Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, March 7, 2011 - 3:00am

St. Cloud State University has taken the unusual step of ending homecoming, The Star Tribune reported. Officials said that relatively few alumni participated in homecoming events, and that the university will try to cultivate alumni by encouraging them to "come back anytime," not just for an annual football game.

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 3:00am

"The University of Redwood," an unaccredited college that seems to be no more than a website with content taken from that of Reed College, was taken down Wednesday by Go Daddy, the website's Internet host. Officials at Reed had been trying to remove the website, which they believe was used in a scam to collect college application fees, since the fall. Reed was successful in November in removing the site for 10 days, but Go Daddy reinstated the website. After Inside Higher Ed reported about the struggle to disable the copycat website two weeks ago, Reed's lawyers sent additional requests to Go Daddy to remove the site, citing provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Ben Butler, Go Daddy's director of network abuse, issued this statement as to why the "University of Redwood" site is down again: "After Go Daddy re-enabled URedwood.com, we received a complaint about potential fraud on the website. After conducting an investigation and discussing the situation with the customer, the website has been taken offline."

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 3:00am

California legislators are moving toward a compromise on eligibility for Cal Grants, the state's student aid program, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Some lawmakers originally wanted to reduce the maximum grants for students at for-profit colleges to the levels for those attending public colleges and universities. That approach has been replaced with one in which all colleges will need to meet certain standards on default rates and other measures for students to be eligible.

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Senate leaders on Friday released their version of a bill to set federal spending for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year, which would reject virtually all of the cuts proposed in the legislation that passed the House of Representatives last month. The Senate measure -- which, if passed, would set up a sharp contrast and a potential conflict that could lead to a government shutdown -- would keep the maximum Pell Grant at its current $5,550, largely shield spending on other student aid and academic research programs, and sustain programs that the House would eliminate, such as the AmeriCorps national service program.

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Moody's Investors Service is today releasing a report predicting that the coming years will see more public colleges declare "financial exigency," a condition of such dire financial danger that faculty groups acknowledge it may justify steps as severe as layoffs of tenured faculty members. Moody's makes its prediction on the basis of continued state budget cuts -- without additional federal stimulus money to minimize the impact of cuts. Moody's rates colleges' credit-worthiness, and the ratings can have a significant impact on the cost of borrowing through bonds. The report notes the fears of some colleges that a declaration of financial exigency might result in a lower bond rating.

But Moody's says not to worry. A summary of the report from Moody's says that "financial exigency is likely to be a positive step in terms of credit standing because it empowers management to take aggressive cost-cutting steps to preserve cash flow to pay debt service. Such a declaration would have little or no negative impact on a university's bond rating if Moody's expects the actions to improve the institution's future financial position."

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Douglas Robinson of Mount Saint Mary College explains the environmental factors that trigger migration instincts in birds. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 3:00am

University presses need to consider new business models, and share information on successful new approaches, but no one model should be assumed to be correct for all, according to a report being released today by the Association of American University Presses. "[T]he simple product-sales models of the 20th century, devised when information was scarce and expensive, are clearly inappropriate for the 21st-century scholarly ecosystem. As the report details, new forms of openness, fees, subscriptions, products, and services are being combined to try to build sustainable business models to fund innovative digital scholarly publishing in diverse arenas," the report says.

The report stresses the role of university presses in vetting and improving scholarly writing, not just publishing it, and that emphasis turns up in several recommendations. "Open access is a principle to be embraced if publishing costs can be supported by the larger scholarly enterprise. University presses, and nonprofit publishers generally, should become fully engaged in these discussions," the report says. Another recommendation: "Proposals and plans for new business models should explicitly address the potential impact of the new model on other parts of the press’s programs, as well as explicitly address the requirements, both operational and financial, for making the transition to a new model."

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 3:00am

 

Sixty percent of the students polled at Columbia University support a return of the Reserve Officer Training Corps to their campus, according to a report submitted Friday to the University Senate by a special Task Force on Military Engagement. The survey was open chiefly to undergraduate students: in Columbia College, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of General Studies and Barnard College. Graduate students at the School of International and Public Affairs also voted. The survey was administered online over an eight-day stretch, and 2,252 students voted.

 

In addition, 79 percent of students approved of Columbia "allowing the participation of Columbia students in ROTC, whether on- or off-campus,” which already has been happening. Other statements garnering strong student support included the notion that a ROTC program with Columbia-educated officers would be a positive development (66 percent). Nearly as many, 58 percent, believed military engagement on campus would increase intellectual diversity at Columbia.

 

The task force, which was composed of five students and four faculty members, also summed up weeks of e-mailed comments it received and provided transcripts to three public meetings on the subject (one of which was the source of controversy). The results of the latest vote, in the wake of the repeal in December of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that barred gay servicemen and women from serving, differed from the last such survey taken at Columbia in 2008. A referendum that year revealed that 49 percent of students favored a return of ROTC to campus.

The fate of the program now rests with a vote of the 108-member University Senate sometime during the next two months.

Monday, March 7, 2011 - 3:00am

J. Michael Bailey on Saturday issued a new statement, apologizing for the after-class sex act demonstration held for his human sexuality course at Northwestern University, the Chicago Tribune reported. Bailey has up until now defended the act, in which a man used a sex toy to stimulate a naked woman to orgasm, and his new statement continues to say that no harm was caused. However, his new statement also says that he was sorry for "upsetting so many people" and that he would "allow nothing like it to happen again." Further, he said, "I regret the effect that this has had on Northwestern University's reputation, and I regret upsetting so many people in this particular manner. I apologize."

However, the statement also criticized the way the incident has been discussed. "During a time of financial crisis, war, and global warming, this story has been a top news story for more than two days," he said. "That this is so reveals a stark difference of opinion between people like me, who see absolutely no harm in what happened, and those who believe that it was profoundly wrong."

Friday, March 4, 2011 - 3:00am

The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, the student newspaper at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has apologized to readers for a column that said that women who dress "a certain way," such as wearing "a promiscuous outfit to a party," should not blame men who rape them. Such a woman, the column said, "is a victim of her own choices." The student newspaper has apologized for the "offensive and inaccurate" column and dismissed its author. The paper is keeping the controversial column available online, explaining that "we cannot hide that mistake and must own up to our bad decisions."

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