Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, October 14, 2011 - 3:00am

In July, University of Baltimore officials denied allegations made by Phillip Closius, who in an e-mail about his resignation as dean of the law school that the university was using tuition from law students to subsidize the rest of the institution, to the detriment of the law school. Now, however, the university has embarked on a campaign to add $1 million a year to the law school's base budget for the next five years, The Baltimore Sun reported. The increase will be funded by giving the law school a larger share of the revenue it generates.

Friday, October 14, 2011 - 3:00am

African-American scholars who earned their Ph.D.s at highly research intensive universities are significantly less likely than white, Latino and Asian peers to be employed at similar universities, a new National Science Foundation study finds. The NSF study examines numerous characteristics of minority Ph.D. recipients in science, engineering and health fields -- from where they earned their doctorates, where they work now, and their rank, status and fields of study at those institutions, among other things -- and the finding on black Ph.D.s is among the most interesting.
While 41.5 percent of all professors who earned doctorates in science, engineering and health fields at American universities with "very high" research activity are were employed by such institutions in 2008, the figure was much lower (30.8 percent) for African-Americans. (No other racial group was below 39.1 percent, the figure for Latino scholars.) The study finds that the black scholars were likelier than others to work instead at master's granting universities, and attributes the finding, in part, to the fact that meaningful numbers of them work at historically black universities, which by and large are master's institutions. That probably accounts for about a third of the gap, estimates Ansley Abraham, director of the Southern Regional Education Board's SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program, and while some of those professors are at HBCUs by choice, because they believe in the institutions' mission, "we don't know how many ended up there because they didn't have other good choices."
Among the study's other findings:

  • Black scholars were significantly less likely than science and health Ph.D. recipients of other races to have earned their doctorates from U.S. universities with very high research activity (63 percent vs. 80 percent for white Ph.D. recipients, 77.1 percent for Hispanics, and 79.3 percent for Asians).
  • About one third of black, 37 percent of Latino, 91 percent of Asian and 11 percent of white recipients of science, engineering or health Ph.D.s from American universities were not born in the United States.
Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Students have not made secret their distaste for Higher One, the company with which many colleges work to issue loan refunds via debit card. At issue are the fees and charges for using the card, which sometimes doubles as a student ID, and the company's and colleges' marketing (which tends to result in students sticking with the card). Nonetheless, a student at Catawba Valley Community College who complained on Facebook about the relationship between the two entities was apparently barred from campus for two semesters because of his comments. Besides criticizing the partnership on the North Carolina college's own Facebook page, he also posted, "Did anyone else get a bunch of credit card spam in their CVCC inbox today? So, did CVCC sell our names to banks, or did Higher One? I think we should register CVCC's address with every porn site known to man. Anyone know any good viruses to send them?" According to a notice of suspension from the college, the student's comment violated a policy against "commission of any other offense which, in the opinion of the administration or faculty, may be contrary to the best interest of the CVCC community." The student has sought help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in his appeal for reinstatement.

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

An appeals court in Florida ruled Wednesday that the state legislature, not the Florida Board of Governors, has ultimate authority to set tuition for public colleges, the News Service of Florida reported. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the state's 1st District Court of Appeal came in a lawsuit brought by a group of citizens (led by the former U.S. Senator Bob Graham) that said a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2002 shifted tuition-setting power from the legislature to the governing board. Those behind the lawsuit said that they would appeal the court's ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Florida Atlantic University has announced that is it saving enough money from installing a solar roof on one of its buildings that it can use the extra funds to support a fellowship. The Sun Sentinel reports that the university says that the fellowship is the world's first to be "funded by the sun."

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The Duke Endowment on Wednesday announced a $35 million grant to Johnson C. Smith University. The grant is believed to be among the largest ever to a historically black college. The funds will pay for the construction of a science center, the renovation of a dormitory and for scholarships.

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Nicholas Leadbeater of the University of Connecticut discusses how easily biodiesel fuels can be refined from food industry waste. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Students have not made secret their distaste for Higher One, the company with which many colleges work to issue loan refunds via debit card. At issue are the fees and charges for using the card, which sometimes doubles as a student ID, and the company's and colleges' marketing (which tends to result in students sticking with the card). Nonetheless, a student at Catawba Valley Community College who complained on Facebook about the relationship between the two entities was apparently barred from campus for two semesters because of his comments. Besides criticizing the partnership on the North Carolina college's own Facebook page, he also posted, "Did anyone else get a bunch of credit card spam in their CVCC inbox today? So, did CVCC sell our names to banks, or did Higher One? I think we should register CVCC's address with every porn site known to man. Anyone know any good viruses to send them?" According to a notice of suspension from the college, the student's comment violated a policy against "commission of any other offense which, in the opinion of the administration or faculty, may be contrary to the best interest of the CVCC community." The student has sought help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in his appeal for reinstatement.

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

How financially risky are some international branch campuses? The Boston Globe reported, in explaining why some American colleges are having second thoughts on the outposts, that Suffolk University lost $10 million on a branch in Senegal. When the university shut down the campus this year, it decided it would be easier to educate the remaining 104 African students by moving them to Boston than by keeping the operation in Senegal. Suffolk is hardly the first American college to reconsider branch campuses. Here is an article from Inside Higher Ed about the decision of Michigan State University to pull out of Dubai.

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Wednesday that it had concluded its long investigation into possible recruiting violations involving Auburn University's former star quarterback, Cam Newton. Although the association's terse statement (reproduced in its entirety below) didn't specifically say so, the clear implication was that the inquiry had ended without any findings of wrongdoing. The investigation explored allegations that Newton's father, Cecil, had told Mississippi State University that his son would enroll there for a mere $180,000 payment, which prompted speculation that he might have accepted money to enroll, as he ultimately did, at Auburn. Other players reported that they were paid to attend Auburn, too. But the inquiry was unable to confirm those allegations, the association said.

The NCAA's statement: "After conducting more than 80 interviews, the NCAA has concluded its investigation into Auburn University. The NCAA enforcement staff is committed to a fair and thorough investigative process. As such, any allegations of major rules violations must meet a burden of proof, which is a higher standard than rampant public speculation online and in the media. The allegations must be based on credible and persuasive information and includes a good-faith belief that the Committee on Infractions could make a finding. As with any case, should the enforcement staff become aware of additional credible information, it will review the information to determine whether further investigation is warranted."

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