Our Weekly Reader for the Week of 2/24/2013

A busy week. The semester’s themes in the news are emerging: local union matters, the pension, and the rise of the MOOC. In the first two cases, the most important decisions are being made in negotiations behind closed doors and it’s hard to know what’s really going on. In addition, those who are following the news daily, rather than weekly, will have to change one of their most crucial links. — Bruce

1. Nothing from SEIU this week that I could find. The DI had an article last week on Flex-N-Gate:

2. Up-to-date information on pensions can always be found at http://suaa.org. The most recent postings were from 2/19 and include a .pdf result of the survey of SUAA members, and an updated legislative action report. The last mini-briefing was 2/15. Two pension reform plans of interest this week were

(a) Senate Bell 2404, endorsed by IFT:

(b) A proposed bill by Sen. Lang; see negative comments at 2/21 below.

(c) See also a summary coming from the Illinois Issues Blog at UIS (a new link for me, thank you google.)

3. From the MOOC file:
(a) http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/online-courses-could-widen-achievement-gaps-among-students/42521

Low-cost online courses could allow a more-diverse group of students to try college, but a new study suggests that such courses could also widen achievement gaps among students in different demographic groups.

More on the same study

(b) http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/02/21/coursera-and-edx-add-universities-and-hope-expand-global-reach

(c) On Texas A&m quarterback Johnny Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman:

Johnny Football still finds time to be a college student too, even though the Texas A&M star doesn’t have to be on campus very often for classes. His schedule this semester consists of four online classes in sports management, and he just got done with a series of tests and other work.”Had my first round of tests last week, so I’ve been kind of pushing that off as much as possible doing my online stuff, and all three tests and three papers hit me in a week,” Manziel said Monday night before accepting the Davey O’Brien Award that goes to the nation’s top quarterback. “It was good to feel like a normal student again, just a busy one.”

(d) Maybe not MOOCS, but then again … the job market is weakening for science PhDs as well.

4. A ranking of undergraduate universities based on student choices, though obviously this takes financial aid into account:

This is accessible at least from Math Dept. machines. Spoiler: UIUC is #47 (Michigan is #46), Caltech (#2) beats MIT (#4). Go, engineers

5. Evidence that the mechanism of selecting university presidents may have systemic flaws:

6. Don’t forget, press conference time!

Chancellor Wise, President Easter on WILL-AM's 'Focus'

WILL-AM's Jim Meadows talks with U. of I. Chancellor Phyllis Wise and President Robert Easter on
"Focus" at 10 a.m. Tuesday (Feb. 26). Do you have questions for them? Call in during the show,
email them to will-talk@illinois.edu, or post them on the show's Facebook page: Focus580.

7.  The e-summary has been reorganized! The new home page is http://www.uillinois.edu/our/summary/  with the description:

Each day, University Relations staff monitor Illinois, national, and higher-education media for news articles (clips) about the University of Illinois, the Board, and issues that impact the university. The articles are compiled into a PDF for reference. For an index of the summary’s articles, view the bookmarks in each pdf.

Only 2010 through the present is now directly available (previously, it was 2004).