Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, May 6, 2016 - 3:00am

The board at Lake Michigan College voted to fire their new president Thursday after a public hearing.

The president, Jennifer Spielvogel, had only been with the community college since January, when she succeeded former president Robert Harrison. She had previously served as vice president of evidence and inquiry at Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio. The board unanimously voted to suspend her on April 8.

The college cited reasons including $20,625 in unapproved and unauthorized costs expensed to the college, multiple policy violations, improper conduct, improper management behavior, lack of professionalism, and inadequate goals and objectives.

In a statement, the board alleges that Spielvogel failed to get approval or authorization on the following:

  • She spent nearly $2,800 on architectural design services before asking permission to remodel her office.
  • She received $6,000 in an executive discretionary fund to cover organization membership dues, charity events and build relationships with college partners, but instead she purchased personal tickets a Kenny Chesney concert and made a charitable donation in her name to the college's scholarship auction.
  • She spent more than $7,000 on items for an "elaborate, unauthorized presidential inauguration." Those items include a $3,235 ceremonial chain of office medallion, $2,185 for invitations and decorations, and $1,391 for a specially designed cap and gown to wear during the event and $365 in staff time.
  • She spent more than $5,000 in unauthorized travel to two conferences where she "presented on behalf of her former employer on topics unrelated to her experience at LMC."

Attorneys representing Spielvogel said she disputes the allegations and plans to pursue a civil suit against the board. Spielvogel asserts that she didn't conduct renovations or redecorating in the office and that she offered to pay for the ceremonial chain herself.

"She says that any expenditures she made were in accordance with the policy of the college and were below the threshold she needed for approval," said Raymond D. Cotton, vice president of Higher Education for ML Strategies and a partner in the Mintz Levin law firm. Cotton also specializes in presidential contracts and governance issues.

Friday, May 6, 2016 - 3:00am

Maria Harper-Marinick, who had been the interim chancellor of Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona, was permanently appointed to the position on Wednesday, according to The Arizona Republic.

Harper-Marinick is succeeding Rufus Glasper, who had served as chancellor for 13 years before announcing his retirement. Prior to her appointment, Harper-Marinick was Maricopa's second-highest-ranking administrator. She had been the district's executive vice chancellor and provost since 2010.

Maricopa is one of the country's largest community college systems but has faced recent funding challenges after the state completely cut funding to the district last year.

Friday, May 6, 2016 - 3:00am

Since 2002, U.S. medical school enrollment has increased by 25 percent, according to a new report.

The country is facing a physician shortage, and 10 years ago the Association of American Medical Colleges called for a 30 percent increase in enrollment by 2015.

Now, the AAMC’s new report shows that medical schools are responding: 20 new M.D.-granting medical schools have been established since 2002, and the country should reach the 30 percent benchmark by the 2017-18 academic year.

Across the country, medical schools are also more focused on serving diverse health needs. Last year, 84 percent of medical schools had -- or planned to establish -- policies focused on recruiting diverse students who want to work with underserved populations. Another 49 percent are focusing on students from rural communities.

Colleges of osteopathic medicine are also expanding particularly quickly. Using 2002 as a baseline, first-year enrollment in these institutions is expected to grow by 55 percent by 2020.

Friday, May 6, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Jay Zagorsky, research scientist at Ohio State University, discusses whether the stereotype that blonds are dumb is real or just a myth.

Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 4:18am

A new Twitter account, @RapedAtSpelman, has angered many students at Spelman College and Morehouse College, two elite historically black colleges with adjoining campuses. (Spelman is a women's college and Morehouse a men's college.) The account on Twitter, which cannot be verified, says it is by a student at Spelman who was raped by four Morehouse students at a party and then found herself ignored or discouraged by college officials from pursuing the case. Mary S. Campbell, the president of Spelman, went on Twitter to invite the anonymous author of the Twitter account to contact her. Campbell also released a statement in which she outlined steps the college was taking to prevent sex assaults.

"I know that members of our Spelman community join me in expressing heartbreak and outrage over the incidents and experiences recounted on Twitter," Campbell wrote. "Because the Twitter account is anonymous, I tweeted an invitation to @RapedAtSpelman to reach out to me personally so I, and the college, can provide full assistance and support. We continue to follow leads to identify the victim to offer our help and services."

Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 3:00am

While the overall number of crimes reported by colleges and universities fell between 2001 and 2013, the number of reported forcible sex crimes has increased by 126 percent, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Center for Education Statistics. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of reports of sexual assault jumped from 4,000 to 5,000. It is unclear if the increase stems from a rising number of incidents, however, or more students reporting the crimes, the American Institutes for Research, which co-authored the report, said.

Arrests for drug law violations also increased, by 70 percent, according to the report. There were 781 hate crimes reported on campuses in 2013, a number that has stayed about the same since the incidents started being tracked in 2009. Overall, the number of campus crimes fell by 34 percent between 2001 and 2013.

Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 3:00am

Instructional designers do more than their title suggests, a new report found. In addition to creating online courses, a majority of the 853 instructional designers surveyed by the strategy and design firm Intentional Futures said they manage projects and train faculty members on a daily basis. The survey, which was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also found that a lack of faculty buy-in is the top issue facing instructional designers -- more so than a lack of time and other resources. The full report is available for download here.

Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 3:00am

While police investigate an apparent hate crime against a black University of Iowa student who was severely beaten near campus Saturday night, university officials are working to explain how more than three days passed between the attack and the institution’s response.

The university first released a statement on Twitter early Wednesday, responding to concerned students using the hashtag #ExplainIowa. Iowa officials said they did not learn of the attack until Tuesday, when they were contacted by a television news station in Chicago, where the student’s family lives. “We are deeply disturbed by the incident and concerned for the student,” the university tweeted.

The 19-year-old victim told police that he was walking in an alley in downtown Iowa City, across the street from the university’s campus, when three men began punching him and yelling racial slurs. He suffered damage to his eye socket and lost most of his two front teeth. He was released from the hospital Monday evening, at which point he reported the crime to police. Iowa City police said the case is being investigated as a hate crime. The suspects were described as being three college-age white men.

After the university was contacted by ABC7 in Chicago, officials reached out to the local police department for more information and then met with the student and his family Wednesday morning. It was after the meeting -- 84 hours after the incident occurred, 36 hours after the crime was reported to police and 12 hours after the news report aired -- that the university released a campus crime alert about the attack, as required by federal crime-reporting laws.

The delay angered many students on campus, who took to Twitter to ask how a news station in Chicago learned of an alleged hate crime against a student before anyone on campus did. “How many black students must be a victim of a hate crime before an alert is sent out,” one student asked. Tweeted another: “Thanks, Chicago, for letting us know what happened a 10-minute walk from my room.”

Iowa officials originally defended the university's response, noting that an alert was issued as soon as officials learned enough information about the attack following the news station’s report. Later, the university released a more conciliatory statement, saying the victim’s family had actually first contacted campus police to report the incident, but they were directed instead to the Iowa City Police Department because the crime occurred off campus. If Iowa students were involved in the attack, the university added, “they will be subject to disciplinary procedures,” including suspension or expulsion.

“We later learned that the student did visit UI police late Monday night, but because the crime occurred off campus, he was directed to ICPD to file a report,” the university said. “This was intended to prevent the victim from having to share his story multiple times. However, we now recognize this as a failure in current UI protocol and will be working with many campus and community partners, including ICPD, to improve reporting mechanisms for the future.”

Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 3:00am

More than 300 colleges are on the annual College Openings Update being released today by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. This list (which may get close to 350 institutions by the deadline Wednesday night) is of colleges that are still accepting applications for fall 2016. The report is not a comprehensive survey, but a voluntary system for colleges to opt to be included. As a result, NACAC officials say that ups and downs on the total number of colleges on the list should not be read as evidence of any particular trends. With that caveat, last year only 225 colleges were on the list, and the prior year's total was 257.

Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 3:00am

Students graduating from the Santa Ana Unified School District in California will receive free tuition in their first year at Santa Ana College.

The program will start this fall, and full-time students will be able to save as much as $1,104 for the year. Funding for the program will come from the Santa Ana College Foundation, with additional funding support from the State of California's Award for Innovation in Higher Education and Santa Ana College's Centennial Scholarship Campaign.

"This new level of support brings honor to the academic goals of our amazing students and will bring us ever closer to achieving a college degree in every home in Santa Ana," said Erlinda Martinez, president of the college, in a news release.

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