Some say,” The Library of Congress is simply not equipped to join the 21st century”. The Government Accountability Office estimates that the LOC spends roughly $120 million dollars on IT functions, but the library’s accounting records leave much to be desired, particularly when recording acquisitions of new IT assets. The copyright office still runs on a largely paper based system (some records kept are still kept in card catalogues) and is forced to share the library’s aging IT systems. Large digital projects have even failed to materialize, such as the promise of an archive of everything that has been tweeted since 2010. Digitization projects are so far behind that only a fraction of the Library’s 24 million titles have been made available online. It is the hope of many policy advocates and scholars that with Carla Hayden in the top job, the former crown jewel of American libraries can be pulled out of mothballs and dragged into the 21st century.
Ph.D. programs admissions decisions are made without admissions professionals. Small groups of faculty members meet, department by department, to decide whom to admit. And their decisions effectively determine the future makeup of the faculty in higher education.Politicians, judges, journalists, parents and prospective students subject the admissions policies of undergraduate colleges and professional schools to considerable scrutiny, with much public debate over appropriate criteria.
A book titled Inside Graduate Admissions: Merit, Diversity and Faculty Gatekeeping, is out this month from Harvard University Press. Julie R. Posselt (right), the author and an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Michigan, obtained permission from 6 highly ranked departments at three research universities to watch their reviews of candidates, and she interviewed faculty members at four others.
The faculty members she observed did not present her with a scripted and idealistic view of admissions. They were frank about things that they are unlikely to have shared in public. For instance, those who have Ph.D programs not at the very top of the rankings often talked about not wanting to offer a spot to someone they believed would go to a higher-ranked program. They didn’t want their department to be the graduate equivalent of what high school students applying to college term a safety school. Many of these departments turned down superior candidates, some of whom might have enrolled.Posselt tracks a strong focus on ratings, a priority on GRE scores that extends beyond what most department would admit (or that creators of the test would advise), and some instances of what could be seen as discrimination. White males “dominated” the admissions committees, and Posselt writes that chairs cite diversity as a value in appointing members in only two of the 10 departments she studied. There is a huge focus on GRE scores. Prestige of undergraduate program counted for a lot. But grade point average? Not so much.Grades are increasingly a lousy signal, especially at those elite places that just hand out the A’s. Admissions committee members generally assumed applicants were getting Ph.D.s for careers like theirs and are looking for signs of research potential.
The departments Posselt observed are “misusing the GRE,” and looking at scores “without context of the applicant. She urged departments to reflect on their practices, and to try to improve them and be more open about them.
Retrieved from an article by Scott Jaschik, Editor
Filmed on 360-degree cameras in West Africa, Ebola Outbreak: A Virtual Journey will bring you into the heart of the worst Ebola outbreak on record. You’ll even visit the very spot where the epidemic is believed to have begun.
This 360 documentary is a collaborative project with the content studio Secret Location and Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism.
Racial tensions at the University of Missouri and Yale University have escalated dramatically in the last week. At the University of Missouri, a student at the flagship campus at Columbia has been on a hunger strike to demand the resignation of President Tim Wolfe, who has not done enough, minority students charge, to deal with racist incidents on campus. The black football players announced on Saturday that they would boycott games in the future unless Wolfe resigns. He has vowed to do more to improve race relations and he has apologized for his role in one disputed.
At Yale, the last week there was widespread condemnation of an alleged racial incident at a fraternity, and debate over whether an associate master of a residential college showed insensitivity to minority students when she sent out an email encouraging less of a focus on offensive Halloween costumes.
At Missouri at Columbia black students reported being on the receiving end of racial slurs. Halloween parties set off racial tensions at many campuses, just about every year, with some students using blackface or racially oriented costumes in ways that offend. This year was no different; consider this controversy over white students at the University of Wisconsin at Stout dressing up in blackface as members of the Jamaican bobsled team. Yale has seen two Halloween party controversies this year. One has been over allegations that members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity barred minority women from attending a Halloween party, telling them that “white girls only” were wanted there. The Yale advice (available here) stressed the importance of not basing costumes on race or ethnicity, and the problems with using blackface or wearing clothing that reinforces stereotypes.