The state of Montana will pay $245,000 to Jordan Johnson, who was a quarterback for the University of Montana and who accused the institution of bias and irregularities in charging him with rape, The Billings Gazette reported. The Johnson case was part of a series of incidents that led to federal investigations of the university and widespread accusations that it did not properly investigate sexual assault cases, especially those involving athletes. But when Johnson was charged in state court with rape, a jury acquitted him and he then sued the university and several of its officials, a suit that will be dropped in return for the settlement payment.
Indiana University at Bloomington plans to review 18 sexual misconduct cases on which a member of the hearing board was Jason Casares, an associate dean of students and deputy Title IX coordinator, who was recently accused of sexual assault, the Associated Press reported. The accusations, which Casares denies, have attracted widespread attention because they were made by the president-elect of the Association for Student Conduct Administration against Casares, who formerly had that title. Indiana has also placed him on leave, pending a full investigation.
Submitted by Paul Fain on February 18, 2016 - 3:00am
In most states, public funding for higher education has not recovered in the wake of the last recession. And odds are that state disinvestment will get worse after the next economic downturn, according to New America. That, in turn, means more picking up slack by the federal government.
The think tank this week proposed a broad set of fixes to what it says is an "irreparably broken" financial and regulatory bargain between the federal government, states and colleges. New America's report, dubbed "Starting From Scratch," described the group's plan to change the current federal higher education funding structure from behaving like a voucher program, where aid follows students, to one based on formula-funded grants. It would eliminate federal student aid programs and replace them with grants to states.
To participate and receive federal funding, states would have to agree to maintain their higher education funding levels, to provide a 25 percent match for the federal grant and to play a more "active role" in holding colleges accountable for their performance. All types of colleges -- public, private and for-profit -- could participate. To receive grant money, institutions would need to have enrollments with at least 25 percent of students being low income, to meet student financial needs and to adhere to performance standards, such as graduation rates and labor-market outcomes for students.
"Imagine a world where all student financial need is met. There are no federal loans, no Pell Grants and no higher education tax credits," the report said. "Instead, states receive formula funds for colleges that enroll a substantial share of low-income students and serve all students well."
Some of the group's ideas only work in the context of the full plan, said Kevin Carey, who directs the education policy program at New America. Yet the funding structure of higher education has become a hot-ticket issue, he said. Presidential candidates, for example, are talking about their own ambitious plans -- like free college on the Democratic side. The plan would cost about $39 billion annually in additional federal funding, compared to current spending levels. That's a similar amount to the cost of the higher education plan proposed by Hillary Clinton.
"This is a proposal that's very much in the mainstream in 2016," Carey said.
The University of Iowa saw a 36 percent jump in faculty resignations last year compared to a year earlier -- 66 resignations in 2013-14 versus 90 in 2014-15 -- according to a report from the Iowa Board of Regents. Over the same period, the number of resignations at Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa fell slightly, the Iowa City Press-Citizenreported.
Kevin Kregel, associate provost for the faculty at the University of Iowa, told the Press-Citizen that the institution is looking into what caused the spike, and regents are set to discuss the matter at their meeting later this month. Based on information from faculty exit surveys, part of the problem is faculty salaries compared to those outside academe, Kregel said. That's especially true in the medical school, from which a majority of last year’s resignations came. Bruce Harreld, university president, recently asked the Iowa Legislature to approve a $4.5 million increase in state funding, to be used to attract and retain top faculty members, according to the Press-Citizen. Twenty-five resignations across the University of Iowa came from minority faculty members, the highest among the state’s regents universities, though Kregel said that was comparable to other institutions as a percentage of total resignations.
Submitted by Jake New on February 18, 2016 - 3:00am
The University of Texas at Austin set rules to allow handguns on campus and inside classrooms, the university announced Wednesday, though it opposes the law that requires the change.
Under the new law, which goes into effect this August, licensed handgun owners in Texas can bring concealed handguns onto public college campuses. The law excludes private institutions, and Baylor, Southern Methodist, Rice and Texas Christian Universities have all vowed to still ban handguns on campus. The law does allow for some exemptions on public campuses, and the University of Texas will not allow guns to be carried in most campus residences, dining halls, private offices, labs that contain dangerous chemicals and areas where K-12 programs are held. Semiautomatic handguns can only be carried if they do not have a round in the firing chamber.
“I do not believe handguns belong on a university campus, so this decision has been the greatest challenge of my presidency to date,” Gregory Fenves, president of UT Austin, said in an email to students. “I empathize with the many faculty, staff, students and parents of students who signed petitions, sent emails and letters, and organized to ban guns from campus and especially classrooms. As a professor, I understand the deep concerns raised by so many. However, as president, I have an obligation to uphold the law.”
The university's new policies are based on the recommendations of a 19-member campus-carry working group created by Fenves last year. Students for Concealed Carry, an organization in favor of carrying firearms on campus, opposed many of the working group's recommendations and said in a statement on Wednesday that the new policies were too restrictive. The organization said it was shifting "its focus to litigation," and accused Fenves of caving to the demands of "a cabal of fear-mongering professors."
The Obama administration should improve its College Scorecard by imposing higher standards for calculating loan repayment rates and breaking down earnings data by program, a new report by the Center for American Progress recommends.
The analysis of the U.S. Department of Education's Scorecard concludes that while much of the data is helpful, there are a number of policy and technical changes that could improve the consumer tool. The U.S. Congress also should reverse the federal ban on a student-unit database to more accurately track student outcomes in higher education, the report advises.
Andrew Bournos, a controversial new member of the Board of Trustees of Mount Saint Mary College, in Newburgh, N.Y., has resigned. Faculty members objected to Bournos’s social media profile, in particular his tweet about a video that claimed Jews and Muslims have no faith. The college initially decided that because Bournos hadn’t “liked” the video, he hadn’t endorsed it. But in a brief email to faculty and staff members on Tuesday -- a day after Inside Higher Ed wrote about the controversy and various other faculty concerns about shared governance on campus -- Albert Gruner, board chair, said he had accepted Bournos’s resignation. A college spokesperson said via email, "All of us at the Mount remain committed to providing our students with an outstanding education steeped in the proud tradition of the Dominican sisters." The college's advocacy chapter of the American Association of University Professors said in a statement Wednesday that Bournos's departure is "welcome news for the entire college community, and we hope it is the first of many steps to be taken by the Board of Trustees in order to repair and restore a healthy working relationship between the administration and the faculty, staff and students[.]"