Illinois has indicted Michael Vernon Warren, the former director of publications and copy services at Chicago State University, charging him with a scheme in which the university overpaid for copy machines and paper purchased from a company he owned, The Chicago Tribune reported. State higher education regulations bar most purchases from businesses owned by university employees. Warren told the Tribune: "I know what I was asked to do, and I don't think I did anything that was improper."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Between 1995 and 2003, the median accumulated federal loans for doctorates increased from $14,927 to $44,743, according to a study in The Journal of Higher Education. The study examines the increase and various factors that contributed to it, and to some subsets of doctoral students seeing debt increase at faster levels than was the case for others.
Kaplan University and the California Community Colleges system have entered into an arrangement that will allow students at the two-year institutions to take individual online courses through Kaplan at a steep discount to help them finish their associate degrees. Under the deal, which is designed in part to help students at the two-year colleges deal with reduced course availability because of budget cuts, Kaplan will offer individual courses at a 42 percent discount from what they would normally cost as part of a degree program. Students will receive textbooks and other instructional materials at no charge.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a complaint with Fresno City College, charging that a health instructor is giving religious instruction with an anti-gay bias, in violation of the separation of church and state, the Associated Press reported. The instructor could not be reached for comment and the college says only that it is investigating. The ACLU's letter says that the instructor, Bradley Lopez, regularly uses the Bible as a text on health issues, called homosexuality an illness for which recommended treatments include counseling and hormones, cited the Bible to explain why abortion should be viewed as murder, and told students that abortion is the leading cause of death in the United States.
Many prospective students and their families lack the information they need to make informed choices about colleges, according to a report being issued today, "Planning for College: A Consumer Approach to the Higher Education Marketplace." The report examines the kinds of decisions families make and the information they need. The report notes that there are 118 different "529" plans, which promote saving for colleges by offering tax advantages to families, and that many do not know how to compare the plans; that information about the actual prices families pay (as opposed to sticker price) remains hard to figure out; and that there is relatively little information about such factors as price based on student-faculty ratios or graduation rates. The report was produced by MassINC, a think tank in Massachusetts.
The University of Georgia has fired an employee whose job was to monitor and report students and faculty members who violate university policy to illegally download copyrighted material. The Athens Banner-Herald reported that the official has been charged with extortion for telling a student he caught downloading that he would not report her in return for cash.
New research from the University of Bristol finds that, in Britain at least, people who own a cat are more likely than those who own dogs to have a university degree, the BBC reported. According to the study, 47.2 percent of households with a cat have at least one person with a university degree, while the figure is only 38.4 percent for those with a dog. One theory suggested for this pet gap is that the university graduates have jobs with longer working hours that may make it more difficult to care for a dog.
A special commission to study the future of the University of California is hearing a wide range of ideas, but not all observers believe the commission is the best approach to finding the right ideas, the Los Angeles Times reported. The commission has been hearing ideas such as offering three-year undergraduate degrees, increasing the use of online education, and replacing tuition with post-graduation fees based on income. Critics, however, say that California needs a broader look at all of higher education in the state, and how it is financed.
The College Art Association is the latest academic association to report significant declines in available faculty jobs. The association's career center (which doesn't have all art faculty jobs, but which is a good tool for measuring the job market) listed 1,263 positions in the 2009 fiscal year, a decline of 28 percent from the year before. Studio art positions declined by 31 percent and art history positions by 14 percent -- with the first six months of the 2010 fiscal year showing further shrinkage of the academic job market.
Gay students and supporters at John Carroll University staged a sit-in on the basketball court prior to the start of a game last week to protest the university's refusal to add sexual orientation to the official anti-bias policy at the institution. The protest, filmed and then placed on YouTube, ended when students were escorted -- without arrests -- from the court. University officials noted that draft "community standards" being prepared by the university explicitly protect gay and lesbian students and would bar discrimination against them. Officials said that the employment policy that does not include sexual orientation is based on state and federal statutes, which do not cover sexual orientation. "Rather than rely on the limitations provided under current federal and state law, the university strives to achieve a much higher standard based upon its Jesuit and Catholic mission and teachings," said a statement from the university.