Federal Scrutiny of University Technical Institute Campus

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina last week issued a subpoena to Universal Technical Institute Inc., the for-profit chain disclosed in a corporate filing. The inquiry covers a "broad range of matters" at the institute's campus in Mooresville, N.C., including its compliance with a federal rule that requires for-profits to receive less than 90 percent of their revenue from the federal government.

Pell for Prisoners Announcement Coming

The U.S. Department of Education is moving closer to an official announcement of an experiment to allow some prisoners to receive Pell Grants. On Monday Arne Duncan, the education secretary, came close to dropping the details for an experimental sites project, which would grant a limited waiver to the federal rules that prevent prisoners in state and federal prisons from receiving Pell Grants. As Inside Higher Ed reported in May, prison education programs at a handful of colleges might be eligible to participate in the experiment.

Duncan said the feds are working on an experimental sites program that would open up Pell eligibility to "incarcerated adults seeking an independent, productive life after they get out of jail," according to a transcript of the major policy speech Duncan gave at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. When asked during a phone call with reporters for more details, Duncan said, "Stay tuned." He is scheduled to appear at a Maryland prison on Friday with Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney general. The event will include a visit to Goucher College's prison education program, and a "major announcement" is planned.

The U.S. Congress banned the use of Pell Grants by prisoners in 1994. Congressional Democrats have called for the ban to be dropped. If the experimental access is successful, it could bolster the case for a full restoration. But opposition appears likely among Republicans.

A Look at the High School Biology Teacher Workforce

Biology educators occupy nearly half (44 percent) of all high school science teaching assignments -- more than double the percentage of chemistry educators, according to a new study published in BioScience. The biology education workforce increased some 50 percent between 1987 and 2007 due to biology’s “gateway” status among the high school sciences, the study says. The female proportion of the biology workforce also grew over the same period, from 39 to 61 percent. That’s more than in all other science, technology and math fields, according to the study.

At the same time, biology educators were more likely than their colleagues in other fields to teach outside the discipline. The number of biology educators with more than 20 years of teaching experience also dropped by some 20 percent between 1990 and 2007. Lead author Gregory T. Rushton, an associate professor of chemistry at Kennesaw State University, and his co-authors note that this is due in part to increasing numbers of teachers entering the workforce after careers outside education, for whom “the biologist identity may be stronger than that of teacher.”

Rushton and his colleagues propose stricter certification requirements for biology teachers and more targeted professional development. They also propose matching curricula to teachers’ expertise, as opposed to offering “a static, predetermined slate of science courses at each school.” The longitudinal study is based on the National Center for Education Statistics’ Schools and Staffing surveys from 1987 through 2007.

U of Georgia to Hire 56 New Faculty Members, Reduce Class Size

The University of Georgia is launching a $4.4 million initiative to reduce class size, it announced Monday. The university will create more than 300 new course sections in 81 majors by fall 2016, mainly through hiring dozens of new faculty members in the coming year. Georgia’s current student-faculty ratio is relatively low for a research university, at 18 to 1, but the initiative ensures that a majority of the new course sections will have fewer than 20 students each. The move builds on other recent attempts by the university to increase student-faculty interaction, including a new graduation requirement that all 27,000 undergraduates engage in experiential learning such as internships, research or study abroad.

New presidents or provosts: Cerritos Claremont Leeds Montgomery Schenectady SLCC Unity UT Washington Wayne State

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  • Sheila C. Bair, former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, in Washington, has been named president of Washington College, in Maryland.
  • Rick Caulfield, provost at the University of Alaska-Southeast, has been promoted to chancellor there.

Football conferences putting medical spotters in replay booths

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College football conferences agree that putting additional medical spotters in replay booths is a good idea, but they're debating about giving those observers the power to stop a game.

New presidents or provosts: Allied Brockport EMCC Golden Gate Hocking IIT Mansfield North Dakota Samford UMass

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  • Frances Bronet, distinguished professor and dean of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts at the University of Oregon, has been named provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Illinois Institute of Technology.

Kaplan CEO Steps Down

Kaplan's CEO, Thomas C. Leppert, will step down after two years on the job, the for-profit higher education company said on Thursday. Leppert will be replaced by Andrew S. Rosen, the executive vice president of Graham Holdings Company, which owns Kaplan. Rosen, a veteran at the company, is also Kaplan's chairman.

Kaplan has diversified in recent years, and does a substantial amount of business with nonprofit higher education. Like several other large for-profit chains, the company has reduced its campus footprint amid the sector's declining enrollments. In February it sold 38 Kaplan College campuses to Education Corporation of America, a privately held for-profit.

Essay on mistakes of rookie deans

Eli Jones shares advice on how to avoid common pitfalls.

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Pushing Back on Vanderbilt's Compliance Cost Claims

In February officials from Vanderbilt University said the annual cost of federal regulation for the university is $150 million, or 11 percent of its total budget. Those numbers figured prominently in an American Council on Education report that argued against overly burdensome federal regulations. Senator Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican and chair of the Senate's education committee, also has cited Vanderbilt's $150 million figure in his push to eliminate red tape.

However, as The Chronicle of Higher Education reported yesterday, that $150 million includes costs that are not related to the federal regulations in question. The Chronicle, citing some numbers from The Hechinger Report, said $117 million of Vanderbilt's cited regulatory costs were associated with the university's substantial research operation. And, as The Chronicle reported, the federal government reimbursed Vanderbilt for $20-30 million of those research costs. The university also counted $6 million in accreditation activities that had little to do with federal regulation toward its eye-catching compliance figure.

Vanderbilt said it plans to release more information about its federal regulatory costs.

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