Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 - 3:00am

Corinthian Colleges, Inc., one of the country's largest providers of for-profit higher education, announced Monday that it had settled a lawsuit in which stockholders accused the company of having backdated the price of options. The company agreed to a set of changes in its governance and other practices and to pay $2.5 million in legal fees to the plaintiffs in the case, but did not acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 - 3:00am

The chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees resigned Monday, the Chicago Tribune reported. Niranjan Shah was the latest person to be done in by the admissions controversy that has embroiled the university; Shah was among the university officials who had been accused of pushing to admit applicants based more on their political connections than their academic credentials. A state panel investigating the admissions controversy called last week for all politically chosen trustees to resign, and Shah is the second to do so.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 - 3:00am

A national journalism organization has given its top First Amendment award to two Columbus Dispatch reporters for their investigative work on apparent misuse of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Foundation gave its $10,000 Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award to Jill Riepenhoff and Todd Jones for articles in which they requested documents about college athletics programs as a way to show how unevenly -- and in some cases inappropriately -- institutions applied the federal law designed to protect students' academic records. “[T]hey have taken an arcane, little-understood federal secrecy law and made its harm real and salient to the average citizen,” Frank D. LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, wrote in a nomination letter to Society of Professional Journalists.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 - 3:00am

The Education Department's inspector general said Monday that Sallie Mae had overbilled the U.S. Treasury by $22.3 million in payments made to its Nellie Mae subsidiary from 2003 to 2006. The company inappropriately sought reimbursement from the government for loans financed with tax-exempt bonds, even though the bonds had matured, the inspector general found; Sallie Mae disputed the finding. The lender is the latest in a string of loan providers that the inspector general has found to have abused the tax-exempt bond program, although the Bush administration's Education Department required only one of the lenders, Nelnet, to return the disputed funds.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 - 3:00am

A federal judge ordered the University of Louisville Monday to reinstate a nursing student who was expelled in February after she wrote on a blog about her dealings with patients, the Courier-Journal reported. The judge said that Nina Yoder's postings were "crass" but did not violate the institution's confidentiality rules or honor code, according to the newspaper.

Monday, August 3, 2009 - 3:00am

Authorities last year uncovered a major cheating scandal at the University of Texas at Brownsville--Texas Southmost College in which employees, some of them students, helped other students obtain test answers for themselves or give or sell them to others, The Brownsville Herald reported. The cheating involved gaining access to the Blackboard system used by faculty members for tests and grading, among other uses. The university was vague on how it punished students, saying that university procedures were followed (which would have involved an F for students in courses in which they were found to have cheated). Twenty people -- 6 employees and 14 students -- were involved. The university considered, but decided against, pressing criminal charges. Juliet V. Garcia, president of the university, released a statement to the Herald on why she favored internal handling of the matter. "It’s the job of institutions of higher education to preserve and honor academic integrity. Yes, academic dishonesty is a challenge that all educators must be prepared to handle," she said. "The policies and procedures in place at the university provide the means for the campus to investigate and make informed decisions on courses of action appropriate for each case."

Monday, August 3, 2009 - 3:00am

Arizona State University hopes to create a set of lower-priced, undergraduate colleges around the state aimed at commuters and offering the option of three-year degrees, The Arizona Republic reported. University officials detailed their plans -- which they will present to the Arizona Board of Regents Thursday, along with proposals from other universities in the state -- for from 5 to 15 campuses that would offer degrees in a small number of high-demand fields such as education, criminology, and communications. Tuition would be set at the amount of the maximum Pell Grant, Arizona State officials told the Republic, with startup costs for the first campus, envisioned for suburban Phoenix, estimated at $4.5 million to $6 million. Arizona is considering numerous options for cutting what students pay for higher education, including letting more students go to community colleges for three years and enrolling at costlier universities only for the fourth year.

Monday, August 3, 2009 - 3:00am

A federal jury on Friday ordered Joel Tenenbaum, a Boston University graduate student, to pay $675,000 to four music labels for downloading and sharing music online, The Boston Globe reported. Tenenbaum never denied sharing the music online and the judge ruled that his admission of doing so required a verdict in favor of the music companies, leaving the main question to be the size of damages (which could have been much greater). While record companies have threatened legal action many times over the downloading issue, many times focusing on colleges and their students, this is only the second case against an individual to have gone to trial.

Monday, August 3, 2009 - 3:00am

Last month, Marshall Drummond somewhat mysteriously left the chancellorship of the Los Angeles Community College District, announcing that he and the board had mutually agreed on the move. Drummond was in his second tenure in the job, having left in 2004 to lead the statewide community college system, but returning in 2007 to what he called the job he was really drawn to. It's still not clear why he left, but the Los Angeles Times reported on his settlement: $428,750 (over 19 months) and lifetime health insurance.

Monday, August 3, 2009 - 3:00am

The New Jersey Institute of Technology and its alumni association will be in court this month in a dispute over the use of the institution's name, the Associated Press reported. The two entities have been fighting since 2001, when the university tore down an alumni center to build a new student center. In 2008, NJIT told the association that it was being replaced with a new group, and that led the alumni to sue.

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