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Quick Takes: St. Andrews vs. Its Accreditor, Harsh Evaluation Costs University a Gift, Audit Criticizes North Carolina A

August 27, 2007
  • The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools announced Friday that its appeals board had rejected the appeal of St. Andrews Presbyterian College, in North Carolina, to retain its recognition. Students who attend colleges that lack accreditation aren't eligible for federal student aid, so losing accreditation -- in this case for failing to provide evidence of financial stability -- can easily kill a college. St. Andrews responded on Friday by suing the accreditor in federal court. In announcing the suit, St. Andrews officials said that the association has refused the consider evidence of recent financial improvements at the college, including $4.1 million in pledges as well as a reduction in debt. The announcement from the Southern association specifically noted that its rules bar appeals boards from considering new substantive evidence. Appeals are only supposed to determine whether original decisions violated association rules or were arbitrary.
  • Jim Rogers, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, is calling off plans to donate $3 million to the University of Nevada at Reno after a regent -- in an evaluation of Rogers -- questioned his honesty, The Las Vegas Sun reported.
  • A state audit found that $400,000 in funds from vending machines at North Carolina A&T University, which was supposed to go to student aid and reducing campus debt, instead went to a spending account for then-chancellor James Renick, the Associated Press reported. Renick, currently a senior official at the American Council on Education, then spent the money on art work, travel by his wife, and a $150,000 annuity for an unidentified faculty member, the audit found. The AP was unable to reach Renick but he has previously defended management at the university. The audit also found $500,000 in questionable spending by a fellowship program, supported by federal funds, for engineering faculty members. According to the AP, the audit said that the program's manager spent 41 nights in hotels at the program's expense in 2005-6, at an average cost of $328 a night.
  • Southern Methodist University is starting new programs against substance abuse, in the wake of three undergraduate deaths from drug or alcohol overdoses between December and May. The Dallas Morning News reported that some faculty members believe the efforts are largely public relations and that the university, which has fought a party-school reputation, needs to take the issue more seriously. Others, however, think that SMU's difficulties are not that different than those faced by colleges nationwide.
  • A growing number of the Iraqi students who come to the United States on Fulbright Fellowships are seeking asylum and trying to avoid returning to Iraq, the Los Angeles Times reported. While Fulbright rules and related visas require the students to go home, many educators acknowledge that academics cannot have their safety assured in Iraq.
  • Gordon College, a Christian institution in Massachusetts, announced Friday that it has been pledged $60 million in unrestricted endowment funds by Dale E. and Sarah Ann Fowler, the grandparents of two students. The college's endowment is currently $33 million.
  • The University of Colorado at Boulder has identified 39 students who were taught a summer course by an instructor who has tested positive for tuberculosis. Health officials are in the process of notifying the students and asking them to be tested. The instructor, who has not been identified, is in voluntary quarantine.
  • The University of Washington has found a solution to removing weeds from steep areas without using pesticides: goats. The Seattle Times reported that the university is renting goats and finding that they allow the institution to achieve its environmental goals and its ambitions for campus aesthetics.
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