Submitted by Paul Fain on January 5, 2017 - 3:00am
A Minnesota judge this week ruled that Globe University and the Minnesota School of Business, two embattled for-profits, must pay restitution to more than 1,200 defrauded students, reported the Star-Tribune.
The state's attorney general, Lori Swanson, had sued the for-profits, alleging they had misrepresented job opportunities for graduates of their criminal justice programs. A court agreed last September, finding the two institutions had engaged in consumer fraud and deceptive trade practices.
Following that ruling, the U.S. Department of Education last month cut off the flow of federal financial aid to the two for-profits.
The institutions said in a statement that they are considering an appeal. In the meantime, they will continue to work with regulators while winding down academic programs.
"The court’s final order was limited to one program -- criminal justice -- which has not been offered for more than two years and which represented no more than 4 percent of the schools’ overall student population at any given time," the institutions said. "We are disappointed that the court’s findings, based on the testimony of only 16 students, have resulted in such significant harm to the education and degrees of tens of thousands of students and alumni."
Note: This article has been updated from a previous version to add a statement from the two institutions.
Republican legislators in Wisconsin last month threatened to cut funds from the University of Wisconsin at Madison for offering a course on race relations called The Problem of Whiteness. University officials have defended the course and denied allegations that the course denigrates white people.
Now the same legislators are criticizing a voluntary six-week program at Madison, in which men talk about masculinity, and saying that should be cut as well. “Our friends at UW Madison not happy enough with labeling 'whiteness' as a societal problem, now are attacking another societal ill … men and their masculinity,” said an email from State Senator Steve Nass to The Capital Times.
A press release from the university said that the program (similar to those at many other colleges) "operates on a transformative model of social justice allyship. First, facilitators ask students to consider how the students’ opinions about masculinity affect their own perceptions every day. Second, they consider how those opinions affect the people around them. Finally, the program examines how those perceptions affect the whole campus community."
The Ohio Ethics Committee has reprimanded Michael Bridges, president of the Wright State University Board of Trustees, for helping his son get a job at the university's research arm, The Dayton Daily News reported. While the ethics committee did not find evidence that Bridges forced the hiring, it said that he broke state law when he emailed his son's résumé to a potential supervisor and helped schedule interviews. The director of the research institute later recommended creating a new position for the son. The ethics panel reached an agreement with Bridges not to seek prosecution in return for his accepting “a public reprimand from the commission” and his pledge “to not participate in any employment matters related to his son or any other family member employed by WSU.”
"Have never been more proud of our kids," Claeys wrote on Twitter after the boycott was announced. "I respect their rights [and] support their effort to make a better world!" Even after the boycott ended, Claeys continued to say he supported his team, saying that the tweet "was all about [him] supporting their actions to try to improve the due process." Following the coach's comments, local sports columnists questioned whether Claeys should have his contract extended, faculty members publicly condemned his comments by calling the tweet “a terrible thing” and a petition called on the university to fire the coach.
The boycott initially attracted sympathy from many alumni and those concerned about issues of due process, but support for the university's stance grew as details emerged about what happened to the female student, in particular after a redacted version of the university's equal opportunity office's report on its investigation was published online. Contrary to the team's comments, the 80-page report shows that the football players were interviewed, their assertions were considered and they were not all judged equally responsible for what happened. The report also details why the university found that four of the players engaged in sexual assault and others engaged in forms of harassment, such as videotaping the victim without her consent. None of the players face charges for the alleged assault.
"I made a difficult decision today on behalf of the University of Minnesota," Mark Coyle, Minnesota's athletic director, said in a statement Tuesday. "With the support of Board of Regents leadership and President Eric Kaler, I have decided to take the Gophers football team in a different direction with new coaching leadership. I determined that the football program must move in a new direction to address challenges in recruiting, ticket sales and the culture of the program. We need strong leadership to take Gopher football to the next level and address these challenges."
The coach's earlier comments in support of the team's boycott, Coyle said, were "not helpful."
Messy breakups between colleges and universities and their presidents made headlines again this summer. Trustees have accused presidents of poor judgment, unapproved and unauthorized spending, lack of professionalism, and inadequate goals and objectives. The separations played out in public, and many of them required a legal resolution.
But litigation costs are only a fraction of the harm done to both the college and the president in these kinds of terminations.
The reputations of both the college and the president are damaged by the controversies. Stories that portray a board as not supporting its president will probably cause future candidates for leadership positions at the college to think twice about applying. Community supporters and donors may withdraw support from the institution in response to the negative press that often accompanies the termination of employment of top leadership. For their part, presidents who are fired often have trouble overcoming the damage to their careers and successfully securing a leadership position at a different college or university.
