Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Stacey Robertson of Bradley University explains how many of the tactics used by 19th-century abolitionists have been adapted and employed by those seeking to eradicate modern forms of slavery. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 3:00am

Three coaches of teams in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I men's basketball tournament are earning more than $4 million this year, three more earn more than $3 million, and 16 in all are paid more than $2 million, according to a database of coaches' pay published Wednesday by USA Today. The database, which includes information on most of the 68 teams participating in the tournament (except for those at several universities that declined to release the information), is accompanied by articles exploring the issues raised by the coaches' salaries, including how their institutions afford them and the disadvantage that less-wealthy colleges are at in the competition for top coaches.

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 4:23am

Two band faculty members at Florida A&M University were present during hazing of pledges who wanted to join an honorary band fraternity, several students have told authorities, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The hazing allegedly took place at the home of Diron Holloway, a FAMU professor who is director of the marching band's saxophone section, and involved paddling. Holloway and the other faculty member, Anthony Simons, a music professor, could not be reached for comment. The police report detailing the allegations is the latest development in the investigation of a student death last year that appears to be hazing-related. The university has maintained that it has long had a "no tolerance" approach to hazing, a stance undercut by the report of faculty involvement. The report was released Wednesday and both Holloway and Simmons were then placed on leave by the university, The Tallahassee Democrat reported.

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 4:26am

The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies plan to announce today a major new research program focused on big data computing, The New York Times reported. The agencies will pledge $200 million for the effort.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 3:00am

The Washington Internship Institute has selected a Vanderbilt University expert on experiential learning to lead the organization. Mark Taylor Dalhouse, founding director of Vanderbilt's Washington internship program and a lecturer in history and assistant dean at the university, will succeed Mary Ryan as the institute's president and CEO. The internship institute sponsors numerous programs that place American and foreign college students in government and international relations positions.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Illinois at Chicago and a faculty union seeking to be recognized have been fighting over whether a single unit can represent both tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty (as the union wants) or whether separate unions are needed (as the university wants). The union is now proposing that the university recognize two unions, but that may not happen either -- at least right now. Last week, an Illinois appeals court ruled that state law bars a single union for the faculty groups. Throughout the dispute, the university has said it would not object to two unions, and on Tuesday the union proposed just that. It stated that it would not appeal the court ruling, but asked the university to "voluntarily" negotiate with two faculty unions -- even though the only official filing of petitions has been on behalf of a single union.

"We take this step because, like you, we are concerned about the deteriorating relations between the faculty and the administration. Although the appeal process so far has only worsened those relations, we recognize and applaud the board’s acknowledgement that there is a problem," says the letter from UIC United Faculty, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors. "In urging you to begin negotiations with us as two bargaining units, we are, of course, only asking you to do what you have consistently said you wanted to do..... We ourselves are not convinced that two separate units is the best way to foster a better relationship between the faculty and the administration but, like the administration, we are very eager to make that relationship better....  If you will join us -- on your terms -- at the bargaining table, the turnaround can begin today."

The university indicated, however, that it may insist on the two unions starting from scratch obtaining signatures on petitions. A spokesman said via e-mail: "As a general policy and practice, the university does not voluntarily recognize unions as 'exclusive representatives' for collective bargaining on behalf of groups of employees. Majority interest is determined either by the union prevailing in a secret ballot election, or by investigation and certification by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board that the union has obtained authorization cards signed by a majority of employees in the bargaining unit."

Union leaders said that the university's response raised doubts about its earlier statements about being open to two unions. But the union has collected petitions for two unions and is prepared to go ahead one way or another, they said.

 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, David Clark of Alma College reveals deceptive behavior found in male wolf spiders. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 3:00am

The Asian University for Women was founded in 2008, in Bangladesh, with high hopes of providing a liberal arts education to women from that country and elsewhere in the region. While the university attracted many prominent backers in the United States, it has been hit over the last week by a series of articles in Bangladesh about the departure of senior leaders, delayed fund-raising and the failure to create an independent board, The Wall Street Journal reported. Jack R. Meyer, chair of the board of the university's fund-raising foundation, posted a letter on the university's website, in which he said that much of the criticism was valid, but reflected problems on which the university was working and that it had in many cases solved. He said that the university is making strong progress, and asked for critics to stop sending anonymous letters to donors, discouraging gifts.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 4:24am

A student at Indiana University at Bloomington is receiving rabies shots after a rabid bat bit him while he slept in a dormitory, the Associated Press reported. The student's roommate is also receiving the shots.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 3:00am

A Long Island district attorney on Tuesday announced that the College Board and the ACT had agreed to tighter security measures for those taking the SAT and the ACT. Nassau County authorities have charged 20 people with involvement in schemes in which supposed test-takers paid others to take the SAT for them. Among the new rules:

  • Test registrants will be required to upload a photograph of themselves when they register for the SAT or ACT. The photo will be printed on admissions tickets and the test site roster, and checked against the photo ID registrants provide at the test center, and the photo will accompany students’ scores as they are reported to high schools and colleges.
  • Uploaded photos will be retained in a database available to high school and college admissions officials.
  • All test registrants will be required to identify their high school during registration so that high school administrators receive students’ scores as well as their uploaded photos. 
  • All test registrants will provide their date of birth and gender, which will be printed on the test site roster.
  • Standby test registration will be eliminated.
  • Students will certify their identity in writing at the test center, and acknowledge the possibility of a criminal referral and prosecution for engaging in criminal impersonation.
  • Proctors will check students’ identification more frequently at test centers. IDs will be checked upon entry to the test center, re-entry to the test room after breaks, and upon collection of answer sheets.

Kathleen M. Rice, the Nassau County district attorney, said that "these reforms close a gaping hole in standardized test security that allowed students to cheat and steal admissions offers and scholarship money from kids who played by the rules."

Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (a critic of standardized testing), said that the new system "is likely to reduce significantly, if not eliminate entirely, the likelihood of impersonators entering an exam center." But he added that the new measures do "nothing" for "much more common types of cheating: collaboration among students once they are inside the test site or copying answers as the result of wandering eyeballs." He also questioned why the enhanced security rules, which he said were "technically feasible at least a decade ago," were adopted only after the Nassau County investigations.

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