Posted on December 29th, 2007 in Uncategorized | No Comments »
Inside Higher Ed reported recently that attrition rate for students in Ph.D. programs seem to be going down. Except in the humanities, where getting that doctorate is still as hard as ever.
The Council of graduate schools completed a major study recently on the issue of degree completion among doctoral students. Inside Higher Ed reported that
The finding on attrition is significant because one of the major reasons for the study and one of the top concerns in graduate schools is that so many students never finish – leaving some fields facing shortages of doctorates and leaving many students who drop out feeling like they wasted years of their lives. The data on Ph.D. attrition rates are part of a larger analysis of 10 years of statistics on who starts and finishes Ph.D. programs.
The study showed that for some reason it takes much longer to finish a Ph.D. in the humanities than in other academic disciplines.
Engineering and life sciences doctoral candidates tend to complete their degrees the most quickly according to the study. Social science Ph.D. programs seem to take longer – but not as long as humanities programs. In Engineering and life sciences, most candidates finish in less than seven years. In the humanities most candidates take more than ten years to complete their doctoral program.
Posted on December 26th, 2007 in Uncategorized | No Comments »
I'm not much into marijuana, but I personally think hemp would be a marvelous cash crop for many farmers in America. So I was pleased when I read recently that a federal judge had given a short tongue lashing to the Drug Enforcement Agency because the agency was still "considering" a request from North Dakota State University to carry out some research into the agricultural potential of hemp even though the application was now eight years old.
The Prairie Star reported recently that NDSU may soon be able to move forward with hemp research. North Dakota's state legislature instructed the land grant university to look into hemp production back in 1999 and the university has been mostly waiting on the DEA ever since.
Farmers in neighboring Canada have been growing hemp as an industrial crop for a decade now.
According to The Prairie Star, the DEA is now acting on the application because of "a federal judge admonished the agency for its non-action." The admonition came as part of the ruling on a lawsuit brought by two North Dakota farmers who wanted to grow industrial hemp. They lost the suit, but they are appealing that verdict according to news sources. At issue in the lawsuit is the question of whether marijuana and hemp are the same thing, which is something like fighting about whether Yorkies and Great Danes are the same thing…
Whether the farmers win or lose that argument in court, the North Dakota state legislature has now appropriated funding for industrial hemp a least a couple of times and seems to support state farmers who want to grow the crop.
UK420 described the agricultural benefits of the crop:
Producers found hemp to be a profitable oilseed crop with large worldwide demand. Hemp is also a good rotational disease-breaker, particularly for scab which plagues northeastern North Dakota farmers.
That article goes on to describe efforts in the US Congress to clear up the issue.
Posted on December 24th, 2007 in Uncategorized | No Comments »
The Chronicle of Higher Education has picked up a story that's likely to generate some heat in the Mountain State.
According to a story in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, West Virginia University revised the academic transcript of Heather Bresch, the chief operating officer of a leading generic drugs company and daughter of West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III. The revisions make it appear as though she was awarded an M.B.A. by the university when, according to the Pittsburgh paper, she never completed the credits required for the degree.
Bresch became chief operating officer of the pharmaceutical company in October of this year. The Pittsburgh paper claims that it called WVU to ask about her credentials for a story on the promotion and was originally told that she did not hold an M.B.A. The university later "reversed itself," the paper says, and blamed the problem on a clerical error.
Milan Puskar, West Virginia University's biggest donor, chairs the company board for Mylan, where Bresch is now CEO. Bresch reportedly went to both high school and college with WVU President Mike Garrison.
Both of Charleston, WV's, daily papers have published stories on the accusations of favoritism. The Charleston Daily Mail reported that Governor Manchin's office is deferring all questions to WVU. The Charleston Gazette's article carried statements by WVU spokeswoman Amy Neil. Neil explained that records from the College of Business were not transferred to the registrar's office, creating the mix up. But the Pittsburgh Gazette's story looked closely at the process of recording students grade at WVU. The Gazette quotes experts who see problems with Neil's account.
The Chronicle's story has drawn almost two dozen comments.
Posted on December 21st, 2007 in Uncategorized | No Comments »
The University of Missouri has picked a new president: former Sprint CEO Gary Forsee.
Frosee was the unanimous choice to lead the university's four campuses, according to the Associated Press. He becomes Mizzou's 22nd president, replacing Elson Floyd who left in April for the top job at Washington state university.
Forsee is a Missouri native from Kansas City and a 1972 graduate of the University of Missouri-Rolla.
Forsee left his position as chairman, president and CEO of Sprint Nextel in October amidst trouble at the wireless carrier. Rumor has it that he received a severance of over $55 million.
While Forsee has no experience in higher education, but the board of curators at Mizzou evidently liked his business experience, according to Ozark First.
Posted on December 20th, 2007 in Uncategorized | No Comments »
With the regular season over in college football, the big news of course is the move of West Virginia Coach Rich Rodriguez to the University of Michigan.
The Charleston, WV, Daily Mail ran a story this week about Rodriguez. Some of the details are beginning to come out. and just about everybody in the state from the governor on down is unhappy with someone over how the situation was handled.
I got to listen to most of an insightful radio talk show Wednesday. Hoppy Kercheval interviewed two WVU donors who were friends of coach Rodriguez. The Daily Mail story covered the show in more detail, but the short version is that (according to the two donors), WVU made promises to Rodriguez last year that it evidently decided not to keep and Rodriguez left because he didn't feel like he could truth the school any longer.
