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Higher Education News

World & Nation

- The American College Health Association (ACHA) has deemed it “epidemiologically valuable to identify disease burden and population-based attack rates of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) on college campuses.” The Association has asked institutions to voluntarily submit weekly reports listing occurrences of illnesses with flu-like symptoms.

For the week ending September 11, 6,432 new suspected cases were reported at 253 colleges participating in a voluntary survey, bringing the total reported since August 22 to 13,434. Eighty-three percent of the campuses participating in the survey reported cases of ILI that week. New cases are reported each Monday at www.acha.org.

- Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat known for his strong support of the National Institutes of Health, will replace the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy as chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. 

“This is an opportunity to lead the charge on health care, on education and on making sure that working families get a better share of the dollar and to help do something to strengthen the pensions and retirement systems in this country,” Harkin told Radio Iowa, “all issues I care very deeply about and affect every Iowan and every American, so I look forward to working on those issues.”

Harkin is considered a friend of higher education and a strong backer of two-year institutions.


- The AFL-CIO has a new president. Richard L. Trumka, a third-generation coal miner and former president of the United Mine Workers who led the historic and successful nine-month strike against the Pittston Coal Company’s attempt to stop funding health care and retirement, was elected in September. He’s vowed to improve labor’s image, especially with younger workers.
Trumka succeeds John Sweeney who led the federation for the past 14 years, and will be joined in leadership by two women, Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker.


Faculty & Staff


-Four out of five Ph.D. recipients who held paid teaching assistantships said that the assistantships prolonged their doctoral education, according to a survey by the Council of Graduate Schools. 

For research assistantships, the survey found the impact varied by academic field. Students in the social sciences and humanities said their assistantships lengthened their time in the program, but students in mathematics, engineering, and the sciences said their assistantships helped them complete their program more quickly.

Other findings from the survey, which covered graduates of doctoral programs at 17 universities in the U.S. and Canada and was conducted as part of the Council’s Ph.D. Completion Project, were that financial support and quality mentors were major factors in the ability of Ph.D. students to complete their studies.

“Ph.D. Completion and Attribution: Findings From Exit Surveys of Ph.D. Completers” is available at www.phdcompletion.org.


Professional News


The United States is falling behind the rest of the world in scientific research, according to James D. Adams, a professor of economics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in a study, “Is the U.S. Losing Its Preeminence in Higher Education?” from the National Bureau of Economic Research Working Papers series.
The American share of world scientific citations dropped from 52 percent in 1992 to 42 percent in 2003, Adams notes, and there has been a steady decline in the rate of increase in the number of scholarly articles published over the past three decades. He attributes the drop-off to a decline in state support for public research universities.
His study of 110 public and private universities found that from 1982 to 1999, tuition revenue at private universities grew 124 percent while tuition revenue combined with state appropriations grew only 46 percent at public universities. No other variables accounted for the differences, he wrote.
You can dowload a copy for a fee at www.nber.org/papers/w15233.

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October, 2009


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