Today in academia: recruiting programmers, homework-free myth, a Columbia squabble, Biden's for-profit promoting brother, Harvard's action against instructor who wrote inflammatory op-ed.

  • It's about time that more students learned programming. Most office-bound people complete their day-to-day work all on computers, right? We heard a "yes." And, yet it still seems like a decent chunk of people are lacking in more advanced computer literacy in the work force. Never fear,The Wall Street Journal informs, there's more technical schools looking to capitalize on the "programming wave" and there's even, apparently, still demand from "fast-growing Silicon Valley companies [who] say they still can't find enough of them." So, the pendulum is starting to swing to more computer literate-certified people: "Overall, the number of students who received a bachelor's degree in computing rose nearly 11% in 2010." Will this translate into more people understanding how to do somewhat basic things, like coding? Well, along with the rise in college classes taken, the number of high schools "offering introductory computer science" slightly declined. [The Wall Street Journal]
  • Columbia engineering professors aren't pleased with their dean. Words like "revolt" and "rebellious staff" are used in The New York Times report on squabble pitting the relatively new dean, Feniosky Peña-Mora, against the university's chairmen. But, what's the scandal about? The Times says a "letter of no-confidence" was sent and a few paragraphs later relays "[p]erhaps the most damaging claim" was that he “has repeatedly disavowed written as well as oral agreements made with individual departments." Unnamed professors told the paper he just didn't listen to them. Near the end of the article we see one since-retired chairman speak his mind: "He’s a control freak, in my opinion." At this point, Columbia is sticking by the Dean.  [The New York Times]
  • Student newspapers: isn't the week before finals supposed to be homework-free? This has to be one of the age-old college complaints. So, as students nationwide embark on the prelude to finals week (and then that very long holiday vacation), the next crop of undergrads can reenact indignation at what's called "dead week." USA Today curated the editorials of student newspapers, finding that colleges do not cancel everything (like practices, homework etc.) just so students can have more study time. "And at the few colleges and universities in which dead week is outwardly honored, a closer look reveals a timeframe unofficially littered with project due dates, make-up assignments, and sudden essay add-ons to upcoming exams." We see another protest on the horizon.[USA Today College]
  • Joe Biden's youngest brother is a for-profit charter school advocate in Florida. And he still finds a way to be Biden-esque. The Washington Post's selling point for their story is how much the guy likes to "invoke" the family name to get the education deals done. And Frank Biden, noting that he doesn't "trade" on the family name to promote for-profit charters, admits he's fond of using the Biden-name: "I enjoy automatic acceptance or at least listening to what I have to say." [The Washington Post]
  • Harvard granted Subramanian Swamy freedom of speech, but not his summer classes. Last summer, Swamy became the center of a firestorm for writing an inflammatory op-ed about wiping out Islamic terrorism that the school's Crimson newspaper summarized as calling "for the removal of hundreds of mosques, the revocation of voting rights from non-Hindus, and a ban on conversion from Hinduism" in India. At the time,Harvard stood by the summer school instructor. Inside Higher Ed now reports that the school's Faculty of Arts and Sciences did respond: they "voted this week to eliminate two summer school courses in economics." [Inside Higher Ed]