You may recall that a year ago Rodriguez was mentioned for the job as coach at Alabama. The story seems to be that WVU sat down with him then and asked what they needed to do to keep him. Rodriguez gave the university a list of things he felt would make the Mountaineers a competitive football team year after year. And they agreed to do those things. (Of course he wanted a pay raise, too, I think.) Now, a year later, WVU was back pedalling on some some of those promises. And Rodriguez left as a result.
Of course, the WVU administration has a different story. But what that story is isn't very clear at the moment.
Posted on December 16th, 2007 in Uncategorized | No Comments »
Inside Higher Ed has an excellent and detailed analysis of the politics of financial aid and how the tension between need-based aid and merit-based aid is coming to a head in Tennessee.
According to state data for the 2005-06 academic year, Tennessee spends two and a half times as much on merit-based financial aid as it does on need-based financial aid. In Florida the ratio is higher, at three to one. And in Georgia the ratio is much worse for need-based aid.
Merit-based aid comes largely in the form of programs like Georgia's Hope Scholarship, funded by state lottery. These types of merit-based programs promise students scholarships to public institutions in their state if they meet certain academic criteria in high school.
The problem is that family prosperity breeds academic merit. Statistically, middle and upper class students do better in high school than students from poor families because the more well off students have a better family suppose system. Poor students often divide their time in much of high school between their studies and a job while students who comes from higher income homes more often avoid that dilemma. The result is that a disproportionate amount of merit-based aid go to students with comparatively smaller financial needs. And in a state like Tennessee, where more than two out of every three aid dollars is awarded based on merit, competition for need-based aid becomes tighter.
I remember the political blood bath in Tennessee over whether or not to have a state lottery. Social conservatives lost and the state lottery has become wildly successful – so successful now that it has more money than it can spend on merit-based scholarships.
Tennessee is now looking at ways to funnel some lottery funds (or at least interest generated by those funds) into need-based aid. And the issue is developing some political heat in the state…
Posted on December 15th, 2007 in Uncategorized | No Comments »
Several sources are reporting that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has placed Texas Tech on probation for "insufficient reporting of general education data," as the school's chancellor Kent Hance, puts it.
Hance points out that the school has been cited for violating only one of SACS's 87 standards.
One blogger summed up the amazement of many over the probation:
Wow! It's not everyday that you see a major state university being placed on probation for not being rigorous enough (or in this case proving that they are).
The schools says that its actual accreditation status is in no real danger, but they probably all say that…
Posted on December 14th, 2007 in Uncategorized | No Comments »
The Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of memphis is moving, according to BizJournal. The law school's new address will be in the old Customs House and Post Office building in the 1 N. Front in Memphis' historic district.
The move won't be completed until August of 2009 when classes open at the new location. But with $5.3 million in donations already on hand and another $9.8 million in pledges already made to fund the move, U. Memphis got the keys to their new building handed to them earlier this month.
The Memphis downtown area has become the hub of the city's legal community, according to a release published by the university. The new address, according to the release, will put the law school in "a magnificent building on the Mississippi River at the intersection of Madison and Front streets." The building was described as "neo-classical" and the release noted that the Federal Courthouse was formerly housed here.
The university's release also pointed out that the relocation "will add further momentum to the extraordinary downtown renaissance in the city."
Posted on December 13th, 2007 in Uncategorized | No Comments »
Virginia Governor Tim Kaine has proposed that the state issue $1.65 billion in bonds to pay for construction and renovation at the state's college's and universities, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
The bond package will be part of the two-year state budget proposal the governor is scheduled to announce Monday. That means it must be approved by the Virginia General Assembly first and then presented to voters as a referendum in November. Five years ago Virginia voters approved a similar bond referendum for $846 million with over 70% of those who went to the polls voting in favor of it.
The single biggest portion of the money wold go to Virginia Tech. Tech would get almost $118 million out of the bond. Of that, $59 million would go for construction of medical school in Roanoke, Va.
Among the other funding:
- The University of Virginia would get $115 million from the bond.
- Virginia Commonwealth University would get $105 million.
- George Mason University would get about $105 million.
- James Madison University would get almost $97 million.
- Old Dominion University would get just over $87 million.
- The College of William & Mary would get $84 million.
- Norfolk State would get $79 million.
- Christopher Newport University would get about $77 million.
- Virginia State University would get about $73 million.
- Radford University would get about $71 million.
- Virginia Military Institute would get $35 million.
Details of the proposal are available online.
Posted on December 13th, 2007 in Uncategorized | No Comments »
A news snippet from the Chronicle of Higher Ed recently mentioned that Muhlenberg College has become one of America's top ten Jewish school as measured by the percentage of the student body that is Jewish. About one-third of Muhlenberg College's student body is Jewish.
One reason that piece of information was news is that Muhlenberg College is a Lutheran school.
I decided to look around and see what I could find on the topic of top Jewish schools. The Chronicle doesn't mention a specific source. I did find this, though. It's the Insiders Guide to College Schools published by Reform Judaism magazine. Based on their numbers, the ten colleges with the largest percentage of students are Jewish are:
- Yeshiva University in New York City, where 93.5% of the student body is Jewish
- Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, where 61.7% of the student body is Jewish
- Barnard College in New York City, where 43.5% of the student body is Jewish
- SUNY College at Oneonta, NY, where 35.7% of the student body is Jewish
- Emory University in Atlanta, GA, where 33.3% of the student body is Jewish
- Pratt Institute in New York City, where 32.0% of the student body is Jewish
- University of Hartford in Hartford, CT, where 31.9% of the student body is Jewish
- george washington University in Washington, DC, where 31.6% of the student body is Jewish
- Tufts University in Medford, MA, where 31.6% of the student body is Jewish
- Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, where 31% of the student body is Jewish