Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 3:00am

Thomas J. Snyder, president of Indiana's Ivy Tech Community College, announced Wednesday that he will step down as leader of the statewide system. Snyder, 72, was recently named as a member of the White House's College Promise Advisory Board, a coalition of educators, politicians and business leaders organized to promote free community college.

Ivy Tech's Board of Trustees approved a transition contract for Snyder that will allow him to retire in 2016. He has led the system, one of the nation's largest, since 2007.

Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 3:00am

Daymar College has agreed to pay a $1.2 million settlement to former students who sued the Kentucky, for-profit company for false job placement claims and fraud, according to The Louisville Courier-Journal

The settlement requires Daymar to pay $1.4 million to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway's office. Students who attended the college in the five years ending July 27, 2011, would split the rest, while Conway's office will keep $200,000 to cover attorney's fees and to pay a claims administrator. The lawsuit had 413 private plaintiffs. 

In 2011, Conway charged the college with overcharging students for textbooks, misleading them about financial aid and failing to provide accurate information about the ability to transfer credit. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 3:00am

The American Institutes for Research will help the Jefferson Education Accelerator identify efficacious educational technology, the two organizations announced on Wednesday. The accelerator, founded by the University of Virginia, provides ed-tech companies that have progressed beyond the start-up stage with capital, mentoring and independent research that tests their products' effect in the classroom. Faculty members at the UVa Curry School of Education also participate in the accelerator's network of researchers. The accelerator in July announced Echo360, a lecture-capture technology provider, would become its first partner company.

Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 3:00am

Alumni from three New England colleges may have an easier time investing in one other’s companies after the launch today of several new private venture capital funds. Green D Fund, BlueCat Angel and Blue Ivy Venture all aim to support alumni- or student-led companies with alumni-backed investment from Dartmouth College, the University of New Hampshire and Yale University, respectively. All three funds are the latest in a series from Launch Angels Management Company. Their first, Green D’s predecessor, raised $1.5 million from 44 Dartmouth alumni and has so far invested in 10 different companies, all with Dartmouth alumni in leadership positions. The funds are private, for-profit and otherwise unaffiliated with the colleges.

Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 3:00am

Fall is here, and with it a new edition of Inside Higher Ed's Cartoon Caption Contest.

Click here to try to come up with a pithy caption for this month's cartoon.

You can vote here for your favorite of three finalists chosen by our judges from the submissions for last month's cartoon.

And congratulations are due to Louise Freeman, a professor of psychology at Mary Baldwin College and winner of our July competition. Her caption for the cartoon at right -- "Professor Bob quickly realized that asking his introductory statistics students to calculate 10 percent of 150 without using a calculator was an exercise in futility." -- received more votes from our readers than the other two finalists. She will receive an Amazon gift certificate and a copy of the cartoon signed by Matthew Henry Hall. Thanks to all for playing.

Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, John DesJardins, assistant professor of bioengineering at Clemson University, considers whether a football helmet can be concussion-proof. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 3:00am

U.S. News & World Report's rankings are out today, and while the methodology hasn't changed, the way the rankings operation calculates "assessment of excellence" (widely known as the reputation survey) has changed, apparently in response to the participation rates of college presidents and high school guidance counselors. Survey responses for those two groups make up 22.5 percent of the formula (15 percent from the presidents survey and 7.5 percent from the counselors survey). This part of the rankings has long been criticized. Presidents have been known to rank only their own institutions highly, and many experts say that presidents and guidance counselors seem always to favor historically strong institutions, or the most prestigious colleges over time.

This year 50 percent of presidents in the national universities category responded to the survey, and 46 percent of the leaders of national liberal arts colleges responded. Only 7 percent of high school counselors responded to the survey. While the presidential response rate hasn't fallen dramatically in recent years, as recently as 2005, 67 percent of presidents responded. The drop has prompted some to question whether enough presidents were responding for the survey to be meaningful. So this year, U.S. News for the first time combined the last two years of surveys of presidents. And after several years of combining the past two years of high school counselors, U.S. News is combining the last three years for that survey. The rankings methodology allows those who responded in multiple years to be counted each year they participate.

Robert Morse, who heads the rankings operation at U.S. News, gave this reason via email for the changes: "In both cases, this was done to increase the number of ratings each college received from the academic raters and high school counselors and to reduce the year-to-year volatility in the average peer score and high school counselor score."

We'll let other publications (and college public relations offices) boast about scores. But we can tell you that those at top of the various lists are … those whom you'd expect to find there.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 4:17am

The University of Iowa Faculty Senate has voted "no confidence" in the Board of Regents, The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported. Faculty members said that they were ignored in the process of choosing the university's new president, particularly when they urged the board not to select one of the four finalists, and then the board went on to select him. That finalist is Bruce Harreld, who was selected while lacking experience in higher education. The resolution adopted by the Faculty Senate said that the board showed a "blatant disregard for the shared nature of university governance."

After the vote, Bruce Rastetter, the board's president, issued a statement criticizing the Faculty Senate's action. "The landscape of higher education is changing and the current ways of operating are not sustainable," the statement said. "After listening to all stakeholder feedback as well as having frank conversations with each of the candidates, the board unanimously thought Bruce Harreld’s experience in transitioning other large enterprises through change, and his vision for reinvesting in the core mission of teaching and research, would ultimately provide the leadership needed. We are disappointed that some of those stakeholders have decided to embrace the status quo of the past over opportunities for the future and focus their efforts on resistance to change instead of working together to make the University of Iowa even greater."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 3:00am

Newly unsealed search warrants show that the Federal Bureau of Investigation looked into whether an engineering professor at Ohio State University who resigned suddenly had shared defense secrets with the Chinese, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

The newspaper reported that Ohio State launched an internal investigation after Rongxing Li, an expert on Mars mapping efforts, stated on a January 2014 grant proposal to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration that he had no relationships with Chinese scientists, despite having recently spent a sabbatical at Tongji University, in Shanghai. Li resigned from Ohio State the following month, having indicated that he was caring for sick parents in China, at which point the university contacted the FBI due to the “unusual circumstances of Li’s departure and the restricted and sensitive nature of some of his research.”

FBI investigators searched Li’s home and stopped and searched Li's wife in March 2014 before she boarded a plane to China, seizing a computer, cell phone and several thumb drives, the latter of which contained restricted defense-related information, according to the warrant. No charges have been filed against Li or his wife.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 4:24am

Students in North Carolina's Richmond and Scotland Counties now have an option for two free years at a community college, The News & Observer reported. Richmond Community College is offering two free years if students earned a 3.0 grade point average in high school and have passed two college courses through the college's dual enrollment program. The program is the first of its kind in North Carolina.


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