Sometimes, the breakups occur early in the president’s tenure. In 2016, the president of Lake Michigan College was ousted after only three months on the job. Others may occur later in the president’s tenure, perhaps after contentious campus issues, difficult financial decisions or the election or appointment of new trustees.
What can trustees, presidents and candidates for presidencies do to reduce the chances of such a forced separation?
The first consideration for both the board and candidate is one of fit. From the board’s perspective, it’s important to ask if the candidate is the best choice to meet the needs of the college. When a presidential vacancy occurs, the board should take the time to assess current institutional challenges, problems and opportunities. Before beginning a search, it should review the college’s mission, goals and strategic plan, and then it should agree on the characteristics and capabilities needed in a new leader. The outcome of that review should shape the position announcement, guide the search committee and determine advertising venues, screening criteria, interview questions and questions for references.
Before making a hiring decision, trustees should, where possible and with the candidate’s authorization, consider sending representatives to the institutions or organizations where the finalists are employed to talk directly with people who work with the candidates. Responses to trustee questions can be most helpful in determining fit.
Trustees bring different perspectives to their positions, so they may not all agree on a final choice for president. But the board should try hard to reach a consensus. Any implication of lack of confidence in the choice of a president can present problems for both that person and the college -- and increase the chances of a breakup.
From the President’s Perspective
When applying for a presidential position, the candidates must be as concerned about fit as the search committee and the board. They need to understand the needs and culture of the college, its current challenges and opportunities, and the culture of the community. Too many new presidents have been surprised by financial problems, pending litigation, personnel problems, labor strife or political issues. If problems must be addressed, does the candidate feel they have the experience and ability to deal with them -- and will the board support the president in tackling those difficult issues?
Candidates should view the interview as a two-way assessment and can often get a feel for the issues confronting the institution from the questions they’re asked. They should also talk to people who know the college and its issues, as well as review documents such as accreditation reports, financial audits, board meeting minutes and academic senate meeting minutes. A search for local newspaper or online articles can also be informative.
Candidates also must be concerned about the culture of the community. Some communities are more racially diverse than others. Some have deep religious traditions, while others are more secular. Some are urban, some are rural and some are suburban. Economies and culture can be based on agriculture, manufacturing, energy, chemical processing, tourism, technology, health care, higher education, policy development, mining and many other industries. Some communities are economically depressed or losing population, perhaps with community and state leaders focused on transforming the economy.
In addition, candidates should assess the strength of the college leadership team. Will changes need to be made? If so, will the board support the president in making them? And how does the candidate feel about the board itself? Is this group one that the candidate feels comfortable with? Did the board express a consensus opinion in the selection? If the board was divided, the career risk for the president will be elevated.
Easing the Transition
Some activities related to welcoming a new president should take place before that person arrives. For example, if the board sees a need to remodel the president’s office or to upgrade his or her residence (if one is provided), it is best to allocate the necessary resources before that individual is on the job. If the board wishes to schedule an inauguration to introduce the new president to the community, the board should make the decision in advance of the president’s arrival. New presidents who get involved with the details of remodeling their own homes or offices or of planning inaugurations run the risk of alienating the campus community -- especially during times of tight budgets.
The new president and board should schedule a retreat or workshop as soon as possible after the president arrives to develop a common set of goals for the president. If the board gives the president no direction -- or worse yet -- if individual trustees have different expectations for the president, there will likely be trouble ahead. The board at Lake Michigan College cited inadequate goals and objectives as one of the reasons for precipitously firing its president.
The board should also periodically schedule facilitated retreats or workshops. At those meetings, away from the demands of regular board meetings, trustees and the president can set goals for themselves, evaluate their progress in meeting those goals, and assess whether the college is advancing toward its vision of the future.
Evaluation of the president is one of the board’s most important responsibilities, and an annual formal evaluation is the key way to provide a unified and clear sense of direction. Boards need to understand that presidents must deal with conflicting demands, insufficient resources, hectic schedules and long hours. Progress toward some college goals may take longer than expected, especially when other priorities emerge. And while a president should always strive to maintain a positive institutional climate, the board’s evaluation must be more than a reflection of his or her popularity.
Colleges that have been identified as the best are those with long histories of strong and stable leadership at the board and president levels. Positive relationships between boards and presidents do not develop accidentally. They must be continually nurtured and developed. By understanding the expectations that boards hold for them, presidents can provide the leadership colleges need. And messy breakups can be avoided.
