University News

This week in higher ed: Oct. 10, 2013

By
University News Editor
Thursday, October 10, 2013

Princeton to review grade deflation policy

Princeton president Christopher Eisgruber announced Monday that he will form a faculty committee to review the university’s grade deflation policy over the coming year, the Daily Princetonian reported Monday.

The current policy requires that academic departments not allow A’s to account for more than 35 percent of grades. When they adopted the policy in 2004, administrators hoped that peer institutions would join Princeton in seeking to curb grade inflation, but none of the university’s peers have adopted similar policies, the Daily Princetonian reported.

Eisgruber, who became president in July, told attendees at an alumni forum Monday in New York that he found grade deflation to be the biggest issue raised by Princeton community members on his introductory listening tour, the Daily Princetonian reported.

The review committee will consider students’ perspectives on the current policy, as some have raised concerns that grade deflation adversely affects Princeton undergraduates’ applications to graduate and professional schools, the Daily Princetonian reported.

 

Harvard Divestment movement continues amid president’s opposition

Though Harvard president Drew Faust announced Oct. 3 that the university does not intend to divest from fossil fuels, supporters of Harvard’s divestment movement pledged to continue their fight, the Harvard Crimson reported Tuesday.

Faust publicly released a letter arguing that terminating investments in fossil fuel companies would not produce major environmental benefits and could unnecessarily politicize Harvard’s endowment, the Crimson reported.

Members of Responsible Investment at Harvard — a group of alums, students and faculty members who support divestment from fossil fuels — posted a statement to the coalition’s website Monday criticizing Faust’s letter, the Crimson reported. The activists claimed Harvard has little hope of changing fossil fuel companies’ behavior while retaining investments, charging the university with a “poor history” of minimizing corporate risks, the Crimson reported.

Advocates’ pledge to continue their campaign coincided with the release of a University of Oxford study detailing how the global fossil fuel divestment movement has gained traction, the Guardian reported Monday.

 

Study finds narrowing of college grad earnings gap

A College Board study released Monday found a slight drop in the difference between the average earnings of U.S. college graduates and individuals with only high school diplomas, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported Monday.

Male college graduates’ financial edge over male high school graduates dipped from 74 percent in 2008 to 69 percent in 2011, while the gap for females narrowed from 79 percent to 70 percent over the same time period, the Chronicle reported.

The study’s release comes amid continuing debate over the financial benefits and drawbacks of a college degree, with policymakers and stakeholders arguing over whether mounting tuition costs and debt have turned higher education into a losing proposition for many Americans.

But college graduates’ advantage in average salary compared to Americans with only high school diplomas has grown over the past 20 years, the Chronicle reported. College graduates between 25 and 34 years old earned 56 percent more than high school graduates in 1991, the Chronicle reported.

 

Supreme Court declines to hear campus speech cases

The U.S. Supreme Court chose to let stand two appeals on court rulings dealing with First Amendment rights on college campuses, Inside Higher Ed reported Tuesday.

The Court ignored a challenge to a 2012 U.S. appellate court ruling — Crystal Dixon v. University of Toledo — that supported the university’s dismissal of a staffer who had allegedly made anti-gay comments, Inside Higher Ed reported.

The Court also let stand another 2012 U.S. appellate court ruling — OSU Student Alliance v. Ed Ray — that found Oregon State University journalists had presented enough evidence that OSU administrators violated a conservative student publication’s free speech rights by allowing the publication’s distribution bins to be seized, Inside Higher Ed reported.