Higher Education Quick Takes
Students from Harvard University's Graduate School of Education have started a sit-in outside the dean's office to protest the recent tenure denial of Mark Warren, The Boston Globe reported. Warren, whose research focuses on community organizing in the schools, is seen by the students as the latest of a series of tenure denials or departures of professors who are focused on social justice issues.
The National Association for College Admission Counseling has released "Best for Whom?" a report summarizing previously released surveys by the association on the skeptical attitudes of high school counselors and college admissions officers about the rankings of U.S. News & World Report. The report notes that both counselors and admissions officers see the rankings as highly questionable in value to prospective students, but influential nonetheless not only with applicants but with those making decisions at colleges.
Pima Community College officials took heat in some quarters (and in some news reports) in the wake of January's shooting of an Arizona Congresswoman by a former student, with some critics arguing that the two-year institution had done too little to respond to the threat he posed. But e-mail messages released Thursday in response to an open-records request by The Arizona Republic show -- as college officials argued -- that they grew increasingly concerned about Jared Lee Loughner's behavior and acted to expel him as complaints from students, faculty members and administrators escalated.
The for-profit school created by Donald Trump is under investigation by the New York State attorney general for possible illegal business practices, The New York Times reported. Students pay up to $35,000 for a course, and the attorney general's office has received "credible" complaints about the operation. The program was previously called Trump University, but the name was changed (to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative) following complaints that the institution was not a real university.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Thursday that it had imposed a one-year probation on East Carolina University but instituted no limitations on recruiting, scholarships or postseason competition for a major case of academic fraud in its athletics program. Unethical conduct in the form of academic fraud is among the most serious of NCAA violations, and instances of it have been on the rise. In East Carolina's case, a female tennis player who worked as a tutor for the athletics department wrote a total of 15 papers for four baseball players in the fall of 2009, and then two of the athletes lied to investigators about the violations.
Yet the NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions, saying that individual students were entirely responsible for the violations and that East Carolina had "acted appropriately at all phases before and during the investigation," required only that the institution vacate victories in which the guilty athletes had participated. Not only did the university investigate the allegations aggressively, but it altered several policies and practices to avoid future breaches, the NCAA said. Two of the baseball players were declared ineligible through the 2010-11 season; the other two, and the women’s tennis player, were ruled permanently ineligible and removed from their respective teams. The case was adjudicated through the NCAA's summary disposition process, which is used when there is no dispute between the association and an institution over a case.
Many observers assumed that the shift away from federally guaranteed loans would deal a severe blow to Sallie Mae, but the company is bouncing back, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. By servicing older loans and moving into private lending, the company is having a strong 2011, with shares up 29 percent so far this year.
The business school at Columbia University -- which fares poorly in many analyses of the economic downturn -- has toughened its conflict-of-interest rules. Faculty members voted to require that they all maintain on their b-school webpages a listing of their outside activities so that any links they have to industries they analyze would be visible. Further, in cases where they or family members own at least 5 percent of a company related to their work, they must report that as well.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association "has no mandate to create" a football playoff unless its members push for one, the group's president said in response to a Justice Department letter this month that discussed the wisdom of the Bowl Championship Series and the prospects of replacing it with a national playoff. Mark Emmert also noted that, other than licensing postseason bowl games, the NCAA “has no role to play in the BCS" and that questions about whether it “serves ‘the interest of fans, colleges, universities, and players’ [are] better directed to the BCS itself.” The Justice Department letter to which Emmert responded is the first confirmation the department has given that it is examining college football's system for crowning a national champion and considering action against it. Critics have long called for the government to investigate the BCS for possible antitrust violations.
The Indiana University System announced Wednesday that it would shut down its School of Continuing Studies to save as much as $4 million a year. The closure of the school, which provides online and evening classes to about 4,000 undergraduates and some non-degree programs as well, comes nearly a year after Indiana's governor, Mitch Daniels, essentially created a new online institution in the state by striking a deal to let the nonprofit Western Governors University provide courses to Indiana residents. At that time, the head of Indiana's continuing studies school said that he did not see the new arrangement creating too much overlap with the school's own market. "There's plenty of work to be done" in using online education to reach underserved Indianans, Dean Daniel J. Callison said.