Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 29, 2018

Two shootings, a brawl, a stabbing and a drug raid have occurred on campus at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania in the past year. The incidents have all been a result of a rivalry between two groups selling marijuana in the area, named the Neighborhood Boys and the Philly Boys, Lehigh Valley Live reported.

In October of last year, members of the Neighborhood Boys shot at members of the Philly Boys during a daytime drinking event, and 10 days later the Neighborhood Boys shot again at the Philly Boys during a Halloween party. In January, the groups engaged in a fistfight, and an innocent bystander was stabbed later that night by a member of the Neighborhood Boys. Two students were arrested after a drug raid in their dorm room Friday, where police found marijuana, a digital scale, packing materials and cellphones. A third student was arrested after police found cocaine and traces of marijuana in his dorm room. All three were alleged members of the Philly Boys and have been charged with "possession with intent to deliver marijuana and related offenses."

October 29, 2018

Textbook publishers moving from print sales to rental programs and digital subscription services may find long-term success, but not without reduced earnings “for the next couple of years,” Moody’s Investors Service predicted in a new report.

The Oct. 25 report, available to Moody’s subscribers, said that shifting to rental models would give publishers such as Cengage, McGraw-Hill Education and Pearson “a chance to generate and sustain earnings while they undergo a larger-shift toward digital-only learning materials." But Moody's suggests earnings may be lower and "less predictable" in the next 18 to 24 months.

October 29, 2018

Suzy Mink, vice president for external relations at Hollins University, is also a skilled carver of pumpkins -- and she uses that talent on behalf of Hollins, carving pumpkins that show campus buildings and also key people. At right is one of her carvings for this year, of Clark Hooper Baruch, past chair of the board and current chair of the development committee. Below is a carving of the Hollins seal.

October 29, 2018

University and scholarly groups across Australia are outraged by the revelation that a former education minister secretly vetoed more than 4 million Australian dollars' worth of humanities research grants (about $2.84 million) that had been peer reviewed and recommended for funding by the Australian Research Council, The Australian reported.

Academics were dismayed that the former education minister, Simon Birmingham, overruled the judgments made by scholars during a competitive peer-review process without offering any public announcement or rationale.

The president of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, Joy ​Damousi, said in a statement that political interference of this kind undermines confidence and trust in Australia's internationally respected research-funding system.

Birmingham defended his veto on Twitter: "I'm pretty sure most Australian taxpayers preferred their funding to be used for research other than spending $223,000 on projects like 'Post orientalist arts of the Strait of Gibraltar,'" he wrote.

October 29, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Minita Sanghvi, assistant professor in the management and business department at Skidmore College, explores whether women in politics face a wide swath of biases, at this time when many women are entering the political fray. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 26, 2018

Margaret Spellings is stepping down as president of the University of North Carolina System, according to numerous press reports in the state. Spellings, who was U.S. education secretary under President George W. Bush, will be leaving after less than three years in office. Spellings took the job saying she wanted to focus on issues such as improving graduation rates and using assessment to improve instruction. But she has found herself involved in numerous debates over social and political issues. The News & Observer reported that she has been negotiating her departure and plans to return to her home state of Texas.

The UNC board announced a special meeting Friday morning to discuss a personnel matter.

October 26, 2018

Even though the football program at the University of Maryland, College Park, was plagued with abuse by the staff -- including one coach who would use foul language and throw around weights and a trash can full of vomit -- its culture was not “toxic,” according to 200-page report on the state’s flagship program leaked to The Baltimore Sun.

The Sun obtained the report on the football program written by an eight-person commission established by the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents. The program was first scrutinized after the June death of player Jordan McNair, 19, who was improperly treated for heatstroke.

The regents previously released a report on McNair’s death, which College Park president Wallace Loh already publicly took full “legal and moral” responsibility for.

This second report, which had not been made public as of Thursday evening, details abusive conduct by strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, who left the university in August after explosive media reports on the football team. Head coach DJ Durkin remains on leave, as do other staffers.

Players interviewed for the report said that Court would attempt to humiliate players by tossing food, weights and, on one occasion, the trash can. Though some players described Court as “motivational,” the commission determined he was inappropriate.

Court, who also frequently used profanity, and called people “fat,” was never given a performance review, according to the Sun. Nor was it clear whom he reported to -- Durkin said he was not charged with supervising him, though Durkin initially hired Court.

Commission members did not find the culture “toxic,” which means it would have to be “extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful,” according to the Sun.

The institution received a copy of the report and is reviewing it, the Sun reported.

Another article in the Sun reported that eight Maryland legislators have sent a letter to the Maryland board urging it to retain Loh in office.


October 26, 2018

The University of Central Florida is asking employees to report -- rather than comply with -- extortion attempts many are receiving through their email accounts. The email messages claim to have images of the employee watching pornography and say that the employee has a "wild imagination." The employees are told to pay $900 or risk being exposed. The university posted a redacted copy of the email to Twitter.

October 26, 2018

Ho Ka Terence Yung pleaded guilty in federal court to charges that he engaged in 18 months of cyberstalking and making false accusations against an alumnus of Georgetown University's law school who interviewed him as part of the admissions process and recommended he be rejected, which he was, Delaware Online reported. Yung admitted to falsely accusing the man who interviewed him of rape, lynching, sexual molestation and graphic violence.

October 26, 2018

A former Minnesota lawmaker who is running to be the state’s next attorney general will return $24,500 in campaign contributions he received from donors affiliated with a pair of troubled for-profit universities.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Republican Doug Wardlow received donations from 10 people affiliated with Globe University and Minnesota School of Business.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled last year that the schools issued thousands of loans illegally and charged unlawfully high interest rates. In 2016, a judge found that they had defrauded students. State Attorney General Lori Swanson had earlier sued the schools for consumer fraud and illegal loans.

State finance records show that each of the donors gave Wardlow either $2,000 or $2,500 last month, the Star Tribune reported. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, the Minnesota branch of the Democratic Party, said 10 people, including Globe owner Terry Myhre, donated to Wardlow; Jeanne Herrmann, Globe’s former COO, gave $2,500.

Herrmann told the newspaper that she and others have consistently supported Republican candidates for state and federal office, both through campaign contributions and fund-raisers.

The two for-profits, which share a common owner in the Myhre family, saw their federal aid payments blocked in 2016, amid a broader Obama administration crackdown on for-profits. As a result, they began winding down operations at their 19 locations in Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The business now operates in Wisconsin as Broadview University, with Herrmann as CEO.

A recent Star Tribune/Minnesota Public Radio poll found that Wardlow, a former one-term member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, holds a seven-percentage-point lead over his Democratic rival for attorney general, U.S. Representative Keith Ellison.


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