Higher Education Quick Takes
Facing criticism from local politicians and conservative groups, the County College of Morris board this week reversed a policy on undocumented students that was adopted only two months ago, The Star-Ledger reported. The New Jersey community college had voted to permit such students to pay in-state tuition rates if they graduated from high school in the United States and entered the country before the age of 16. But this week, the board voted to charge such students out-of-state tuition rates. For a full-time student, the shift increases tuition for a year from $3,450 to $9,780. The Daily Record reported that several board members were influenced by the threat of a lawsuit over the policy granting in-state tuition rates.
David G. Carter, the former chancellor of the Connecticut State University System, has agreed to pay a $2,000 fine for not reporting a conflict of interest when his office approved the hiring of his wife, who had retired as a dean, as a temporary retiree rehire, The Hartford Courant reported. The rehire created a "double dipping" situation in which she was simultaneously receiving a pension and pay, and authorizing that should have been reported as a conflict, authorities said.
The cheer team at California State University at Long Beach has been stripped of its national title after the discovery that one of the members was no longer a student, NBC Los Angeles reported. The university is investigating the possibility that another team member may also have not been a student.
Ellen Lewin, a professore of anthropology and gender, women's and sexuality studies at the University of Iowa, is under fire for her response to a mass e-mail from a campus Republican group about "Conservative Coming Out Week." Lewin replied "FUCK YOU REPUBLICANS" from her university account. Now Republicans are complaining about her language, The Iowa City Press Citizen reported. Lewin has apologized, sending a subsequent e-mail message in which she said: "I admit the language was inappropriate, and apologize for any affront to anyone’s delicate sensibilities. I would really appreciate your not sending blanket emails to everyone on campus, especially in these difficult times."
Dharun Ravi, who was the roommate of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student who killed himself last year, was charged with 15 counts related to allegations that he filmed Clementi's encounter with a man and broadcast it in an act of anti-gay bias, the Associated Press reported. Ravi also was charged with trying to cover up what he did. Ravi's lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.
The provost of Drake University, Michael Renner, announced Tuesday that he would step down next month because of differences with David Maxwell, the president, The Des Moines Register reported. “In my recent conversations with the president, it has become clear that our respective leadership philosophies differ in important ways,” said Renner, in an e-mail to the campus. “In view of this, I believe that it is in the best interests of the university for me to step aside and allow the president to seek a new provost.” Renner declined to elaborate on the differences and Maxwell could not be reached.
Marc Hauser, a Harvard University psychology professor who the university determined committed scientific misconduct, will be barred from teaching for the next year, The Boston Globe reported. While the university has announced that it found Hauser guilty of misconduct, it has been vague about the nature of the misconduct. Hauser had previously been scheduled to teach in the fall.
A state judge in North Carolina has ruled that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill improperly cited the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act to deny journalists access to athletes' parking tickets and certain phone records of athletics officials. Additional requests from both The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper, and several other publications are still pending.
Blackboard, the e-learning giant, announced on Tuesday that it has received "unsolicited, non-binding proposals" to be bought out. The company, which is publicly traded, appears to be taking the offers seriously; it has retained the investment firm Barclays Capital to help it figure out whether it wants to sell. Blackboard's stock leaped by nearly 30 percent with the news.
The entity that has proposed to acquire Blackboard is not known. Scott Berg, a research analyst with the investment bank Feltl and Company, told Inside Higher Ed he thinks it is unlikely that the suitors would be other software companies, since the software products Blackboard sells -- online learning platforms, emergency notification systems, and data analytics tools, among others -- would not make an obvious addition to the arsenal of any other software firm. (The only software-related companies Berg speculated might make a bid for Blackboard are Microsoft and Pearson. Neither of those companies elected to comment.) It is more likely that a potential suitor would be a private equity firm, Berg said, in which case the consequences for Blackboard's many higher-ed customers would be difficult to predict.
Kenneth C. Green, director of the Campus Computing project, speculated that an acquisition could mean increased costs for colleges. “Blackboard has been aggressive in buying other firms,” Green wrote in an e-mail, “more than half a billion dollars in acquisitions since 2006…. That's a lot of debt to pay down, and more debt is likely to come following an acquisition. All of which suggests that the company's new owners will be looking for new revenue, which could well mean price increases across the range of Blackboard's current product lines and services.”
This article in The Financial Times explores reasons some companies may or may not be likely to be making a bid for Blackboard. Joshua Kim, who writes the Technology and Learning blog for Inside Higher Ed, has written in the past why a Blackboard purchase would make sense for either Microsoft or Google.