Back when I was in college, the main language that was being taught was switching from C++ to Java, and stuff like Python was really only being talked about by other students and such but neither them nor the professors gave much indication that it was something that would rival the legacy and more popular languages in a development sense. Has this changed since back then?...
I don't know about Python in academia, but it's pretty important in Linux, where it has come to essentially serve the same purpose as Visual Basic did for Windows. In fact, the Red Hat, Fedora. and CentOS operating systems all run a process named Anaconda when they first boot in order to auto-configure the hardware, and pretty much all of Anaconda is written in Python. The Trac issue management system that I use to monitor and control bug reports is written mostly in Python as well.
Python has become my weapon of choice when I need something coded in a hurry. It will never replace Java for me for major-league projects, for the simple reason that loosely-typed languages are to apt to explode randomly at runtime and I prefer my explosions at compile-time when possible. Plus, Java was designed from the ground up for security so it's easier to create and maintain secure apps in it. But I don't need compile-time type checking, scalability, or enterprise-grade security when I pull my contacts out of my LDAP server and build my Xmas card mailing labels. So that program - and quite a few others - are coded in Python.
An IDE is no substitute for an Intelligent Developer.
I'm seeing quite a few Python jobs coming up in the financial services sector, where I guess they are taking advantage of Python's excellent scientific/maths libraries (check out Allen's "Think Stats" book for more on this), its portability, and the relative ease of implementation compared to things like enterprise Java.