Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, April 29, 2016 - 3:00am

Apollo Education Group shareholders will have more time to vote on a proposed change in ownership for the parent company of the University of Phoenix.

The vote, which was scheduled to take place today, has been delayed until May 6 to give shareholders more time to make their decision. The proposal would sell the company to a consortium of private investors for $1.1 billion.

Of the votes that have come in so far, "nearly 58 percent voted for the proposed transaction," according to an Apollo news release.

"We are gratified that the shareholders who voted in favor of the transaction recognized that this offer represents the best available outcome," said Greg Cappelli, chief executive officer of Apollo, in a statement.

In a letter to shareholders on Tuesday, the company recommended they vote in favor of the proposal. If they didn't, the company would explore other options, including selling Phoenix separately.

Friday, April 29, 2016 - 3:00am

North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest plans to propose legislation that would impose punishments on hecklers who shout down speakers on public campuses, according to the Associated Press.

The state’s legislative session began only yesterday, and Forest has yet to present his proposal officially, but the Associated Press says it will target "those who interrupt the free expression of others."

Hecklers interrupting or shouting down controversial speakers are common across the country. Earlier this month, protesters almost halted a speech by the mayor of Jerusalem at San Francisco State University, and Donald Trump is routinely interrupted by protesters at his campus rallies (and elsewhere). Though half a dozen or so states will be considering campus freedom of speech bills this year, North Carolina’s may be the first to target hecklers specifically.

Friday, April 29, 2016 - 3:00am

Three weeks after the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I Council voted to ban Football Bowl Subdivision coaches from hosting or participating in camps and clinics located away from their campuses, the Division I Board of Directors has reversed the new rule.

Historically, the NCAA said, “coaches used camps and clinics primarily to provide skill instruction to young people and generate revenue.” While official recruiting activities are not allowed at the camps, they are increasingly viewed as a recruiting tool. The Division I Council voted to ban the so-called satellite camps after the University of Michigan’s head football coach, Jim Harbaugh, rankled rival coaches and commissioners in other conferences by attending camps near their institutions last year.

The rule change was praised by officials in those leagues, in particular the Southeastern Conference, which already had a rule barring its own members from taking part in the camps. Critics, however, argued it was unfair to limit unrecruited athletes’ opportunities to be discovered by college coaches. Last week, USA Today reported that the U.S. Department of Justice was looking into whether the ban was legal.

“The Board of Directors is interested in a holistic review of the football recruiting environment, and camps are a piece of that puzzle,” Harris Pastides, president of the University of South Carolina and the board’s chair, said in a statement. “We share the council’s interest in improving the camp environment, and we support the council’s efforts to create a model that emphasizes the scholastic environment as an appropriate place for recruiting future student-athletes.”

Friday, April 29, 2016 - 3:00am

Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead, who has served in that position for 12 years, announced Thursday that he will step down on June 30, 2017. Duke's announcement noted many efforts to improve undergraduate education, research and Duke's global programs. Brodhead also was president during the Duke lacrosse scandal in 2006, in which the university faced criticism from all sides.

Friday, April 29, 2016 - 3:00am

Middle Tennessee State University has announced plans to change the name of Forrest Hall, which honors Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate military leader who went on, for a time, to be a leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Sidney A. McPhee, president of the university, said he was following the recommendation of a panel appointed to consider the name of Forrest Hall.

“It is clear that there are many wide-ranging and contradicting views about the life and legacy of Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest,” McPhee said in a letter about his decision. “I do not feel it is my role to discern the appropriateness or relevance of his actions prior, during or after the Civil War. It is appropriate, however, for me to assess whether the decision made in the middle of the 20th century to name the building for General Forrest remains in our best interest in the second decade of the 21st century.”

Friday, April 29, 2016 - 3:00am

China passed a law on Thursday subjecting foreign nongovernmental organizations to increased regulation and police supervision, according to Chinese and international media reports. The law, which requires foreign NGOs to register their activities with police and public security agencies, has attracted widespread concerns that it will further constrain the activities of civil society organizations in China and inhibit international cooperation in any number of areas, including science and academe.

The impact of the new law on foreign educational institutions remains unclear. An earlier draft of the law defined foreign NGOs broadly, leading many to worry that university exchanges of all kinds could potentially be affected. The Chinese state media outlet Xinhua reported Thursday that the new and final draft of the law specifies that “exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and overseas colleges, hospitals, and science and engineering research institutes will follow existing regulations” -- rather than the new NGO law -- but experts said that greater clarity is needed before the impact of the law is known. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2017.

Mark Sidel, the Doyle-Bascom Professor of Law and Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a consultant with the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, said via email that "the new law indicates that certain academic exchanges and cooperation will be regulated by existing rules, not by this new law. But that raises as many questions as it answers: What academic exchanges and cooperation would come under other existing rules, and what academic, scholarly and research programs in China would come within this new law? None of that is at all clear, and must await clarification from Chinese authorities."

"Until -- and likely after -- that clarification occurs, the road ahead for academic and research exchanges and cooperation with Chinese institutions remains anxious and clouded because of this new law, despite the general attempt to indicate that certain activities will be governed by other existing rules," Sidel said.

Friday, April 29, 2016 - 3:00am

Ripon College has dropped a requirement that all applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. The college says applicants can simply decide for themselves whether to submit scores.

Friday, April 29, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Lori Martin, associate professor in the departments of sociology and African and African-American Studies at Louisiana State University, discusses how racism has clouded the question of who the "all-time greats" are since the early days of major competitive sports. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, April 28, 2016 - 3:00am

A Chinese company has offered $12.6 million to purchase a University of Connecticut satellite campus with the aim of converting it into a private high school for international students, but the university “is hardly a disinterested seller,” The Boston Globe reported. The Globe reported that UConn’s Neag School of Education is in discussions to develop a teacher training program in cooperation with the company, Weiming Education Group, which last month spent $46,000 to bring seven university officials to China. UConn’s spokeswoman said that the sale of the property is separate from the Neag School’s negotiations.

The Globe reported that the proposed sale of the campus in West Hartford to Weiming is attracting growing concern in the community, as local officials have learned that a similar program the company runs in Michigan is under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for its handling of student visas.

Thursday, April 28, 2016 - 3:00am

The University of Washington has pulled an infographic that offered advice to potential cheerleaders, amid widespread criticism that it was sexist, The Seattle Times reported. Potential team members were advised, among other things, to favor “bronze, beachy glow, false lashes, girl about town lipstick, flattering eye shadow” but to avoid “too much makeup” or hair in a ponytail. Students also said that the ideals of beauty (and the photo) suggested that white people, not minority individuals, define beauty. A statement from the university's athletics department said that the infographic was pulled after officials “determined that some of the details and descriptions provided were inconsistent with the values of the UW spirit program and department of athletics.”

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