Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 3:00am

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents is facing intense lobbying to limit stem cell research, now that the Obama administration has cleared the way for far more use of stem cells than was allowed by the Bush administration in federally backed studies. The Omaha World-Herald reported that Nebraska Right to Life, which endorsed five of the regents when they won their board seats, is urging them to limit research at the universities to studies that would have been permitted under the Bush policy. Scientists opposed that policy as far too restrictive.

Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 3:00am

A rejected applicant has filed a suit -- hoping for a class action -- against the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign over its now defunct "clout" admissions system of favoring candidates with political connections, the Chicago Tribune reported. The suit seeks more than $5 million in damages on behalf of all "non-clout" applicants who were rejected from 1999 to 2009. The plaintiff, who was wait-listed and then rejected, noted that the admissions materials he reviewed before applying did not indicate that any preferences would be based on political connections. University officials declined to comment, but have hired a law firm in anticipation of such suits.

Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 3:00am

The Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy at California State University at Sacramento released a report Wednesday, urging community college educators to make better use of data to improve the outcome of their students. The report recommends that educators look for “intermediate educational achievements that students reach along the path to degree completion,” and “academic patterns students follow including remediation, gateway courses, and credit accumulation, that help predict milestone achievement.” Among other recommendations to improve student outcomes, the report suggests that college should alter policies to “encourage more full-time enrollment” and to “encourage more students to take appropriate courses and complete courses in which they enroll.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 3:00am

Saint Leo University, in Florida, has been punished by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for major violations by its cross country and swimming programs. Monday, in a public report, the Division II Committee on Infractions noted that the current and former head coaches of the men’s cross country team -- whom the NCAA did not identify but are Melissa Miller and Cyle Sage, respectively -- knowingly allowed two athletes who were ineligible to participate in meets “ride with the team, receive travel expenses and participate under names of other teammates.” The two athletes were “partial qualifiers,” and therefore could practice with the team during the 2008-9 season but had to wait an additional year until improving their grades to participate in events. According to the report, Sage “provided false information when asked about the violations” and Miller “failed to report the known violations.” Sage also coached swimming at the institution. In another violation of rules, he provided “bicycles and bicycle parts, bike helmets, running shoes, sunglasses and other apparel” to athletes who were on both his swimming and cross-country teams for their use in triathlons. The NCAA has put Saint Leo on probation for two years and placed both Miller and Sage on two-year “show cause” penalties – meaning any institution that hires them during that period must report to the NCAA how it will monitor their behavior so that future violations will not occur.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 3:00am

In another sign of change in for-profit higher education, Corinthian Colleges, Inc. announced Tuesday that it was buying Heald College, a regionally accredited institution that is based in San Francisco and operates 11 campuses with about 12,300 students. Corinthian's announcement came a day after Princeton Review announced that it would buy Penn Foster Education Group, Inc.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 3:00am

Richard H. Herman announced his resignation Tuesday as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Herman was faulted by many on campus -- and by a special state review -- for enabling and participating in a since-disbanded system that gave preferential admissions to politically connected applicants. While Herman said that he sought to minimize such activity and to advance the university's political interests, a reconstituted board was conducting a review of whether he should stay on. By leaving now, Herman will forfeit a $300,000 bonus he would have received at the end of his contract. Herman will, in the short term, advise the university on math and science education issues and will later return to the faculty. An e-mail circulated on the campus said that Stanley O. Ikenberry, who was appointed this month to replace B. Joseph White as president of the University of Illinois system, and Interim Provost Robert Easter will lead the Urbana-Champaign campus temporarily (an interim chancellor will not be hired).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 3:00am

Canisius College on Tuesday named John J. Hurley as the institution's next president; he will become the second Hurley brother to lead a Roman Catholic college in Buffalo. Hurley is currently the college’s executive vice president and vice president for college relations and will be the first lay president at Canisius. Paul Hurley, one of his brothers, is president of nearby Trocaire College. While there are and have been in the past other sibling presidents, the Hurley family may have the potential for a wider reach than most. Another brother is Dan Hurley, assistant vice president for government and community relations at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 3:00am

First-year medical enrollments are up 2 percent over last year, the Association of American Medical Colleges announced Tuesday. Half of that increase comes from the start of operations of four new medical schools, and half from increased enrollments at older institutions. Twelve medical schools -- responding to projections of a doctor shortage -- increased their class size by 7 percent or more for those entering this fall. Data released by the AAMC also show that:

  • Male applicants (22,014) outnumbered female applicants (20,252) in 2009.
  • The percentage of male enrollees also topped female enrollees in the 2009 entering class, 52 to 48 percent.
  • The number of black applicants increased to 3,482 (up 4 percent over 2008), and this year's entering class had the largest number of black students (1,312, an increase of 7 percent).
  • Latino applicant numbers dropped to 3,061, a 1 percent decrease from 2008; the enrollees in this group also declined slightly to 1,412 from 1,416 last year.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 3:00am

Big-time sports programs appear to be moderating their spending slightly, although the vast majority of programs continue to operate in the red, according to a National Collegiate Athletic Association report released Tuesday. The report showed that median revenues at Division I colleges outpaced expenses in 2008, and that expenses were about even with revenues during the three-year period from 2006 to 2008. But only 25 Division I colleges -- all in the top Football Bowl Subdivision -- generated a profit in 2008, up from 18 in 2006. NCAA officials speculated (perhaps hopefully) that the data suggest that "the advice from former NCAA President Myles Brand’s Presidential Task Force three years ago to moderate spending is being heeded." But they acknowledged, too, that the data reflect the period before the economy turned down sharply in the last half of 2008.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 3:00am

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday proposed new regulations to govern the marketing of credit cards to college students. The rules, which were published in the Federal Register, would carry out changes to the Truth in Lending Act that Congress made as part of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, which was designed to give consumers more protections from the practices of credit card companies. Among the provisions aimed at helping young people is a requirement that credit card issuers and colleges and universities disclose agreements they make to market or distribute credit cards to students, including so-called affinity cards.

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