Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 21, 2018

The University of Exeter apologized after a career services employee included a quote from a German World War II general in what was meant to be a motivational email to students, the BBC reported.

An Exeter spokesman said the career services staff member found the quote from the German general, Erwin Rommel, on the website Quotefancy. The quote reads, "One cannot permit unique opportunities to slip by for the sake of trifles."

"Unfortunately, the staff member did not recognize the name attributed to the generated quote," the spokesman said. "This was a genuine error and in no way intentional, however, we apologize unreservedly for any offense it may have caused, and have put additional processes in place to ensure this doesn't happen again."

June 21, 2018

Four of every five students who earned bachelor's degrees in the teeth of the Great Recession were employed and/or still enrolled in postsecondary education four years later, a new federal study shows. The study, from the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics, examines how students who graduated college in 2007-08 and were tracked in the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study were faring in 2012.

Sixty-nine percent were employed, 11 percent were employed and enrolled in some form of study, 6 percent were only enrolled, 7 percent were unemployed, and 8 percent were out of the labor force and not enrolled.

About three-quarters of the 2007-08 graduates had taken out student loans for their undergraduate or graduate education. Of the bachelor's degree recipients who had not subsequently enrolled in another degree program, two-thirds had borrowed and accumulated an average of $29,600 in debt. Of those who did enroll in another program, 71 percent borrowed for an average of $63,600.

June 21, 2018

An ambitious college affordability plan released by the Center for American Progress Wednesday would aim to guarantee that no student has to borrow to pay for their education.

Unlike other notable free college or debt-free college proposals, the plan, dubbed "Beyond Tuition," would impose quality standards on institutions to ensure they address disparate outcomes for students of color, low-income students and other nontraditional groups.

And the CAP plan would provide up to $10,000 a year for costs not related to tuition and fees such as housing, food and transportation.

It proposes that families earning up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level, about $38,000 for a family of four, would have tuition and fees covered at a public university. Above that threshold, families would make contributions as a share of their income. The plan would be funded through a federal-state matching grant; although the state match would vary, the federal government would cover on average 70 percent of the costs in a given state.

In contrast to other college affordability plans, the CAP proposal would include students attending nonprofit private colleges, although students attending those institutions would be expected to make a higher family contribution, as would students attending public institutions out of state. For-profit colleges would be excluded from Beyond Tuition, although they would maintain existing access to federal aid under the proposal.

“It is well past time for a bold, targeted investment in our higher education system,” said Ben Miller, the senior director for postsecondary education at CAP. “For too long, a college degree has been out of reach, particularly for underrepresented students. This plan seeks to close persistent race and income gaps in college access and completion; address historic and systematic inequity in our higher education system; and ensure that access to higher education in America is not a privilege, but a fundamental civil right.”

June 21, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Lou Roper, professor of history at SUNY New Paltz, delves into how the British Empire used slavery to fuel its expansion in the 17th century. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

June 20, 2018

Numerous academics, higher education leaders and scholarly associations are releasing statements opposing the Trump administration's policy of separating immigrant parents and children at the southern border. Among the statements:

June 20, 2018

More than 120 survivors of sexual abuse by former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar signed a letter released Tuesday calling on trustees to fire interim president John Engler.

“President Engler and leaders at MSU have refused to listen,” says the letter, released days before a Friday meeting of the university’s Board of Trustees. “They persist in attacking our character, our integrity and our intelligence. These attacks send a clear message that survivors who speak up will likewise be attacked. They send a clear message that perpetrators and enablers will not be held accountable. They send a message that nothing at MSU -- none of the mindsets that allowed Larry Nassar to abuse children for decades -- have changed.”

It goes on to say that the university cannot become an institution of “integrity and safety” until Engler is no longer president.

Engler, a Republican former governor of Michigan, has been under fire after press reports about emails he exchanged with one of his top aides. In the emails, Engler accused one prominent Nassar survivor, Rachael Denhollander, of likely receiving kickbacks from trial lawyers. He also wrote that survivors were being manipulated by lawyers.

In the wake of those reports, two Michigan State trustees said last week that Engler should resign. Numerous Democratic and Republican lawmakers have also said he should be removed from the presidency.

The letter released Tuesday -- which Denhollander posted on social media -- specifically calls on other trustees to demand Engler’s resignation. It says Nassar’s survivors are not being revictimized or manipulated.

“We chose this fight,” it says. “We chose to speak up because it was clear that no one at MSU would. We chose to speak up because it was the right thing to do. Future and current survivors who deserve justice should know they can raise their voice without being characterized as pawns too foolish to know they are manipulated.”

The email exchange that set off the firestorm began after one of Nassar’s victims accused Engler of offering her $250,000 in a private meeting in March to settle her lawsuit against Michigan State.

Michigan State reached a $500 million settlement with Nassar’s survivors in May, months after the former university and U.S. gymnastics team doctor pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting hundreds of women. The Nassar case has already led to the resignation of longtime Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon in January. She was quickly replaced by Engler, a move that led to protests by faculty, students and staff who were unhappy with the process leading to his selection.

June 20, 2018

The University of Guelph, in Canada, has announced that it is giving raises of 2,050 Canadian dollars ($1,543) to every full-time faculty member who is female and who does not identify as male, The Canadian Press reported. The announcement followed a study finding that female faculty members earned less than their male counterparts, even controlling for factors such as seniority and performance.

June 20, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Ana Jimenez, assistant professor of biology at Colgate University, looks into why small dogs outlive big ones. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

June 19, 2018

Past and present members of HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory’s editorial board published an open letter Monday expressing “concern for some disturbing news regarding the journal’s leadership.” The letter cited prior reporting from Inside Higher Ed about allegations that the journal’s longtime editor-in-chief, Giovanni Da Col, a research associate in anthropology and sociology at the University of London, harassed and assaulted journal staff members. He’s also been accused of financial misconduct.

“These are serious accusations, which must be thoroughly investigated,” reads the new letter, signed by more than 80 editorial board members. “To the extent that they are verified, those responsible must be called to account.” Signatories expressed support for those affected and called on the journal’s Board of Trustees “to make public, to the extent legally and ethically permissible, the details of previous and current investigations into the allegations, both of bullying and abuse in the workplace and of financial malpractice.” They also called on the trustees to make an “unequivocal statement that responsibilities and lines of management have been clarified, so that should such abuse occur in future, there are adequate safeguards in place to deal with it promptly and appropriately.” The trustees, including Da Col, said last week that they were working to find out what could be disclosed about a prior internal investigation into the allegations.

June 19, 2018

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has cleared Junot Díaz, the writer and a faculty member, to return to teaching. WBUR reported that MIT released a statement saying the following: "To date, MIT has not found or received information that would lead us to take any action to restrict Professor Díaz in his role as an MIT faculty member, and we expect him to teach next academic year, as scheduled." Numerous women have come forward to say that Díaz harassed them. Several of the allegations concern Díaz's conduct on campus visits and when interacting with graduate students and others.

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