Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

For-profit college fever is spreading in the U.S. Senate. Yet another committee (the third, by our count) plans to hold a hearing examining possible malfeasance by higher education companies, with Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) announcing a March 2 hearing of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security, which he chairs. Carper said the hearing would examine the flow of money from the Defense Department's Tuition Assistance Program to current service members enrolled at for-profit colleges, and allegations in recent news reports that, as he put it, "some bad actors have taken advantage of our military personnel and have failed to deliver the quality of education they promise to our men and women in uniform." Unlike most of the Senate hearings about for-profit colleges in the last 18 months, this one will not occur in the hotbed of career college scrutiny: Senator Tom Harkin's Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. But Harkin will still play a role: the Iowa Democrat is scheduled to be a star witness.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Columbia University's Randi Epstein analyzes the most sought-after traits for sperm donors. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

Despite taking legal action, Reed College has been unable to remove the website for the “University of Redwood,” an institution that is not known to officially exist and whose website features content that appears to be taken from Reed’s. (Reed jokingly calls the site “Reedwood”). Compare this page with this page, or this page with this page to see the similarities. Reed says it has filed complaints with the Attorneys General of Arizona and California, home to the website's internet provider and to its mail-forwarding company, respectively.

Reed was successful in removing the website for 10 days last year after its lawyers sent Go Daddy, the website’s domain host, a cease and desist letter; however, 10 days after the website’s removal, Go Daddy restored it. Go Daddy says it was acting in good faith and in accordance with the law. "In November, Go Daddy was notified of alleged copyright infringement on specific URLs within the site in question," said Ben Butler, director of network abuse for Go Daddy. "In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and our internal procedures, we disabled the website. After receiving proper notice that the allegedly infringing material was removed, Go Daddy re-enabled the site, and we have not received any further communication or infringement notification from the original complainant."

Kevin Myers, a Reed spokesman, said his understanding is that Reed's lawyers had approached Go Daddy a second time. He says Reed will contact Go Daddy again. "It’s good to know what the next step is," said Myers. "Being taken down should mean being taken down forever."

The Redwood website lists one contact, a box number at Shipito, a mail-forwarding company. Shipito suspended the Redwood account in the fall after receiving a complaint from Reed and has not forwarded any mail to the the entity since. Shipito says the account was opened by someone in China with a Western name. Reed, for its part, is still vigilant. “Who knows what the scam really is?” said Myers. “We’re continuing to try to track them down,”

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Association of University Professors announced Wednesday that it will likely investigate the recent decision by the Idaho Board of Education to suspend the Faculty Senate at Idaho State University. The suspension followed a vote of no confidence in the university's president, Arthur C. Vailas, who is backed by the board.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

A bill that would have barred public colleges in Utah from awarding tenure to professors beginning in July died in a legislative committee Wednesday, the Deseret News reported. College administrators in the state opposed the legislation, which its sponsor said was needed because tenure locked the state into long-term liabilities that it could not afford in economically difficult times.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, and South Carolina's public college presidents have agreed on the factors that should go into a new funding formula for higher education, The Greenville News reported. Among the factors: graduation rates, the percentage of in-state students, roles in economic development, job placement and the enrollment of "underrepresented" students. The governor and the presidents still haven't defined "underrepresented" or the relative weight the factors would receive in the formula.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 3:00am

An Australian group has created UniLeaks, a WikiLeaks-styled website where people may leak documents about higher education. An explanation on the website states that it will accept and distribute "restricted or censored material of political, ethical, diplomatic or historical significance which is in some way connected to higher education, an agency or government body working in partnership with an institution, e.g., a university." The site adds, "We absolutely do not accept rumor, opinion, other kinds of first-hand accounts or material that is publicly available elsewhere."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - 3:00am

Several American colleges and study abroad programs reported Tuesday that their students in New Zealand were accounted for and safe -- despite the devastating earthquake that hit the country. Among the institutions issuing statements about their students: The Institute for Study Abroad, at Butler University, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Washington State University, Wheaton College (in Massachusetts) and Winona State University.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Saint Michael's College's George Dameron describes how the Black Death reshaped European society during the 14th century. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - 3:00am

It appeared last year that the fight over the University of North Dakota's "Fighting Sioux" team name was over, with the university working out a deal to remove the name, which is seen as offensive by many Native Americans in ways that set off a conflict with the National Collegiate Athletic Association. But the fight was revived this week with a vote by the North Dakota House of Representatives to require the university to keep the name, and to request that the state sue the NCAA, the Associated Press reported. The bill now goes to the Senate.

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