Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 2:29am

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, owes more than $100,000 in loans for his children’s college education, newly released financial disclosure statements show.

Walker reported owing between $100,000 and $125,000 in federal student loans for his two sons, according to disclosure forms posted online by CNN. Walker’s sons are attending Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Earlier this year, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Democratic candidate for president, disclosed that he and his wife owed nearly $340,000 in student loans taken out for their children’s education.

Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 3:00am

Valdosta State University announced Wednesday that 33 faculty and staff members will have their positions eliminated, WALB News reported. Details on which jobs are being eliminated were not available. Officials at the Georgia institution blamed a 17 percent decline in enrollment since 2011.

Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 3:00am

Pennsylvania State University this week unveiled a new academic logo. And even though the university isn't touching sports imagery, alumni are not happy. In the image at right, the old logo is on the left and the new one on the right. The university said that the old logo was designed in the '80s, before web use was key. Of the new logo, Penn State said: "The updated mark focuses on the head and face of the Nittany Lion Shrine in a more contemporary and engaging way, continuing its heritage and providing the same sense of stature as the sculpture. A slight curve at the top of the shield makes it more distinctive, while reflecting the shape of the lion. Additionally, the lion is now positioned to look forward and connect with the Penn State name."

On Twitter, many said that the new logo's lion appeared to be a zombie or the mascot for a financial institution. Other choice comments included, "The new Penn State logo would be perfect if Penn State was a pre-K," "new Penn State Nittany lion logo looks like that hypnotized dog looking at cupcakes," and "The lion in Penn State’s new academic logo looks like it’s just rolled around in a bunch of catnip."

One alumnus posted an apparently rejected alternative.

Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 3:00am

IT staff members at George Fox University have been saving iMac boxes as new machines are purchased and distributed -- with a major project in mind. They have built the iWheel, arguably an old-school tool for transportation. And they are demonstrating its use on campus. Details may be found here and a video follows.

Thursday, August 6, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Philipp Ruprecht, professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, is figuring out how volcanoes function. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of Oregon has settled a lawsuit with a student who said she was gang-raped by three male basketball players. Oregon will award the student $800,000 and free tuition at the university. It will also adopt a policy requiring transfer students to report their disciplinary history to the university.

The female student sued Oregon and its men's basketball coach last year over allegations that they recruited one of the players who allegedly assaulted her while knowing that he had previously been accused of sexual assault at Providence College. The suit also alleged that the university had scrubbed the three players' transcripts of any references to sexual misconduct, making it easier for them to transfer to play elsewhere after they were accused of misconduct at Oregon. The three students -- who were not charged -- were suspended for up to 10 years, but all have since transferred to play basketball at other colleges.

In addition, the student accused the university of violating her privacy by accessing her campus therapy records without her consent. As the lawsuit contended that the ordeal caused the student emotional distress, the university says it examined her mental health records to prepare for the litigation. The decision to review those records led to a national debate over privacy rights of campus sexual assault victims, though legal experts said the university did nothing illegal.

"I do not believe any of our coaches, administrators or other university personnel acted wrongfully, nor do I believe that any one of them failed to live up to the high moral standards that we value and that they embody in their work every day," Michael Schill, Oregon's president, said in a campuswide email on Tuesday. 

"I do believe that we can no longer afford to debate the incident and must instead move forward and implement a comprehensive set of policies to ensure that all of our students will feel secure in the knowledge that they will be free from sexual violence and feel confident should allegations of misconduct be brought forth they will be dealt with fairly, effectively and expeditiously."

Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - 3:00am

With many people worldwide increasingly outraged over big-game hunting, an accountant at Idaho State University has become the next target of anger. Sabrina Corgatelli, an accountant at the university, has posted numerous photographs on her Facebook page showing animals she has killed in Africa. And while there have been no suggestions she did anything illegal, she is being attacked online (and on her Facebook page). The university released a statement to the Associated Press Tuesday saying: "This is not an Idaho State University matter. While the individual in question is an employee, her personal choices are not representative of the university."


Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - 3:00am

In advance of the first Republican presidential debate this week, the American Federation of Teachers is trying to call attention to candidates’ ties to the for-profit education industry.

A website registered to the labor union says that “Republicans have embraced for-profits while tearing down public institutions to benefit their blue-chip friends.”

It outlines various connections between some of the GOP presidential hopefuls and for-profit colleges, taking aim at the support that former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida and Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin have provided to for-profit colleges.

Some of the connections were less direct. The site, for instance, calls Ted Cruz "a Republican for profit," citing his decision to launch his campaign at Liberty University, "which embraces the for-profit model." Liberty University is a nonprofit Christian college with one the country's largest online programs.

AFT has endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for president. Her financial disclosure last week revealed that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was paid at least $16.5 million by the for-profit college chain Laureate Education for serving as honorary chancellor. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - 8:36pm

Three Senate Democrats on Wednesday called for an independent investigation into the U.S. Department of Education’s review of its loan servicing contractors that largely cleared the companies of allegations they overcharged military service members.

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Senator Patty Murray of Washington and Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut asked the department’s inspector general to investigate the “adequacy and accuracy of the review process.”

“Unfortunately, the review the department conducted has left us with more questions than answers,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter. “A detailed staff analysis of the [department’s] reviews and the descriptions of their findings raises doubts regarding whether [department] officials adequately reported the results of these reviews to the public.”

The Education Department’s review of the loan servicers began after the Department of Justice accused Navient, formerly known as Sallie Mae, of overcharging members of the military by not capping their interest rate at 6 percent, as is required under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Navient and Sallie Mae paid $97 million to settle the allegations, though they did not admit any wrongdoing.

Education Department officials reviewed some 900 military members' loan files and concluded that service members were overcharged by loan servicers in fewer than 1 percent of those cases.

On Wednesday, Warren’s office also released a report describing flaws in the Education Department’s approach to the review and the calculation of its results.

“We share the commitment of the Senators to our service members, and we welcome any review of our results,” Education Department Press Secretary Dorie Nolt said in an email. “We will review this report and will continue to examine our processes to ensure that our service members receive every benefit they are due.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - 4:28am

A former assistant professor is suing Northwest Christian University, in Oregon, saying that she was fired for being pregnant outside of marriage, The Oregonian reported. The suit states that a dean told her that maintaining a non-marital relationship with the father would set a bad example for students. When the professor said she would stay in the relationship without marriage, the university fired her, the suit charges. The university did not respond to a request for comment.


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