Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 1, 2016

The Center for Excellence in Higher Education, a chain of for-profit colleges, is suing the Department of Education after it was blocked from converting to nonprofit status. 

The Utah-based organization alleges in a lawsuit filed in federal district court that it was the victim of a political agenda and that the department's decision was arbitrary, capricious and inconsistent with precedent.

Converting to nonprofit status would free the chain of having to comply with the so-called 90-10 rule -- which dictates that for-profits can take in no more than 90 percent of revenue from Title IV federal student aid -- as well as new gainful employment regulations targeted at the for-profit sector. The New York Times first reported the lawsuit. 

In announcing the decision to block the nonprofit conversion in August, Education Secretary John King said the decision should serve as a warning to other for-profits looking to dodge oversight by switching tax status. 

September 1, 2016

Today on the Academic Minute: Mary Caton-Rosser, Associate Professor of Mass Communication at Black Hills State University, explores what this means for students and professors as they adapt to a changing world. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

August 31, 2016

Hillary Clinton this week unveiled her proposals to improve mental health services in the United States, and several parts of the plan (which did not have full details on how things would work) focus on colleges and their students. Clinton's plan would:

  • Have the federal government encourage every college to have adequate mental health services for students. In addition, the proposal would provide support for "under-resourced schools that serve a disproportionate number of low- and middle-income students and communities of color."
  • Provide federal support ($50 million) for groups working on suicide prevention at colleges. "Hillary believes that every college campus should have a comprehensive strategy to prevent suicide, including counseling, training for personnel, and policies that enable students to take leave for mental health," the plan says.
  • Direct the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to work with colleges "to ensure that students of color and LGBT students are receiving adequate mental health coverage."

 

August 31, 2016

Syracuse University has been criticized by some of its minority students for an increased emphasis on rankings and for scaling back involvement with the Posse Foundation, a highly regarded program to attract low-income students to colleges they might not otherwise select. New data from the university show that the percentage of minority students in the class enrolling this fall is 24 percent, down from 28 percent a year ago. The figure includes all minority groups, and those who identify with more than one racial and ethnic group. The university is pledging a series of steps to enroll more minority students. Among the steps:

  • Creating a team of four experienced recruiters focused specifically on diversity recruitment.
  • Charging all admissions staff members to prioritize recruiting a diverse student body.
  • Creating and enhancing incentive financial aid to encourage minority enrollment.

 

August 31, 2016

Felician University is investigating a possible hack of its housing director's email after a mass email was sent out denigrating black students, NorthJersey.com reported. The mass email upset many on the campus. Felician officials said that they suspect a hack because it was sent to some email lists to which the housing director does not have access, and because they don't believe the email is consistent with her views. The email, in part, complained about the attitudes of black students and said that parents wonder about whether the university has a drug problem.

August 31, 2016

Both the president and the Board of Trustees Chairman are turning over at Erskine College, suddenly leaving the Christian institution in South Carolina without top leadership just months after it was roiled by proposals to split off its seminary.

Board Chairman Ron Vigus has resigned from the role effective immediately, a college spokesman confirmed Tuesday. The resignation came as President Paul Kooistra plans to accelerate a retirement that was only recently announced. On Thursday Erskine announced that Kooistra, who started as president in August of 2014, would continue to lead the college as it carried out a six-to-18-month search for a new permanent president. But Kooistra now plans to step down no later than Oct. 31. Kooistra said in a letter he decided on the shorter time frame for personal reasons. No reason was given for the sudden change in board chair.

Erskine, affiliated with the conservative Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, has been home to no shortage of change in recent years. Earlier this year it was pushed to explore splitting from its seminary in what would be a move running counter to a trend of consolidation between seminaries and institutions. In 2014 it struggled to find a president who met religious standards.

August 31, 2016

Ten trustees have quit the board of Arcadia University in recent months, while another five left as their terms expired, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The resignations come at a time that the university is trying to shrink a deficit and faculty leaders say not enough information has been shared about the budget for the coming year. They also say that they have been told some layoffs may be in the works. The university released a statement that said that the 2016-17 budget would be balanced, but no detailed were provided.

 

 

August 31, 2016

Newly released federal data show the enrollment patterns of the 1.1 million military and veteran students who were attending college in 2012, the most recent year covered by the report from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics.

During the four years before 2012, the percentage of military undergraduates attending for-profit institutions increased to 24 percent from 14 percent, the report said, while the percentage attending community colleges declined to 37 percent from 42 percent.

In addition, both undergraduate and graduate military students were more likely to enroll in online programs than their nonmilitary peers. The report found that 18 percent of military undergraduates took all of their courses online, compared with 12 percent of their nonmilitary peers. Among military graduate students, 41 percent attended fully online compared to 19 percent of nonmilitary graduate students.

August 31, 2016

Hillary Clinton has named Rohit Chopra, the former student loans ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to her campaign's transition team. 

Chopra brings both experience in the higher ed sector and progressive bona fides to the campaign. He was one of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren's first hires at the agency, where he was a frequent opponent of the for-profit industry and student loan servicers. Politico first reported the appointment.

Since January, Chopra has served as a special adviser to Education Secretary John King, working on higher education. He worked at the Center for American Progress between stints at the CFPB and Department of Education.

Previously, Clinton adviser Ann O'Leary had been the only person named to the transition team with a background in education policy. 

August 31, 2016

Brock University, in Ontario, on Monday announced that an incoming president due to start her term on Thursday will not be assuming the presidency after all.

The statement from the chair of Brock’s Board of Trustees does not give a reason, other than to say the decision not to proceed with Wendy Cukier’s appointment as president and vice-chancellor was “mutual.” Cukier, the vice president of research and innovation at Ryerson University, in Toronto, would have been Brock’s first female president and the first Brock graduate to hold the role.

“Dr. Cukier is an outstanding alumnus and scholar, with a well-established record as a university leader,” John Suk, the board chair, said in a written statement. “We greatly appreciate her contributions to the university since her appointment was announced last December. The long transition process gave both parties an opportunity to work together and many positive developments ensued. Dr. Cukier brought to the University new opportunities that will be part of her legacy. However, both parties have determined through this process that it was best not to proceed with her appointment.”

Cukier did not immediately respond to an email message seeking comment on Tuesday. 

The Brock University Faculty Association expressed concern about the development, noting: “we received essentially no information about the reasons for the failure of this appointment process and no insight about how to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.”

“For those of us who have talked with Dr. Cukier about her vision and plans for Brock, as well as those who were encouraged by her stated qualifications, commitment to action in areas such as equity and social justice, and expertise in university-business collaboration, the loss of Dr. Cukier is profoundly disappointing and frustrating,” the written statement from the Faculty Association said. “There were stirrings of optimism and hope that Brock would be revitalized and find new direction under her leadership. Instead, the sudden and last-minute loss has left many of us in a state of shock, confusion, and apprehension about what will happen next.”

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