran’s Evin Prison, Djalali wrote that he was arrested for his refusal to use his academic and other ties in Europe to spy for Iran. Djalali holds a Ph.D. in disaster medicine from the Karolinska Institute, in Sweden, and taught at the Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale, in Italy, and at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, in Belgium.

December 13, 2017

Today on the Academic Minute, Michelle Pautz, associate professor of political science at the University of Dayton, discusses how bureaucrats are shown in a different light in the dark of the theater. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

December 13, 2017

Democrat senators have spoken out against the repeal of net-neutrality rules, which they believe will pave the way for the creation of so-called internet fast lanes and harm higher education.

The Federal Communications Commission, which has a Republican majority, is expected to vote Dec. 14. The FCC is expected to vote to repeal Obama-era rules that ensure internet providers treat all internet traffic equally.

In a letter addressed to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, outlined the ways in which the repeal of net neutrality could harm higher education, especially students and institutions in rural and low-income areas.

The letter was signed by 21 Democratic senators and urges the FCC chair to delay the vote “until you have fully examined the draft order’s impact on our nation’s students and their ability to learn.” The letter warned that repealing net neutrality could lead to a “tiered and compartmentalized internet” whose “characteristic openness is limited to those students, schools and institutions who can afford it.”

Higher education representative groups such as Educause, the American Council on Education and the Association of Research Libraries have been united in their condemnation of the FCC’s proposed rule change.

December 12, 2017

Cover of The Making of Jane Austen, by Devoney LooserInsider Higher Ed is pleased to announce the winner of the 2017 #IHEreaderschoice award: The Making of Jane Austen, by Devoney Looser, a professor of English at Arizona State University. The book was published by Johns Hopkins University Press, which also published the winners last year and the year before.

The press describes the book as answering the crucial question "Just how did Jane Austen become the celebrity author and the inspiration for generations of loyal fans she is today?" The answer comes from "the people, performances, activism and images that fostered Austen’s early fame, laying the groundwork for the beloved author we think we know."

Those interested in Looser's writing may also enjoy an essay she wrote for Inside Higher Ed, "Jane Austen, Yadda, Yadda, Yadda," about what to do when your academic specialty suddenly captures public attention.

Readers nominated books for consideration and then voted. Nominations were sought of university press books that would make the best gift for an academic this holiday season. The Making of Jane Austen won by a large margin. Five of those who voted for the winning book will receive copies. We'll also display it at next month's annual meeting of the Modern Language Association. We received 75 nominations, and more than 3,000 people voted.

We are pleased to also honor these runners-up (in order):

Inside Higher Ed thanks all of those who nominated books (you can see them all here) and those who voted. We especially want to thank the scholars who expand the world of ideas with their writing -- and the publishers who allow them to reach broader audiences. We hope that when you are looking for the perfect gift this holiday season, or any time of year, you will think about scholarly books.

Happy reading.

December 12, 2017

The president of the College of Saint Rose and the new chair of its Board of Trustees called for unity on campus Monday, writing in a message sent to employees that the campus will not flourish without unanimity of purpose.

The letter comes days after word of leadership discord and board resignations jolted the small private college in Albany, N.Y. The former chair of the college’s Board of Trustees resigned at the beginning of December amid board divisions and disagreements with its president. Several other trustees have resigned as well. The Albany Times-Union published excerpts from trustees’ resignation letters in which they called an October board meeting unprofessional and embarrassing.

In Monday’s message, the college’s president, Carolyn J. Stefanco, and new board chair, Sister Mary Anne Heenan, wrote that disagreements aired in the media are a distraction from taking on financial challenges.

“Neither of us are going anywhere, and the challenges that face higher education and Saint Rose are present with or without our leadership,” they wrote. “Together, we are committed to working with you.”

Without unified purpose working toward innovation and creating a campus for the future, Saint Rose will not flourish, they continued. The college will not be able to take desired actions like bringing back matches to retirement plans, increasing budgets, raising salaries or adding faculty lines.

Higher education’s paradigm has changed, the college’s leaders wrote, specifically referencing New York State’s new program offering free tuition to many students attending public colleges -- a program that many private colleges say hurts their enrollment prospects. The leaders also said that they are saddened to see the recent divisiveness associated with the college’s name.

“We are called to move beyond these feelings and work together,” they wrote.

The college has scheduled a “community conversation” for January about the issues raised.

December 12, 2017

Many at the University of Oklahoma are condemning anti-gay remarks made by a member of the university's board. NewOK reported that Kirk Humphreys, a member of the Board of Regents, said on a talk show, "Is homosexuality right or wrong? It's not relative, there's a right and wrong. If it's OK, then it's OK for everybody and, quite frankly, it's OK for men to sleep with little boys."

Many have called on Humphreys to resign. The university president, David Boren, released a statement saying that Humphreys was not speaking for the university and that "I do not share his views on this matter."

December 12, 2017

Eighteen climate researchers, 13 of whom come from the U.S., have won grants under France’s “Make Our Planet Great Again” initiative to attract foreign researchers on climate change, the Associated Press reported. French President Emmanuel Macron announced the cheekily named program -- which echoes President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan -- after Trump announced plans to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. The program offered 60 million euros (about $70 million) in total funding to foreign researchers who would relocate to France for multiyear projects, with grants ranging from €1 million to €1.5 million (about $1.2 million to $1.8 million).

One of the winners, Camille Parmesan, of the University of Texas at Austin, told the Associated Press that Macron’s call for climate researchers “gave me such a psychological boost, to have that kind of support, to have the head of state saying, ‘I value what you do.’” She will be studying the effects of climate change on wildlife from a research station in the Pyrenees.

A second grant competition will be held next year in cooperation with Germany. A total of 50 projects are expected to be funded.


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