Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, July 13, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Scott McGraw, an anthropologist at Ohio State University, discusses his research on the dark side of cocoa farming. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, July 10, 2015 - 3:00am

On-campus crime has fallen by 25 percent over the last decade, from more than 40,000 reported incidents in 2001 to fewer than 30,000 incidents in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Education's annual report of crime statistics.

The number of reported on-campus crimes was lower in 2012 than 2001 in every category except for "forcible sex offenses," the report stated. The number of reported forcible sex offenses increased by 77 percent, from 2,200 in 2001 to 3,900 in 2012. That's a 15 percent increase from 2011, when 3,400 forcible sex offenses were reported. Arrests for drug law violations have increased by 76 percent since 2001, and arrests for liquor law violations have increased by 8 percent.

Friday, July 10, 2015 - 4:19am

The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents on Thursday approved a budget based on a $125 million cut in state funds to the system over the next year, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. Legislators and Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, have already approved a budget plan that cuts $250 million over two years and also freezes in-state tuition rates. The largest cuts are planned for the flagship campus at Madison. Most board members said that they had no choice but to approve the cuts. But one, Charles Pruitt, voted against the budget, saying that he wanted to express “profound disagreement” with state legislators who voted for the cuts in the state budget.

Friday, July 10, 2015 - 3:00am

When the accusations that Bill Cosby drugged and raped women started to receive considerable attention last year, some colleges moved to distance themselves from Cosby, while others did not do so. Now, with details about Cosby admitting in a legal proceeding to drugging women in order to have sex with them, at least one such college is reconsidering.

Central State University, in Ohio, released this statement: "Recent revelations regarding Mr. Bill Cosby’s activities in past decades have postured [sic] Central State University to re-examine its decision to maintain the Cosby name on one of its buildings. Although the Cosby name on the campus radio station is representative of the Cosby family, we are extremely sensitive of the effect that it may have on students, alums and the community. The maintenance or removal of the Cosby name will be discussed appropriately and actions relative to the final decision will occur immediately. Central State University is committed to protecting and preserving the rights and dignity of all people. The very unfortunate circumstances of the Cosby situation are troublesome and disappointing to all."

Friday, July 10, 2015 - 4:25am

University College London is standing by its decision to accept the resignation of Tim Hunt, a British biochemist who shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in Medicine, and who in June quit a largely honorary position at the university amid criticism over his comments on women. He resigned amid widespread anger that he said, at a conference, “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab -- you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticize them, they cry …. I’m in favor of single-sex labs.” While he apologized after that, he also said he was telling the truth. “I mean, it is true that I have fallen in love with people in the lab and that people in the lab have fallen in love with me. It's very disruptive to science.”

After University College London accepted Hunt's resignation, some scientists criticized the institution, saying that it was punishing Hunt for being politically incorrect, and that it inappropriately pushed for the resignation. On Thursday, the university's Council issued a statement saying that it had reviewed all the documents about the case, and that the Council
"unanimously supports the decision taken by UCL’s executive to accept the resignation." However, the statement added that "there are lessons to be learned around the communication process."

Friday, July 10, 2015 - 3:00am

The Obama administration has expressed a slew of concerns about the Senate's version of the 2016 spending bill for the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor, including that it would redirect funds away from the Pell Grant program and block enforcement of the administration's gainful employment rules. The Statement of Administration Policy stops short of threatening a veto at this stage of the process, but it warns that the legislation -- which the chamber's Appropriations Committee passed last month -- contains "ideological provisions" that threaten to undermine the appropriations process.

The bill would increase spending for the National Institutes of Health, but slash spending on workforce training and AmeriCorps and block the Obama administration from implementing regulations relating to gainful employment for vocational programs and its college rating system.

Friday, July 10, 2015 - 3:00am

The Higher Learning Commission removed the University of Phoenix from "on notice" status effective June 25, according to corporate filings published Thursday. The status is a sanction that indicates the institution is moving in a direction that could place it out of compliance with the accreditor's requirements.

Phoenix was placed on notice in July 2013 for a two-year period after the HLC, a regional accreditor, reaffirmed the university through the 2022-2023 academic year.

In a statement to Phoenix staff and faculty, President Tim Slottow and Provost Meredith Curley wrote: "We are appreciative of the work done by the HLC staff and the independent peer review team made up of professionals in higher education and their recognition of the efforts undertaken by everyone at University of Phoenix to satisfactorily resolve all concerns identified in 2013. But our work in this area is never done. We will host a comprehensive visit again in 2016-17 where we intend to demonstrate the university's further progress and continued compliance with all of the criteria for accreditation."

Friday, July 10, 2015 - 3:00am

The Lumina Foundation is funding a $2.25 million project to create a credential registry, which will help users compare the quality and value of credentials, including college degrees and industry certifications. The web-based system will receive credential information directly from issuing institutions. Its creators hope to create several applications, including one that will allow for the review of competency-based transcripts and portfolios that are based on transfer policies.

Other institutions that are participating in the registry's creation include George Washington University's Institute of Public Policy, Workcred (an affiliate of the American National Standards Institute) and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale’s Center for Workforce Development.

Friday, July 10, 2015 - 3:00am

After 13 years, South Carolina will once again be allowed to host National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournaments and other championship games after state lawmakers voted Thursday to remove the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds.

Since 2001, the NCAA has barred any state that flies the Confederate flag from bidding to host NCAA championships where host sites are preselected. That includes sports like men's and women's basketball, but not baseball. South Carolina last hosted an NCAA men's basketball tournament in 2002, before the ban went into effect.

"We commend South Carolina lawmakers for taking this action to remove the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds," Kirk Schulz, chair of the NCAA board of governors and president of Kansas State University, said in a statement. "For nearly 15 years we have specifically protested the flag by not allowing states like South Carolina to host preselected NCAA championships. With this impending change, and consistent with our policy, South Carolina may bid to host future NCAA championships once the flag no longer flies at the State House grounds."

The flag is expected to come down Friday. Mississippi is now the sole remaining state that cannot host NCAA championships under the rule.

Friday, July 10, 2015 - 3:00am

Moody's is considering changing the approach it uses to rate the financial health of more than 500 colleges and universities. The investors' service put out a call for comments on potential methodology changes on Wednesday.

If changes occur as proposed, Moody's predicts an updated formula will affect the ratings of about 5 percent of the postsecondary institutions it rates. The proposed changes include a scorecard that rates institutions based on their market profile, operating performance, wealth and liquidity, and the strength and diversity of their funding sources as well as their risk appetite.

Moody's rates 230 four-year public universities and university systems in the U.S., 275 nonprofit private colleges and universities, and 21 universities outside of the U.S. Combined, these organizations had approximately $235 billion of debt outstanding as of the end of the 2014 fiscal year.

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