Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 11, 2019

Wright State University and its American Association of University Professors-affiliated faculty union reached an agreement late Sunday to end the union’s three-week strike. Details were not immediately available. The two groups met over the weekend with a federal mediator and agreed to certain compromises, according to a joint statement.

“Both parties made substantial concessions to help move the university forward together,” Cheryl B. Schrader, Wright State’s president, said. “I welcome back our returning faculty, and I know the rest of the university does, too. We are united in our collective calling to serve our students.”

Marty Kich, union president and professor of English, said, “I am sure all our members are glad to be going back to the classroom, where we hope things will return to normal for our students as soon as possible.”

Union members approved a strike after Wright State’s governing board imposed a contract outside of collective bargaining. Just last week Wright State posted job ads for long-term replacement instructors in scores of disciplines.

February 11, 2019

The University of California, Berkeley, has notified researchers that the institution will not start new research collaborations with Huawei, the Chinese company that is facing a series of criminal charges in the U.S. "Huawei was charged with theft of trade secrets, conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets, wire fraud, and obstruction of justice. These are serious allegations and warrant a serious response," said a letter to faculty members from Randy Howard Katz, vice chancellor for research. Multiyear research collaborations already started may continue.

February 11, 2019

Samford University officials told female students in a dance competition that they needed to bind their breasts to perform, AL.com reported. Many students complained about the requirement.

A spokeswoman for the university released a statement that said in part, “As is the case with all theatrical productions, emotions run high and organizers often require last minute changes to costumes and routines. Every year male and female groups receive feedback during dress rehearsal. The professional lighting and high definition video used in this year’s production created issues with costumes that were addressed in order to ensure that none of our students were embarrassed or singled out by what the lights could show. More than 50,000 people will see this year’s performance in person or via the live stream. Our top priority is always the safety and well-being of our students.”

February 11, 2019

Argosy University has failed to distribute more than $9 million in financial aid to its students, a court-appointed receiver told The Arizona Republic, and it's unclear where the money is.

The nonprofit Dream Center Education Holdings in 2017 acquired the Argosy chain from the for-profit Educational Management Corporation, as well as the company's Art Institutes and South University chains. Dream Center converted those institutions into nonprofits.

Since then Dream Center, a Los Angeles-based religious organization, has struggled to keep the chains viable. Last month a federal court appointed a receiver for the campuses. And Dream Center has moved to close or break up some of its institutions. For example, a private investment firm created a nonprofit a few hours before the end of last year to buy several Art Institutes and South campuses.

Argosy, which recently enrolled 17,600 students, has continued to struggle. An accreditor last month sanctioned the university, giving Argosy a year to "show cause" for why it should keep its accreditation. And the U.S. Department of Education placed restrictions on Argosy's ability to receive financial aid.

Yet those sanctions should not prevent Argosy from distributing aid to its students. Some students have been waiting more than a month for their aid payments, the Republic reported, and have been unable to buy groceries, make payments on their mortgages or buy books required for classes.

February 11, 2019

Michael D. Shonrock was fired Friday as president of Lindenwood University, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Shonrock was suspended Tuesday, and his lawyer said that no reason has been given for his dismissal. The chairman of the Board of Trustees said the panel's vice chair, Art Johnson, a longtime executive at the American Automobile Association, has been named interim president.

February 11, 2019

Colleges and universities that have effective collaboration among their academic, student life, financial aid and career services supports for students have better retention and completion rates than do peer institutions that don't mesh those functions, according to a new survey.

The survey was produced as part of Driving Toward a Degree, a student support initiative involving Tyton Partners, an investment and consulting firm, and the Babson Survey Research Group in conjunction with Achieving the Dream, NACADA: the Global Academy for Academic Advising and NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

The groups sought opinions from 3,300 administrators and instructors at 1,100 colleges, including provosts, deans and officials in student affairs, financial aid and career services. Among the findings:

  • Academic advisers who describe their colleges and universities as having integrated their supports for students were almost twice as likely as those at institutions with self-described "siloed" services for students (28 percent vs. 15 percent) to report that they have regular interaction with career services staffs.
  • Institutions where officials believe they have a high level of collaboration and communication among different layers of student services are likelier than colleges without such cooperation to have retention rates over 85 percent and completion rates over 60 percent.

The survey also provides a portrait of the landscape of corporate providers of student services, estimating the market to be $560 million, with academic advising to make up $360 million of that total.

February 11, 2019

A group of lawmakers in Maryland is attempting to change the state university system’s governor-appointed Board of Regents in the wake of the governing body’s much-criticized response to the death of University of Maryland College Park football player Jordan McNair.

The state lawmakers have introduced legislation adding to the board the state’s secretary of commerce, a second student regent, a member chosen by the speaker of the House and a member chosen by the president of the Senate. It would also require the governor to appoint at least one board member with experience in higher education administration, one with experience in finance and one experienced in diversity and workplace inclusion.

Maryland’s governor would have to submit nominees to the State Senate for confirmation, and the Senate would have to confirm the board’s nomination for chair.

In addition, the bill would require the board to live-stream its public meetings online, archive public meeting streams, publish motions and vote totals from public meetings and executive sessions, and to accept public testimony.

Although legislative moves to change university governing boards are often criticized as partisan or political, the bill’s backers wrote in a Baltimore Sun op-ed that they are interested in good governance.

“This legislation is not a political power grab, partisan or otherwise,” they wrote. “It’s about good governance. Both Democratic and Republican governors have appointed stellar regents, but certain decisions have given us and the general public room to be concerned. A little transparency and accountability will go a long way in re-establishing trust and ensuring Maryland continues to have the best higher education system in the nation.”

February 11, 2019

Today on the Academic Minute, part of Arcadia University Week, Jill Pederson, associate professor of art history, examines whether some of da Vinci’s work was a collaborative effort. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

February 8, 2019

State funding for public colleges and universities rose in 43 states this year, compared with increases in 32 states last year.

Moody’s Investors Service reports (paywalled) that the state funding increases are credit positive for the higher education sector, despite many colleges battling slow tuition revenue growth and rising expenses, the report said.

February 8, 2019

Today on the Academic Minute, Piero Gardinali, professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at Florida International University, describes how the Deepwater Horizon spill was simulated and what was learned. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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