Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, July 29, 2016 - 4:09am

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, included her college affordability plan in her speech Thursday night accepting the nomination.

"Bernie Sanders and I will work together to make college tuition-free for the middle class and debt-free for all. We will also liberate millions of people who already have student debt," she said in the official prepared text of the speech, from which she deviated only slightly.

Clinton also stressed that postsecondary education is about more than four-year degrees. "And here’s something we don’t say often enough: college is crucial, but a four-year degree should not be the only path to a good job," she said. "We’re going to help more people learn a skill or practice a trade and make a good living doing it."

Friday, July 29, 2016 - 3:00am

Margaret McKenna (right), told Thursday that the board of Suffolk University was about to fire her, resigned. A Suffolk statement confirmed the resignation but offered no details. Earlier this year, board members were planning to fire McKenna even though she has strong backing from students, faculty members and alumni. Amid numerous protests on her behalf, the board and McKenna reached a compromise under which the board would adopt governance changes and McKenna would remain as president until the start of the 2017-18 academic year. Board members criticized some of McKenna's spending decisions, but many on campus supported those decisions and said that the board was engaged in micromanaging and trying to dictate the public relations firm with which Suffolk should work. Many of McKenna's supporters have also said that the board criticisms of her are sexist, in that some trustees appeared uncomfortable with a strong woman making decisions.

In a statement to The Boston Globe, McKenna said, “I fought a good fight against entrenched interests and a board that did not understand university governance.”

Friday, July 29, 2016 - 3:00am

The former head men's basketball coach at Westchester Community College was indicted Thursday on charges that he forged transcripts of players to help them earn scholarships at National Collegiate Athletic Association programs.

According to the indictment, the former coach, Tyrone Mushatt, falsified the transcripts of eight star players to make it appear as though they received grades in courses they never enrolled in. He forwarded those transcripts to several Division I institutions, including St. John's University, Florida A&M University and Quinnipiac University. Mushatt's lawyer said the former coach is innocent.

"The defendant abdicated his responsibility as a college coach and brazenly and methodically subverted the integrity of the college athletic system," Catherine Leahy Scott, New York's inspector general, said in a statement. "His repeated abuse of his authority violated the trust instilled in his position and undermined students who work hard, both academically and athletically, to achieve their dreams."

Friday, July 29, 2016 - 3:00am

The University of Michigan will settle with a former graduate student for $165,000 over her dismissal from an engineering program in 2011, the Associated Press reported. Michigan denied Jennifer Dibbern’s claims that it retaliated against her for her efforts to unionize research assistants and to change the campus antiharassment policy, but said it wanted to end a lengthy, expensive legal battle.

A federal judge had dismissed most of Dibbern’s claims prior to a trial scheduled for June, based in part on documents suggesting she had been warned repeatedly that she wasn’t spending enough time in the lab, according to the AP. Yet U.S. District Judge Sean Cox reportedly said Dibbern had shown evidence of a “casual connection” between her dismissal and union activities. Dibbern also reported being sexually harassed by male students. “We resolved the case to everybody’s satisfaction,” said Dibbern’s attorney, David Blanchard.

Friday, July 29, 2016 - 3:00am

University of Louisville President James Ramsey officially resigned late Wednesday, ending a 14-year tenure that descended into controversy.

Ramsey's resignation, effective immediately, was accepted at a special Board of Trustees meeting that stretched roughly seven hours and included extensive negotiations, according to The Courier-Journal in Louisville. The university president’s contract would have run through 2020, but he agreed to offer his resignation earlier this year when Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin overhauled Louisville’s Board of Trustees. Ramsey also offered to serve for a year as interim president, but the new board rejected the idea. The two sides reached a deal that will pay Ramsey $690,000 -- the equivalent of two years of his university salary.

But Ramsey plans to continue at the University of Louisville Foundation, he said in a statement issued through his lawyer. Ramsey is the foundation’s president, earning about $8 million between 2012 and 2014 in the role. He said he plans to continue to work “in whatever capacity the foundation board thinks best.” Ramsey’s future with the foundation will not be decided until September at the earliest, according Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman, who chairs both the foundation and university boards.

Ramsey’s resignation comes amid a legal battle over whether Kentucky’s governor had the power to dismiss and replace Louisville’s Board of Trustees. Louisville Provost Neville Pinto will lead the university while it searches for a new president.

Friday, July 29, 2016 - 4:04am

Universities should evaluate their graduate programs in science and technology for ways to reduce “stereotype threat,” in which female and minority students may feel less able to succeed academically even if in fact they can do so, says a report issued Thursday. The report examines steps colleges and universities can take to increase the diversity of the biomedical research workforce. The report also recommends that colleges and universities use holistic review -- in which applicants are considered individually without relying on cutoff scores or formulas of grades and test scores -- in doctoral admissions in science and technology fields.

The report, “Increasing Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce: Actions for Improving Evidence,” was released by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, and the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Friday, July 29, 2016 - 3:00am

A plan between two major universities in Sydney, Australia, to merge their art schools has been dropped, just five weeks after it was announced, The Australian reported. The University of Sydney announced Thursday that it decided not to pursue a possible merger of its Sydney College of the Arts with the University of New South Wales' Art & Design school. "Despite the best efforts of all involved, our two institutions have a different vision of what a center of excellence in the visual arts might entail and the extent to which it is important to preserve the SCA’s distinctive tradition," Sydney's vice chancellor, Michael Spence, said in a message to students at the college.

Friday, July 29, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Martin Krieger, professor of planning at the University of Southern California, examines how the clustering of people in metropolitan areas applies to physics and whether cities behave like particles in a nucleus. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, July 28, 2016 - 4:27am

A student at Emmanuel College has used a public Facebook post to say that she'll be leaving the college because of its finding that a student she accused of rape was not responsible for sexual assault. “It is clear to me that you value your reputation more than you value your community. The compassion that you spoke so strongly about in the beginning of my time with you was only skin-deep. You host events that 'empower' women like myself to speak freely of issues like sex and race, but these are just empty words,” says the Facebook post by Joanna Vandyke. The post is being widely shared, along with comments criticizing the college.

The college issued a statement to Boston.com in which it said, “We are deeply concerned about the statements recently presented by a student on social media. There were more aspects to the account than what was shared on social media by this single party. The facts in this case overwhelmingly supported the Student Conduct Board’s conclusion.”

Vandyke told Boston.com she met the student she accused of rape on Tinder and that she was sexually assaulted after they were drinking and smoking pot together. The student whom Vandyke accused of rape, in a written statement that she released to Boston.com, said they had sex three times that night. He said that they did not formally discuss consent, but that she pointed at and grabbed his genitals.

Thursday, July 28, 2016 - 3:00am

Edwin Lara, a part-time campus public safety officer at Central Oregon Community College, has been charged with murder for allegedly running over a woman on campus and then getting rid of her body, CNN reported. Lara was arrested in California, based in part on a tip from his wife.

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