George R. Boggs is superintendent/president emeritus of Palomar College and president and CEO emeritus of the American Association of Community Colleges. He is an adjunct professor in the community college leadership doctoral programs at San Diego State University and National American University.
Antioch College has announced that it is dealing with budget shortfalls by eliminating five positions and cutting the salaries of 23 senior administrators, The Yellow Springs News reported. The president and four other senior administrators are taking pay cuts of 20 percent, while other administrators will see their salaries cut by 5 percent. Fund-raising at the college, which was revived in 2011 after being shut down, has not met targets. Nor has enrollment. This academic year, only 45 new students enrolled, while the target was more than 80. Total enrollment stands at 220.
American University announced Monday that it will remove a large statue of Leonard Peltier from outside its art museum. Peltier is a Native American activist who was convicted of murder in the shooting deaths of two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in a 1975 incident at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Many Native American activists have long maintained -- backed by groups such as Amnesty International -- that Peltier did not receive a fair trial and was convicted unfairly. Some of those activists have been promoting the statue to draw attention to their campaign to have President Obama grant clemency to Peltier, but law enforcement groups have been criticizing American University for letting the statue be so visible on campus.
In a statement, the university said in part, "The decision to host the Peltier statue required a more thorough assessment of the implications of placing the piece in a prominent, public space outside the museum. With the benefit of a fuller review, we have made a decision to remove the piece from this location. The subject matter and placement of the piece improperly suggested that American University has assumed an advocacy position of clemency for Mr. Peltier, when no such institutional position has been taken. Further, the nature and location of the piece called into question our ability to honor our responsibilities to ensure the security of the art and the safety of our community."
The artist who created the sculpture goes by the name Rigo 23. He condemned American University's decision in an interview with WUSA 9 News. "My reaction is one of sadness and disbelief," Rigo 23 said. "What the director of the art center told me is the Fox News item unleashed the crazies, and the crazies are threatening the university."
Lake Superior State University on New Year's Eve released its 42nd annual "List of Words Banished From the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness." The university collects nominations all year on this Facebook page and releases the word to honor the new year. The word cloud is from the university, showing some of the previously banned words. Previous lists and more information about the project may be found here.
The 2017 list and the reasons given by the university:
You, Sir: Hails from a more civilized era when duels were the likely outcome of disagreements. Today, we suffer online trolls and internet shaming.
Focus: Good word, but overused when concentrate or look at would work fine. See 1983's banishment of We Must Focus Our Attention.
Bête Noire: After consulting a listing of synonyms, we gather this to be a bugbear, pet peeve, bug-boo, pain or pest to our nominators.
Town Hall Meeting: Candidates seldom debate in town halls anymore. Needs to be shown the door along with "soccer mom(s)" and "Joe Six-pack" (banned in 1997).
Post-Truth: To paraphrase the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, we are entitled to our own opinions but not to our own facts.
Guesstimate: When guess and estimate are never enough.
831: A texting encryption of I love you: eight letters, three words, one meaning. Never encrypt or abbreviate one's love.
Historic: Thrown around far too much. What's considered as such is best left to historians rather than the contemporary media.
Manicured: As in a manicured lawn. Golf greens are the closest grass comes to being manicured.
Echo Chamber: Lather, rinse and repeat. After a while, everything sounds the same.
On Fleek: Anything that is on point, perfectly executed or looking good. Needs to return to its genesis: perfectly groomed eyebrows.
Bigly: Did the candidate say "big league" or utter this 19th-century word that means "in a swelling blustering manner"? Who cares? Kick it out of the echo chamber!
Ghost: To abruptly end communication, especially on social media. Is it rejection angst, or is this word really as overused as word-banishment nominators contend? Either way, our committee feels the pain.
Dadbod: The flabby opposite of a chiseled-body male ideal. Should not empower dads to pursue a sedentary lifestyle.
Listicle: Numbered or bulleted list created primarily to generate views on the web, LSSU's word-banishment list excluded.
"Get your dandruff up …": The committee is not sure why this malapropism got nominators' dander up in 2016.
Selfie Drone: In what could be an ominous development, the selfie -- an irritating habit of constantly photographing and posting oneself to social media -- is being handed off to a flying camera. How can this end badly?
Frankenfruit: Another food group co-opted by "frankenfood." Not to be confused with other forms of genetically modified language.
Disruption: Nominators are exhausted from 2016's disruption. When humanity looks back on zombie buzzwords, they will see disruption bumping into other overused synonyms for change.