It's not even technically summer yet, but Heard on the Hill is already back from its summer vacation. Over the past couple of weeks, this blog worked on its tan, finally made time to read some of those books sitting on the shelf and made some blog friends at Blog Summer Camp with whom it sincerely plans to keep in touch.
But enough about that. Here are a few KU tidbits from around the Internet to get you caught up:
• The New York Times spoke with Jim Butler, a senior scientist at KU's Kansas Geological Survey, about the decreasing water levels in the High Plains Aquifer.
• KU physicist Adrian Melott, who's frequently quoted on the subject of gamma-ray bursts, is at it again in this story from Forbes.
• Wayne Sailor, a KU professor of special education, shared his thoughts on a new accessible parking symbol being adopted by New York City with the Chronicle of Higher Education.
• A writer for The American Lawyer decided that Stephen Mazza, the dean of KU's School of Law, deserved a "Commendable Conduct Award" for the decision to reduce the school's class sizes after the legal job market took a serious tumble. (I'm not sure if this is a regular honor or one the columnist made up just for this occasion. Can I win one?)
The law school's switch to smaller class sizes actually came shortly after Mazza became dean in 2011. The school's next graduating class, in May 2014, will be the first that was affected by the decision to reduce class sizes by about 20 percent. That might mean good things for the school's employment statistics, which already took a big jump for its class of 2012.
• A lecture by KU's Shawn Alexander, an associate professor of African and African-American studies, will be broadcast on C-SPAN3 this coming weekend. It's part of the channel's "American History TV" weekend programming, for a program called "Lectures in History" that shows, well, lectures by professors about history. Alexander's lecture will be about the era between the end of slavery and the dawn of segregation in the United States. You can catch it at 7 and 11 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.
Submit your KU news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and you could qualify for the Heard on the Hill Terrific Tipster Award, which is given out whenever I feel like it based on whatever criteria I might choose.
More LJWorld KU News Coverage
KU links: Professor sticks up for Neanderthals in NYT; blogging Topeka high-schooler picks Yale over KU
Surely you don't have too much time to waste with the end of the KU semester approaching, so we'll get right on with your weekly-or-so roundup of KU news and mentions from around the Internet:
• We finally have a verdict from Topeka high-schooler Leobardo Espinoza Jr., who was offered a full-ride scholarship to KU while blogging about his college choice for The New York Times. And ... he's going to Yale. You can read more about it in his post. One interesting thing Espinoza did while trying to decide between his two final choices: He sent an email to one faculty member at each school and waited to see how quick and how in-depth their responses would be.
• David Frayer, a KU professor of anthropology, wrote this New York Times op-ed about Neanderthals, who he says have unfairly gotten a bad rap over the years.
• A KU official shared some comments with Inside Higher Ed for this story about the Voluntary System of Accountability, which is a cooperative effort among universities to share information about themselves, at collegeportraits.org. One category of information those universities can share is data on how much students are learning, but the story says the possible testing metrics offered for universities to use in that area have been criticized by people who say they don't accurately show what students are getting out of college. Paul Klute, a special assistant to the vice provost for academic affairs, says in the story that KU had declined so far to post student learning data on its College Portrait page, but some new rubrics now are available. (The story is pretty lengthy, technical and chock full o' acronyms.)
I poked around the KU College Portrait and found a few interesting things — for instance, a listing of the most common areas of study for KU bachelor's degree recipients as of 2011-12. (Business is tops, followed by journalism and engineering.)
• David Cateforis, a KU professor of art history, shared with the Kansas City Star his disappointment at the closing of a KC art gallery.
• The Huffington Post talked with Charles Greenwood, director of KU's Juniper Gardens Children's Project in Kansas City, Kan., about how the federal budget sequester is affecting the research work there. We talked with him about that same subject a couple months back.
• Mashable reported on some KU Medical Center research that found that the online virtual-reality community Second Life could be used as a tool to lose or maintain weight.
• In case you were curious, former KU provost Richard Lariviere did not exactly take an easy job when he became the president and CEO of Chicago's Field Museum last year. The Chicago Sun-Times reported on the financial troubles Lariviere inherited and how he's trying to overcome them.
• KU's Dining Services has a blog post outlining some of the changes in store for Mrs. E's, the main dining facility for the residence halls up on Daisy Hill, after renovations are completed this summer. Look for more on that in our KU Today edition that will come out in August.
Don't forget to send your KU news tips to email@example.com, you Neanderthal. (That's a compliment.)
More LJWorld KU News Coverage
Yesterday's post about Leobardo Espinoza Jr., the Topeka high school senior blogging about his college choice for the New York Times who's reportedly been offered a full-ride scholarship to KU, prompted a good deal of discussion.
That's understandable, as I think it's an interesting story. (A note: Do, of course, feel free to form and post your own opinion about the story, but I would urge you to read Espinoza's full blog post first for some perspective.)
