Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - 3:00am

The National Labor Relations Board has ordered the rehiring of and back pay for three janitors who worked at Nova Southeastern University, The Miami Herald reported. The janitors were involved in a union organizing drive just before the university decided to hire an outside contractor to handle custodial work. Most of the university's janitors were hired, but not these three -- an act the NLRB found was retaliatory. The university declined to comment, saying that the matter was one for the contractor, not Nova Southeastern.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - 3:00am

The state financial aid program in Texas is becoming overwhelmed with applicants who meet both the academic and income eligibility requirements, The Dallas Morning News reported. Despite state moves in recent years to tighten eligibility, about 24,000 eligible students could be left out of the program by next year. The shortfall comes at a time when state leaders have made it a goal to increase the share of Texans who enroll in and complete college programs.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - 3:00am

Joe Peek, a finance professor who has been elected as faculty trustee at the University of Kentucky, is trying to make points with humor, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. He has mocked the university's goal of being among the top 20 universities nationally as unrealistic, while pushing for improvements he says are feasible. He has noted that coaches are fired when they don't meet their goals and asked why the university doesn't act the same way with regard to those in charge of academics. "As a citizen of Kentucky, why are you not pissed off that they don't feel the same way about the academic vision?" And he's even joked about the divide between board members and faculty members. After being elected, he sent out an e-mail saying: "Now that you have foolishly elected me as your faculty trustee, I have lost all respect for you, thereby fully qualifying me to be a UK trustee." His first board meeting is this month.

Friday, September 3, 2010 - 3:00am

Ron English, football coach at Eastern Michigan University, told the Associated Press that his comments have been misunderstood and that he has great respect for single mothers. English has been trying to quiet criticism over comments he made over the summer in which he said that he wanted football recruits whose fathers had been involved in raising them because they know how to be taught by a man. This week he told the AP that "I regret that some people thought I was attacking single moms," and he noted that his views come from his own experience. "I was raised by my grandmother. My father wasn't really a part of my life until I was a teenager. So, I have all the respect in the world for women raising kids on their own." And while saying he wouldn't discriminate against those raised in single-parent homes, he said it was legitimate to talk about the issue. "I received some great e-mails from women, telling me they didn't know how rational people couldn't understand what I was saying and encouraging me to stick by my guns," he said.

Friday, September 3, 2010 - 3:00am

Lasell College has agreed to pay students $191,000 to resolve complaints from the Massachusetts attorney general that the college improperly encouraged students to borrow funds from a lender that was giving the institution's aid officials free trips, The Boston Globe reported. There were less expensive loans available at the time, and the college never revealed to students that its officials had ties to the lender they were sent to. The lender paid for trips by the financial aid director to resorts in Florida and Arizona to serve on an advisory board. College officials said that the travel was legitimate, but that they agreed to settle the case by paying funds back to students who borrowed. A statement by Martha Coakley, the attorney general, said: "Colleges and universities are in a unique position of trust and have a responsibility to provide lending advice that is in the best interest of students and untainted by conflicts of interest. Certainly, no school should ever attempt to restrict a student’s abilities to obtain more affordable loans.’’

Friday, September 3, 2010 - 3:00am

Philip Conroy, who was named president of Quincy College in June, has withdrawn from the position and will remain as vice president for enrollment management at Mount Ida College, The Patriot Ledger reported. Quincy's board is divided on many issues, including the presidency, which was offered to Conroy on a 6-to-5 vote and has yet to be followed up with a contract offer. "It has become increasingly clear to me that the board of governors is unable to unite behind a new president," said Conroy’s resignation letter. "[W]hile the offer of the position was extended there has been no movement toward a contract. Therefore, it is with a profound sense of sadness and disappointment that I respectfully decline the offer to serve as president of Quincy College."

Friday, September 3, 2010 - 3:00am

Prompted in part by a March shooting by a fired maintenance worker, Ohio State University has announced several changes in hiring procedures. The Columbus Dispatch reported that the university will conduct background checks on all new hires, with a single company doing the work. In addition, civil service workers who are fired during their probationary periods will be required to leave work immediately. The fired worker in the March shooting, who shot two others before killing himself, had been had been told he was being dismissed but was still working at the time of the shootings.

Friday, September 3, 2010 - 3:00am

A survey by an independent company has found that 85 percent of faculty members believe that trust between faculty and administration has broken down, and 80 percent say that there is no collaborative decision-making, The Albuquerque Journal reported. The survey was conducted following a faculty vote of no confidence in the administration and a report by the university's accreditor noting the breakdown in faculty-administrator relations. Many professors have complained that they have been given little say in dealing with deep budget cuts that have gone ahead while spending has gone up on administrative functions and athletics.

Friday, September 3, 2010 - 3:00am

Andrew Cuomo, New York State's attorney general (and the Democratic candidate for governor), announced Thursday that his office has started an investigation into "deceptive credit card marketing practices" that focus on college students. He said that his office has sent letters to every college and university in New York State, asking for information on agreements and marketing deals so he can look for "problematic" practices. Cuomo's statement said he was concerned about reports of colleges giving credit card companies students' personal contact information without the students' permission and of cases in which the credit card companies "have bombarded students with solicitations at student centers, athletic events, orientations, classroom buildings, and other campus locations."

Thursday, September 2, 2010 - 3:00am

Education Management Corporation, the company that runs the Art Institutes, Argosy University and other for-profit colleges, has turned to external consultants to help employees craft letters voicing opposition to the U.S. Department of Education's proposed regulations on "gainful employment." CEO Todd Nelson wrote to employees last week asking them to cooperate with representatives from DCI Group who would write personalized letters on behalf of employees, which they could then sign and send to Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Steve Burd, editor of the New America Foundation's Higher Ed Watch blog, which first reported on Nelson's request, characterized it as an attempt at "manufacturing dissent."

In an e-mail message to Inside Higher Ed, an Education Management spokeswoman, Jacquelyn Muller, said it was "important" for the company's employees and students to be able to speak out against the proposed rules. "We will continue to communicate our opposition to the proposed Gainful Employment Rule and support voluntary efforts that allow our employees, students and faculty to do so as well."

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