Georgia chancellor wants to merge historically black Albany State with Darton State

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Georgia chancellor wants to combine historically black Albany State U with nearby Darton State, where most programs are at the associate-degree level.

UNC Faculty Upset by Raises for Chancellors

A dozen of the University of North Carolina System's 17 chancellors were given raises this year -- ranging from 8 to 19 percent -- by the Board of Governors, and several faculty aren't happy, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.

The chancellors' raises come at a time when faculty pay is stagnant. The recently passed state budget provides for a onetime, $750 bonus to all university system employees and faculty.

The East Carolina University Faculty Senate passed a resolution expressing “disapproval of the taxpayer-funded pay raises for top management at a time of stagnant taxpayer-funded wages for the rank and file who are major contributors to the work of the university.” And, according to the News & Observer, 270 people have signed an online petition that asks chancellors to reject the raises, with some petitioners calling the raises “shameful” and “greedy.”

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Wittenberg President Abruptly Resigns Amid Cutbacks

After leading Wittenberg University through two rounds of major cuts since she joined the institution in 2012, Laurie Joyner abruptly resigned from the presidency of the private Ohio college Tuesday. 

Upon her arrival, Joyner was tasked with improving the university's finances, and recently the college announced a plan to cut $6.5 million from its budget, according to an article in the Springfield News-Sun. “This decision to leave Wittenberg has not been easy,” Joyner said in a news release announcing her departure.

Added Wittenberg governing board chairperson Thomas Murray, in a statement: “Dr. Joyner is leaving Wittenberg University in a much stronger financial position and with talented staff members to continue the progress begun during her tenure.”

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Milwaukee technical college board under fire for lack of minority representation

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At Milwaukee Area Technical College, some students, faculty and community members feel the new, pro-business appointment process to the institution's board disenfranchises minorities.

NCAA: 86 Percent of Division I Athletes Graduate

College athletes are graduating at record rates, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association's metric known as the Graduation Success Rate. Eighty-six percent of Division I athletes who entered college in 2008 graduated within six years, according to new data released Wednesday by the NCAA. That's two percentage points higher than last year.

Men's basketball players earned a 77 percent GSR, up three points from last year, and women's basketball players earned a GSR of 89 percent, up two points. Football Bowl Subdivision football players graduated at a 75 percent rate, and 76 percent of Football Championship Subdivision players graduated within six years. The rate for white athletes increased one point this year to 90 percent, and African-American athletes graduated at a rate of 73 percent, up three points from last year.

The record rates come after a year of high-profile academic scandals involving big-time college athletics, including cases of academic fraud that may stem from the increasing pressure on colleges to improve the academic performance and graduation rates of their athletes. While NCAA critics question the accuracy of the association's academic measurements, Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, said in a statement that there's no question that athletes are graduating at higher rates than ever.

“Student athletes continue to make important gains in the classroom, and the NCAA and its member schools are thrilled with their success,” Emmert stated. “We also are proud of the role academic reforms have played in helping students earn their degrees. We will continue to support rules and policies that encourage students to progress toward graduation.”

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Northwestern philosophy professor resigns during termination hearing over sexual harassment findings

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In an unexpected move, a Northwestern professor found guilty of sexual harassment resigns during his termination hearing.

Court: Harris-Stowe State U Owes $4.85 Million to White Former Professor

Harris-Stowe State University must pay a former full-time education instructor $4.85 million in damages related to her racial bias claims, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. A St. Louis circuit court ruled that the historically black university discriminated against Beverly Wilkins, who is white, when it fired her in 2010.

Wilkins said one administrator in particular, Latisha Smith, a former dean and department head, failed to follow a reduction in force policy in pegging her for termination over several other black faculty members. The lawsuit alleges that Smith purged the department of all white faculty members, except one protected by tenure, and that she covered up her bias by deleting incriminating emails. Smith blamed budget cuts for Wilkins’s termination, but continued to hire additional faculty members -- including two to cover Wilkins’s classes, who together were paid more than her salary -- Michael Meyers, her lawyer, told the Dispatch.

Ronald Norwood, chairman of the Harris-Stowe State University Board of Regents, called the ruling “regrettable” in a statement, and said the university was dedicated to moving forward after key leadership changes.

