Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 5, 2009

Students and parents will be able to import their tax information directly from the IRS website to the online FAFSA in a pilot program beginning early next year, a representative of the Education Department's Federal Student Aid program revealed during Wednesday's negotiated rulemaking session on the verification of information on student aid applications. Stephanie Gross, team leader for FAFSA on the Web, said the department will offer the option for first-time and renewal applicants beginning January 24. By next summer, it will be open to all applicants from the start of the 2010-11 application process.

November 5, 2009

During October, 43 percent of the 274 colleges being tracked on H1N1 and related illnesses by the American College Health Association said that they had the H1N1 vaccine on hand. Meanwhile, 97 percent of the colleges reported new flu cases. Details on the association's study may be found here.

November 5, 2009

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has levied a weighty set of punishments against Miles College for major violations in all 10 of its sports. Wednesday, in a public report, the Division II Committee on Infractions said that “from the 2004-05 though 2008-09 academic years, Miles allowed 124 athletes in all 10 of its sports to practice, compete, receive travel expenses and/or receive athletically related aid while ineligible.” These students were ineligible for numerous reasons, but most did not meet the NCAA’s initial or continuing academic requirements to play. The committee discovered that Miles “did not have written procedures for certifying the eligibility of initial enrollees, continuing student-athletes and transfers.” During the investigation of this violation, the committee noted that the former director of athletics “provided false and misleading information to the NCAA enforcement staff.” In another violation, the committee reported that the former head track coach “knowingly allowed six student-athletes to participate under assumed names during the 2006-7 academic year.” Also, the committee found that the track coach at the time “worked with an administrator at another institution to fabricate results from two women’s outdoor track meets to make it appear that Miles College had enough participants to meet NCAA sport sponsorship minimums." As punishment, Miles will serve a four-year probation, all of its sports are banned from the postseason this year and all games during which ineligible athletes competed must be vacated. The former athletics director and track coach, whom the report did not identify by name but who could be identified through news reports as Augustus James and Marcus Dowdell, also have four- and three-year show-cause orders, respectively -- meaning any institution that hires them during that period must report to the NCAA how it will monitor their behavior.

November 5, 2009

The American Historical Association, which like some other scholarly association has struggled to recruit younger members, has announced a new membership category designed to attract them. "For years now, younger members of the association have chafed at the doubling of dues when they switch from student to regular member, and quite a few have indicated they had dropped their memberships as a result. To encourage sustained membership in the association, the new category will provide an incremental step on the path toward sustained membership — rising from the student rate of $39 to the transitional rate of $50 for the first three years after leaving the student membership category," said the announcement, on the association's blog.

November 5, 2009

Some students at the University of Alberta are angry that Indira Samarasekera, the president, has expressed concern about the declining numbers of men on Canadian university campuses. In an October interview, Samarasekera cited figures showing that women make up 58 percent of Canadian university students and said that she worried that 20 years from now, "we will not have the benefit of enough male talent at the heads of companies and elsewhere." Further, she said she would be an "advocate" for young white men because, as a minority woman, she "can be." The Edmonton Sun reported that her comments irked some students, who felt she was suggesting that female students were somehow a problem, and for not focusing on disadvantaged students -- as opposed to men -- who may need help. Some of the students created posters showing a giant, King Kong-like woman walking over a university building. The caption: "Women are attacking campus! Only white men can save our university! Stop the femimenace."

November 4, 2009

Amherst College said Tuesday that it had received separate, unrestricted donations valued at $100 million and $25 million -- its largest gifts ever -- from alumni who wished to remain anonymous. Both donors said they wanted to help Amherst remain both highly selective and accessible to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, said Anthony W. Marx, president of the Massachusetts liberal arts college. “I make this gift in recognition of the unique education I received at Amherst, and as an expression of support of Amherst College’s mission," the $100 million donor said in a news release from the college. "I hope other alumni will be inspired to further support the college, at a time when the economy is stressing the resources of all higher educational institutions. Amherst is a jewel of enlightenment, social mobility based on talent, and preparation for leadership that we must all maintain.”

November 4, 2009

Years after Mississippi pledged to create a $35 million private endowment to support the state's three historically black colleges, only $1 million has been raised and there are no active efforts to add to the fund, The Jackson Clarion Ledger reported. While some advocates for black colleges hope to pressure the state to create the fund, others say it seems clear the endowment will never materialize.

November 4, 2009

Colleges and universities were among the entities that allegedly miscalculated how many jobs had been saved on their campuses through the use of federal stimulus funds, leading to overcounting of the national numbers, The Wall Street Journal reported. The White House said in recent days that funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act had saved a total of 640,000 jobs so far, including 325,000 in education. But the Journal finds that some organizations misunderstood the forms or exaggerated the number of jobs that had been saved. Stetson University, for example, counted every part-time student who received work study funds, greatly boosting its count, the Journal said.

November 4, 2009

British government leaders have called on universities to be more inclusive in whom they admit, with less of a focus on grades or test scores in cases where applicants may have potential, The Guardian reported. Peter Mandelson, the business minister, who also has responsibility for universities, said: "What we are saying is that nobody should be disadvantaged or penalised on the basis of the families they come from, of school they attended and the way in which simple assessment based on A-level results might exclude them." While the government can't order changes in admissions policies, its pressure could be significant.

November 4, 2009

The American Association of Community Colleges announced Tuesday that George R. Boggs would retire in December 2010 after a decade as its president. Boggs, who spent 30 years as an administrator at two-year institutions in California before taking over at AACC in 2001, has led the association at a time of great progress for community colleges. Two-year college officials have praised him as a thoughtful and pragmatic leader.

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