Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 31, 2017

A former dean of students at Washington University, in St. Louis, has been indicted on a federal child pornography charge. The former official, Justin X. Carroll, retired earlier this month for "personal reasons," but the university said it became aware of the investigation on Dec. 20 and immediately banned Carroll from campus. Carroll, had also served as Washington's interim athletic director, officially resigned on Jan. 5. The indictment covers activity between November 2015 and December 2016, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and includes allegations that Carroll was in possession of sexual videos involving children. 

"While our investigation is ongoing, at this point, we have no reason to believe that Mr. Carroll had inappropriate interactions with any member of the university community or any participant in university programs," the university said in a statement Monday. 

January 31, 2017

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced during his State of the State address Monday that all adult residents will be able to attend the state's community colleges tuition- and fee-free. The idea builds on the success of the widely-heralded Tennessee Promise, which offered free tuition, last dollar scholarships at community colleges to the state's high school graduates. 

"We have to do more for adults in Tennessee," Haslam said. "I'm introducing the next step in making certain everyone in Tennessee has the opportunity to earn a degree by proposing Tennessee become the first state in the nation to offer all adults a college education free of tuition and fees." 

The state's officials have a goal to have 55 percent of the adult population with a degree or certificate by 2025, but they're about 870,000 degrees short, he said. 

The proposal, which isn't expected to cost taxpayers, would be offered through the Tennessee Reconnect initiative, which already allows adult students to earn a certificate for free at any of the state's colleges of applied technology. 

January 31, 2017

The University of Maine is building on its highly visible tuition-matching program for undergraduates by starting a similar new program for graduate students.

The university's new regional graduate scholarship will be available to new fully admitted students from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont starting this fall. It will drop out-of-state tuition from $1,361 per credit hour to $650 per credit hour for 22 programs. That's the same price or lower than students would pay if they were attending a flagship campus in their own state, according to the university.

January 31, 2017

The former loan guarantor USA Funds has agreed to pay $23 million to settle a lawsuit that challenged the right of such agencies to collect fees from borrowers who had defaulted on loans but started repaying them. A federal appeals court sided with borrowers in a class action, and USA Funds appealed to the Supreme Court. After mediation, USA Funds agreed to refund the fees by lowering the outstanding balances of most borrowers and making payments to some. USA Funds announced late last year that it would sell its loan guarantee business to concentrate on grant-making activities.

January 31, 2017

A professor at the Université Laval, in Quebec City, was among six killed in a shooting at a nearby mosque on Sunday, the CBC reported. Khaled Belkacemi, age 60, was a professor of soil and agrifood engineering at the university.

The Canadian news broadcaster also reported that the alleged attacker, Alexandre Bissonnette, age 27, is a social sciences student at Laval.

January 31, 2017

Law students in North Carolina who bought Apple's latest MacBook Pro laptop need to disable its signature feature in order to take the state bar exam, the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners has decided. Apple last year introduced an updated version of the laptop that on some models replaces the standard row of function keys with a touch bar -- a small, touch-sensitive OLED display that changes depending on which application is being used. The board said Friday that the display needs to be disabled before students can take the exam. In a statement to the blog 9to5Mac, a spokesperson for the board said the display "can compromise examination integrity and security."

January 31, 2017

Fayetteville State University administrators have stripped Miss FSU of her crown, sparking protests Monday and a Twitter storm anchored by the hashtag #BringBriaBack.

Administrators at the North Carolina college revoked Bria Perkins’s title last week, The Fayetteville Observer reported, but they have offered little explanation to students since.

A spokesperson for the university emailed students, faculty and staff last Friday to inform them of the decision, adding that they “believe this is in the best interest of the university and its students.” Due to student privacy laws, the spokesperson said, he could not comment further about the situation.

In response, about 100 students gathered Monday morning to demand the administration reinstate their “queen.” Students expressed their outrage on Twitter as well.

“Bria is honestly the perfect image of a campus queen,” one person tweeted. “Well rounded, humble and a servant leader. #bringBriaback.”

Another student tweeted, “I don't know who's [sic] ‘best interest’ it was to take our queen. All I know is the students of #FayStaye [sic] want our Miss FSU back. #BringBriaBack.”

Perkins had fulfilled just over half of her time as Miss Fayetteville State University, which was set to run for the duration of the 2016-17 academic year.

Miss FSU is to serve as an ambassador of the college, to represent the values of the institution and to act as a role model and mentor for other students, according to the Miss FSU contract.

January 31, 2017

Today on the Academic Minute: Matt Fotis, assistant professor and co-chair of the theater department at Albright College, discusses the role of political satire in the age of post-truth. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

January 30, 2017

Kenneth Atwater, president of Hillsborough Community College in Florida, was arrested Saturday night for driving under the influence, and he spent the night in jail before bond was posted Sunday morning, The Tampa Bay Times reported. Authorities said Atwater was driving erratically, he refused a breath analysis test and his speech was slurred. Atwater did not respond to an email message from Inside Higher Ed seeking comment.

The college's board released this statement to Inside Higher Ed: "The District Board of Trustees of HCC is in the process of gathering all of the facts from this situation. Once we have had an opportunity to conduct a thorough review, we will determine the necessary next steps ensuring that we protect the best interests of the college."

January 30, 2017

Non-tenure-track faculty members at private colleges are unionizing at an unprecedented rate, according to a new study published in The Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy. In recent decades, faculty unions became a rarity in private higher education because of the Supreme Court ruling that tenure-track professors have managerial authority and are thus not entitled to collective bargaining. But that ruling did not cover the growing share of faculty jobs off the tenure track. In the first nine months of 2016, 19 non-tenure-track unions were certified at private colleges. Of these units, 63.2 percent combine full-time and part-time non-tenure-track faculty members, 26.3 percent are units of part-time faculty only, and 10.5 percent are full-time-faculty units.

The author of the paper is William A. Herbert, executive director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions, at Hunter College of the City University of New York.

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