Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 8, 2009

Laureate Education Inc. has released a statement outlining its possible vision for the College of Santa Fe, a financially struggling private college that the for-profit chain may end up operating under a bailout plan being pushed in New Mexico. The college is known for its arts programs and Laureate is known for its campuses in many countries around the world, primarily educating people from countries other than the United States. While Laureate's statement was vague -- officials noted that negotiations are still going on -- it suggested that Santa Fe would become a "global center of excellence in the teaching of the arts," in which Laureate's students worldwide would gain from the expertise at Santa Fe.

May 7, 2009

Our Lady of the Lake University on Wednesday commemorated the one-year anniversary of a four-alarm fire that devastated its historic Main Building. The rebuilding process is progressing, with fall 2010 the targeted date for completion. One year after the blaze, the university reports an 84 percent increase in donations and a 24 percent increase in donors. In total, $2.4 million has been raised for the rebuilding campaign. The university is seeking $5.7 million.

May 7, 2009

A federal judge has applied a new federal law on when people can file claims of discriminatory pay by employers to a tenure suit against Jackson State University, The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported. The new law is named for Lilly Ledbetter, who lost a suit on pay bias not on the merits, but based on when she brought the action. The new law extends the time in which plaintiffs may sue. Applying the new law to a tenure case (which affects pay) doesn't change the standards for demonstrating that discrimination took place, and those standards are typically tough for plaintiffs, given the traditional deference extended by courts to decisions made by colleges and universities. In the case against Jackson State, for example, the judge dismissed several claims, although applying the Ledbetter law kept the case alive. There has been no ruling on the merits of the case.

May 7, 2009

A federal grand jury has indicted two Detroit businessmen and six former University of Toledo athletes on charges of point-shaving and related offenses, The Toledo Blade reported. The incidents involved both football and basketball games, and the point-shaving is alleged to have been motivated by gambling. Lloyd Jacobs, president of the university, noted in a letter to students and faculty members that many reforms have been instituted to the athletics program. "Let me say from the beginning that we take this matter seriously, however we also consider it past history," he said. "We will continue to cooperate fully with all law enforcement agencies. Working together, it is my hope that this matter can be resolved quickly and justly for all parties involved.”

May 7, 2009

The Modern Language Association is sending a letter to all English and foreign language department chairs urging them to organize discussions and activism to draw attention to the treatment of adjuncts. The letter follows on both reports and policy positions issued by the MLA, and urges discussions with department members and administrators, publicizing "best practices" on the use of non-tenure-track faculty members (including minimum per course payments), urging the conversion of part-time positions to full-time and so forth. The letter also urges chairs to raise these issues when they sit on external review panels on other campuses. "Especially in these difficult economic times, we must vigorously make the case for the relevance of an excellent humanities education," the letter says. "Students need to be multiply literate, flexible, keen in their interpretive capacities, and prepared to change career direction several times over the course of their working lives. They deserve well-trained and adequately paid faculty members who, working under good conditions, are committed to teaching and learning, have time to prepare classes and provide adequate feedback to students, and have opportunities and support for professional development and advancement. Those students are our future. And those who stand before them in the classroom are our future as well."

May 7, 2009

A local district attorney raided offices at the City College of San Francisco Wednesday seeking evidence that college officials illegally spent public funds on donations to campaigns on behalf of bond measures that helped the college, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The search warrants show that the investigators are looking closely at the actions of Philip Day, who was chancellor of the college at the time of the alleged donations and who is now part of the Washington higher education lobbying world as president of National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. Day and the college have denied wrongdoing.

May 7, 2009

A Wesleyan University student was shot and killed Wednesday while working at a cafe. The university issued a series of security alerts and asked students to abandon plans to hold a vigil in the student's memory. "There is no reason to believe that the perpetrator of the shooting earlier today is on or near the campus, but we believe that the Wesleyan community could possibly be at risk. We realize that some students want to come together tonight to console each other, but such gatherings are not advisable at this time," said the statement. Claire Potter, a professor of history and American studies at Wesleyan, wrote at her blog, Tenured Radical, about the experience of being on the campus Wednesday as the events transpired.

May 6, 2009

The Wall Street Journal is publishing 10 essays by college presidents -- with the topics coming from their institutions' essay questions for applicants. So if you always wanted to know the person who has most influenced the lives of the presidents of Grinnell, Oberlin, or Vassar Colleges, or Wesleyan University; or how Barnard College's president thinks about the daily routine, or how Reed College's president experienced diversity, this is your chance. The presidents had to pledge to write the essays themselves.

May 6, 2009

A state judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the University of Colorado Board of Regents' ban on carrying concealed weapons on the system's campuses, The Colorado Springs Gazette reported. The suit was brought by three students who said that relevant state law protected their right to carry concealed weapons. But the judge ruled that their legal argument was based on a false assumption that the university system should be considered a locality. Rather, the judge ruled, the Board of Regents has state-granted authority as a state agency, and was within its rights to ban the carrying of concealed weapons. The Colorado ruling comes at a time of increased activism -- with significant legislative support in some states -- against campus gun bans.

May 6, 2009

In at least one way, this unusual admissions year is proving to be normal: For all the talk about how application surges would make it difficult to find spots, there are still plenty of colleges (at least 258 of them) that still have openings for the fall, and most of them still have financial aid, housing, and spaces for both freshmen and transfer students. The 258 figure comes from the annual survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, which surveys its members annually to find out which institutions still have spots after May 1. Most of the institutions responding that they have space available are private. More colleges had open space the last two years (292 in 2007 and 295 in 2008), but this year's total is exactly the same as that of 2005 and one higher than the total for 2006.

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