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New Lumina Papers on Performance-Based Funding

The Lumina Foundation this week released the first four of 13 papers it plans to roll out in coming months on performance-based funding in higher education. At least 35 states are either developing or using funding formulas that link support for public colleges to student completion rates, degree production numbers or other metrics. The Lumina papers look at how those policies are working, with particular interest in their impact on the completion rates of underserved student populations.

"Numerous independent research studies have found evidence that funding models with financial incentives for colleges and universities to help students complete their programs of study result in better pathways and supports for students," the foundation said in a written statement. "The need for finance systems oriented around improving student outcomes is urgent, especially for ensuring more equitable outcomes for students from all racial and ethnic backgrounds."

The first four papers give an overview of outcomes-based funding. Future papers will focus on state policy metrics, the relationship of student incentives to performance funding and institutional responses to the formulas.

Broad Coalition's Goals for the Higher Education Act

A coalition of 12 organizations, including New America, the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Center for Law and Social Policy, on Wednesday released a set of shared principles for policy makers to consider in the run-up to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the law that governs federal aid programs. While the groups have different takes on many issues in higher education, they said the current formulation of the law does not meet the needs of students for high-quality, affordable and relevant educational opportunities.

The groups described seven principles: outcomes are what matter, federal financial aid policies need to be more flexible, higher education needs to do more to connect learning and work, accreditation processes need to be more transparent and rigorous, quality assurance processes should focus more on programs and credentials, policy should encourage innovation and experimentation, and that the Higher Education Act should be better coordinated with other federally funded education and training programs.

"Reauthorization offers the chance to renew our country’s commitment to higher education for all who seek it," they wrote, "while also helping institutions adapt to the fast-paced, technology-driven global economy that their students will face at graduation."

Therapist Who Criticized Oregon Over Records Resigns

A therapist at the University of Oregon who criticized the university for its handling of an alleged sexual assault victim's campus therapy records resigned Monday.

Jennifer Morlok was one of two employees at Oregon's counseling center who blew the whistle on how the university sought and received the records of a student who said she was gang-raped by three Oregon basketball players. The university asked to see the records after the student sued the administration over its handling of her case. The consensus among student privacy experts was that Oregon did nothing illegal, but many considered the university's actions to be an ethical breach that exposed an alarming loophole in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

In February, Morlok penned an open letter denouncing the university's actions. The letter and its fallout prompted the Oregon House of Representatives to unanimously pass a bill that ensures “confidential communications between a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking and victim advocates or services programs are to be kept confidential from disclosure, and by default will not be admissible in court.” The controversy also led to the U.S. Department of Education releasing new guidance about the issue and to federal lawmakers calling for the loophole to be closed.

In a letter sent to the university's president on Monday, Morlok said that after coming forward with her concerns, she was "sidelined" and vilified by administrators and her coworkers.

"I am no longer willing to be treated as though I am an enemy of the very counseling services I enjoyed providing to students -- or an enemy of the very university I received my degree from -- where I had hoped my two sons would attend," she wrote. "It is wrong to treat employees who share problems with the system as though they are the problem."

In a statement Monday, Robin Holmes, Oregon's vice president for student life, said that the university was "opposed to anything that can be construed as workplace retaliation against those who air critical views or opinions."

Another lawsuit

Oregon settled the alleged assault victim's lawsuit in August, awarding her $800,000 and free tuition. On Friday, another lawsuit related to the case was filed against Oregon -- this time by the accused student at the center of the allegations.

Brandon Austin, a former Oregon basketball player, is suing the university for $7.5 million, alleging that Oregon violated his rights to due process when it suspended him over the alleged assault. According to the lawsuit, the university refused to allow "Austin to subpoena witnesses who would be supportive of his defense, refused to provide unredacted reports, refused to provide a contested case hearing, refused to allow cross-examination and otherwise refused to provide the due process required by the United States Constitution and applicable laws."

In the suit, Austin claims that the university "outrageously suspended him," and that the punishment caused him emotional distress and lessened his chances of one day playing in the National Basketball Association. Austin transferred to Northwest Florida State College and played basketball there last season, but has since left to pursue playing the sport professionally.

On Friday, the university released a statement saying Austin "was afforded fair and consistent due process that fully complied with the university's legal obligations."

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