Archive for November, 2007

Foreign language class enrollments are up, but a fewer number of students are taking them, according to a recent study by the Modern Language Association of America. In the past four years, enrollment in foreign language classes has increased approximately 13 per cent, with Spanish remaining the most popular. Enrollments are the highest they have been since 1960, according to the MLA. Yet Arabic has experienced the greatest surge, with enrollment figures up 127 per cent since 2002. Furthermore twice the number of institutions have begun offering the language during the same time period.At MU, Arabic is part of the department of Russian and German Studies, and does not have any full time faculty. With the Arabic department in its second year of existence, there are only two courses offered during the 2007-08 school year. Other notable findings of the study include enrollment in Chinese classes, which  is up 51 per cent, and American Sign Language, which is up almost 30 per cent, making it the fourth most studied language on college campuses ahead of Italian.


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Preserving Moments in Time

Cliches may be trite, but they are also often true; ‘Pictures are worth a thousand words’ is one that everyone is familiar with.

Now, an endowment established by past MU photojournalism sequence leader Angus McDougall and his wife Betty will allow MU to further preserve historic collections by dedicating a photojournalism resource at the centennial celebration in September 2008.

The Angus and Betty McDougall Center for Photojournalism Studies, will be located on the MU campus and will preserve photographs as well as enable people to access various photographic collections, oral histories, and other materials accumulated by photographers via the Internet.

The gift supports 100 by 100, a campaign that strives to increase the J-School’s endowment to $100 million by the year of the centennial.

Learn more about Angus McDougall’s work here.

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College applicant branding.

A recent New York Times article describes it as molding a child’s talents, extra-circulars, and SAT scores into a product as marketable as a cereal box design, all to set him or her apart from other college applicants. I can’t speak for the rest of my peers, but I can say that I certainly don’t remember feeling like a box of Wheaties in the fall of 2004 when I was chugging away at undergrad college applications.

But a lot has apparently changed in three years. Admissions councilors, branding experts, and other coaching firms are becoming increasingly more common as the number of college applicants, SAT scores, and community service-happy high schoolers increase. Expartus, the small New York City admissions consultant firm featured in the Times article, says that this type of self-marketing may simply be the next logical step in higher education admissions.

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The University of Missouri-Columbia will drop the hypen and Columbia from the university’s name in materials for fundraising, recruiting students and faculty, alumni relations, marketing, intercollegiate athletics and similar public relations functions. MU will still use the hyphen and Columbia when referring to budget documents, legal letters and other official correspondence. The Board of Curators voted 8-0 in favor of the change, with one member not present to vote.

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Some of us no longer actually sit in a classroom when we “take a class.” Instead, we can sit in front of a computer and learn through material available online.

And now, some universities have taken it one step further: Can we really take a class via our cell phone?

It’s true. Cyber University in Japan will offer a course on the pyramids whose content will be delivered through lectures and PowerPoint shows that are downloaded to students’ cell phones, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Interestingly, the only cell phones that will be compatible with the course are the cell phones manufactured by the corporation that owns a major share of the university.

Athabasca University in Canada began a similar experiment earlier this year, someone mentioned in a response to the Chronicle article. This distance-education school created text messaging-based lessons for people who wanted to learn English as a second language.

What do you think? Is this the way to bring education to people with busy lives, or do you think classes via cell phone would be useless?

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In the next chapter of the continuing MU presidential search, Gov. Matt Blunt had a meeting with Gary Forsee, the former chief executive officer of Sprint Nextel Corp., on Tuesday about Forsee’s potential selection as the next president of the University of Missouri system, according to the Associated Press.

This meeting occured just after the advisory committee held a closed session in Kansas City to interview a candidate for the position. The 19-member committee said they will announce their choice to the Board of Curators, who are also scheduled to meet in Kansas City next week for the final decision.

However, some faculty at MU have some doubts about hiring Forsee, also according to the Associated Press. Several expressed concerns that someone from such a corporate background wouldn’t be able to adequately handle leading an academic institution. In the words of the Associated Press, some wonder if a “business executive, as opposed to a career administrator in higher education, would have the necessary management skills to lead the four-campus system.”

However, Forsee does have a history with the school. A graduate of the MU Rolla campus, Forsee now serves on the Rolla board of trustees. Others said that it’s this MU background, plus Forsee’s business sense that would make him a good candidate.

Whether or not the final decision will be in his favor remains to be seen.

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Poet visits MU

Set mostly in the Middle East, political themes engulf Raza Ali Hasan’s poetry and serve as a key reason for an invitation by MU’s Center for Literary Arts to read selections from current and future works Thursday.

Born in Bangladesh and raised in Indonesia and Pakistan, Hasan focuses his book, Grieving Shias on the Middle East and other issues. His diverse body of work and insight are the reason why the CLA selected him to share his work on campus, said Chad Parmenter, assistant director of the CLA.

“A lot of his poems focus on issues that can be tied to the Middle East and other matters of cultural diversity,” Parmenter said.

The CLA’s invitation to Hasan was extended a year ago because he fit their mold of an accomplished young writer. While his poems have appeared in publications such as Tampa Review and Poetry International, Grieving Shias remains his first book and the poet is relatively unknown.

“The Center for Literary Arts tries to bring in established writers who are doing great work early in their careers,” Parmenter said. “He’s fresh.”

The reading will begin at 7:30 Thursday night at the A.P. Green Chapel at MU and is free and open to the public. A book signing will follow.

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