The author Wendell Berry is withdrawing his personal papers from the University of Kentucky to protest several university policies, including the naming of a basketball dormitory in honor of the coal industry and an emphasis on becoming a top research university in a way that Berry believes will detract from the institution's traditional land grant mission, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. In a letter obtained by the newspaper, Berry wrote: "The university's president and board have solemnized an alliance with the coal industry, in return for a large monetary 'gift,' granting to the benefactors, in effect, a co-sponsorship of the university's basketball team.... That — added to the 'Top 20' project and the president's exclusive 'focus' on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — puts an end to my willingness to be associated in any way officially with the university." A university spokesman said the institution was disappointed with the decision -- especially because it had purchased many of Berry's works to be in the same collection with the personal papers.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Apollo Group on Monday said that its University of Phoenix subsidiary had received a letter signifying the end of the U.S. Education Department's review of its compliance with federal financial aid laws and rules, and that university had "successfully completed the corrective actions and satisfied the obligations arising from the review." Apollo said that the university had paid the government $660,000 in the second quarter of 2010 to resolve some of the claims, and returned roughly another $1.1 million in federal financial aid funds as well.
Louisiana lawmakers have sent to Gov. Bobby Jindal legislation he had urged that would give public colleges and universities greater flexibility to raise tuitions in exchange for meeting stricter performance goals, The Advocate of Baton Rouge reported. The legislation's chief sponsor, Jim Tucker, the speaker of the House, had wanted to delay implementation of the new authority for colleges to raise tuition until 2012, so that they would have to meet at least one year's worth of performance goals before earning that power. But with the legislative session due to end Monday, Tucker and his House colleagues accepted Senate changes that would allow such increases -- which higher education leaders had argued were needed with the state facing deep budget cuts -- this year.
Some former students have filed a class action against the Illinois School of Health Careers, a for-profit provider, after they spent eight months completing a program (with federal loans financing their tuition) to become nursing assistants, only to find out that the program wasn't approved for them to receive state certification, the Chicago Tribune reported. Those suing cite materials they received that said that completing the program would allow them to sit for the state exam. The school admitted that some "unauthorized and wrong" information had been given out.
The Community College of Baltimore County has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as a retaliation lawsuit filed by an employee of the college, the EEOC announced Monday. The agency's announcement asserted that it had sued after the two-year institution declined to hire a clerk as an English as a second language instructor, citing her age (60). In addition to the financial payment, the settlement bars the college from "further engaging in any employment practice which discriminates on the basis of age, including failing to hire or promote applicants or employees based on age," the EEOC said. College officials did not respond to requests for comment.
A review at Northern Virginia Community College has identified some areas of concern in the response to a campus shooter -- who fired but didn't hit anyone -- last fall, The Washington Post reported. Among the findings: The campus police officers who responded didn't have floor plans or master keys to enter various rooms or buildings, and 36 of the 45 security cameras on the campus where the shooting took place were not working.
Loyola Law School in Los Angles took some grief in the legal blogosphere when blogs noted that it had raised the grade of every student -- retroactively -- by one level (with every B turning into a B+ and so forth), saying that it was just reacting to easier grading standards elsewhere. It turns out that at least 10 law schools have in the last two years made grading standards easier, The New York Times reported. The goal has been to make students more competitive in a tight job market.
The Wadena campus of Minnesota State Community and Technical College suffered substantial damage from a tornado last week. Officials have vowed to rebuild, but have announced that, for the summer, courses will be relocated.
Colorado College announced Monday that it is shifting its admissions requirements to offer more options for applicants. Instead of facing a choice of the SAT or ACT, applicants may submit any three exams from a choice of SAT and ACT exams (including SAT subject exams), Advanced Placement exams or others. At least one test must be quantitative and one must be verbal or writing. "The new testing policy will allow students greater flexibility in demonstrating their unique strengths and mastery of subjects, while allowing the Admission Committee to remain committed to focusing on both objective and subjective criteria," says a statement from the college.
Five Congressional Democrats on Monday asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office to begin a study of for-profit higher education that would look at institutional quality and business practices. The request comes just days after a House of Representatives hearing on accreditation that included criticism on the sector, and on the same day that witnesses were announced for Thursday's Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the for-profits. (The group scheduled to testify has a decided slant against the sector. The witnesses are Kathleen Tighe, the U.S. Department of Education's inspector general; Steven Eisman, an investor who has warned that the sector is "as socially destructive and morally bankrupt as the subprime mortgage industry"; Yasmine Issa, a former student at the for-profit Sanford Brown Institute; Margaret Reiter, a former California deputy attorney general and consumer advocate; and Sharon Thomas Parrott, chief compliance officer at DeVry, Inc.)
The request for a GAO review came from the chairs of the House and Senate education committees -- Rep. George Miller of California and Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa -- and three other influential members, Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Reps. Timothy Bishop of New York and Ruben Hinojosa of Texas. Citing "recent press reports [that] have raised questions about the quality of proprietary institutions" in a letter to the GAO, the members requested information on the sector's recent growth, as well as data on program quality, student outcomes and the amount of corporate revenues that comes from the Title IV federal financial aid program and other government sources. They also asked for a consideration of whether the Education Department's regulations on Title IV program integrity (in the process of being revised) do enough to safeguard against waste and fraud.
Harris N. Miller, president of the Career College Association, the sector's largest lobbying group, said he welcomes the review. "We have every expectation that the GAO, using facts and figures, will provide a full and fair review." He also asked that the Education Department hold off on issuing final regulations aimed at ensuring integrity in federal financial aid programs: "Secretary Duncan has said repeatedly he wants to get the regulatory changes right, and waiting for the GAO to conduct its study is one way to further that goal."