One commenter asked a good question: What exactly is the David M. Wall Scholarship, which Espinoza wrote that he was offered? It is not part of KU's regular slate of renewable scholarship offerings for incoming students.
I checked in about that with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and I think the answer gives us a bit more understanding about the story.
Kristi Henderson, communications director for the college, filled me in: The David M. Wall Scholarship, established in October 2008, goes only to graduates of Topeka High School who plan to seek a degree in liberal arts and sciences. The recipients are chosen based on achievement and need. All that is according to the wishes of the donor who created the scholarship.
(The recipients are picked by a committee appointed by the dean of liberal arts and sciences, KU spokesman Jack Martin added in a comment on yesterday's post.)
The four-year renewable scholarship always covers tuition, fees and books, and it's awarded as often as the balance of the fund allows. That's typically every two years or so, Henderson said — two students have received it so far, starting in 2009-10.
So, now you know a bit more of the story. Please, discuss.
And please, send your KU news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We told you last month about Leobardo Espinoza Jr., a high-school senior in Topeka who's preparing to be a first-generation college student and blogging about his school choice for the New York Times. At that time, he'd just written that he had visited KU, but he had applied to a bunch of other schools and wondered if he might like to go somewhere farther away.
Well, turns out KU has introduced a $40,000 wrinkle to his story.
Today, Espinoza has another blog post telling the story of how two KU representatives came to his high school and offered him a four-year, full-ride scholarship as he stood at the front of a room full of classmates.
One official told him folks at KU had been reading his blog entries, looked him dead in the eye and said, "We want you at the University of Kansas," he writes. Then Espinoza looked inside the envelope handed to him to see an offer for a four-year scholarship that would pay for all of his tuition and fees, plus an allowance for books.
That would be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000 over the course of four years, depending on what happens with tuition rates this summer. (See KU's cost calculator here.)
But here's the thing: Espinoza's still not sure about going to KU. He sounds genuinely grateful about the offer, but he says he's always considered KU a "fallback school." According to a chart at the bottom of the entry, he's waiting to hear back about applications to Yale, Stanford, Brown, Washington-St. Louis and others.
All in all, I'd suggest giving the entry a read, as it lays his thought process bare in a way that's pretty compelling, even touching. He's pretty obviously conflicted about this. No matter how you feel about the fact he's not jumping on an offer of free tuition for four years at KU, you have to hand it to him for being so transparent about his decision and taking his future so seriously.
I'll be following along to see what happens.
I'm afraid I can't offer you $40,000 if you submit a KU news tip to email@example.com, but I will be very appreciative, I promise.
Leobardo Espinoza Jr. is a high-school senior in Topeka and is preparing to be a first-generation college student in his family, helped by a school program adopted a few years back especially for students in just such a situation. That alone makes his college choice pretty interesting, but there's also the fact that he's one of eight high schoolers blogging about their college choice process for the New York Times this school year.
Making that even more interesting for our purposes is that one of the schools he's considering is KU, so this should present an interesting opportunity to see why KU does or doesn't appear to be the right fit for at least one student (a pretty bright one, if his entries are any indication).
In an entry from last week, he mentions two schools he's visited: KU, which he says is 20 minutes form his home, and Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Me., a liberal-arts college with about 1,800 students some 1,500 miles away.
The two schools present marked contrasts on two issues about which he's conflicted: the size of the campus, and proximity to his home.
Improving recruitment is a big focus for KU right now, and this could be an interesting glimpse at how the university presents itself to a prospective student. Or, perhaps he'll just decide he doesn't want to live in Kansas anymore. We'll see.
Greetings, Jayhawks. After a health-related delay, we've now got the wheels on the ol' Heard on the Hill blog machine spinning, ready to offer some distraction during this last week of classes before finals.
First up: A New York Times "trend" story this past weekend focused on young folks who've decided they can have a successful career without a college degree, often inspired by such famous college-dropout success examples as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. And the face the Times put on the story was that of Benjamin Goering, who the story says dropped out of Kansas University in spring 2010 as a sophomore and headed to San Francisco.
He was frustrated with his college experience, the story says, and now he believes he's learning plenty at a software outfit called Lifefyre, where he landed a job alongside a number of other college dropouts.
The article cites a number of people who say the traditional idea that college is essential for career success is no longer true, including a co-founder of PayPal who offers $100,000 fellowships for young people to eschew college to try something else.
A couple of thoughts:
• It would be interesting to see an actual quantitative, scientific study of how well people without college degrees are able to do today compared with the past. The evidence cited in this story seems limited to the theoretical or a few famous anecdotes (Gates, Jobs, etc.).
• Whatever the actual evidence, leaders at KU and elsewhere will certainly need to think hard about whether and how to counter this perception.