Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 10, 2009

Rutgers University had to house hundreds of students temporarily in local hotels last year because of campus overcrowding. This year, about 500 students will call a nearby Crowne Plaza home for the entire academic year, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, as enrollments and retention increase. Rutgers is one of many public universities seeing booms in enrollments, driven both by the economy and heightened price sensitivity by students and families.

August 7, 2009

Providence College is going to the Rhode Island Supreme Court to appeal an order that the college turn over documents related to the 2002 death of 19-year-old student who slipped off of a dormitory rooftop, The Providence Journal reported. A judge had ordered release of the documents as part of a wrongful death suit by the student's father. But the college's appeal says that to do so would create problems in much corporate litigation and would endanger principles of lawyer-client privilege.

August 7, 2009

Harvard University has licensed its name for use by a designer clothing company that will soon be selling a "Harvard Yard" line, Bloomberg reported. While financial terms were not revealed, the clothing line may relate more to the university's desire to replenish its endowment. While Harvard has made a point in recent years of stressing that it is open to students of all economic means, the same may not be said of the clothing. Trousers will start at $195 and shirts at $160, and the look will be preppy.

August 7, 2009

The U.S. Education Department on Thursday proposed new regulations to carry out changes that Congress made last year to federal law governing higher education accreditation. Among other things, the proposed rules, which resulted from negotiations last spring between federal officials and college and accrediting agency officials, would: expand due process protections for institutions when they are reviewed by accreditors; require the disclosure of more information by accreditors and colleges; require agencies to require college to submit "teach out" plans when they close campuses; and require accrediting agencies to ensure that colleges publish their transfer of credit policies.

August 7, 2009

The board of Wheeling Jesuit University has fired the West Virginia college's president, the Rev. Julio Giulietti, just two years after he was named to the post, The Wheeling News-Register reported. While details were not available, Father Guilietti told the newspaper he would sue. He said: "I was surprised that the board president pushed for a vote on this before my evaluation was half completed. That was an insult to the rest of the board and the university." The dispute follows a critical audit by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the university's grant agreements with NASA.

August 7, 2009

Los Angeles City College, facing deep budget cuts, is suspending six of its seven athletics teams, the Los Angeles Times reported. Women's volleyball will continue because the season is about to start.

August 6, 2009

One focus of the investigation into the University of Illinois admissions scandal has been the way the Urbana-Champaign chancellor and others pressured the law school to admit politically connected applicants who wouldn't have stood much of a chance without that help. Now the state panel conducting a probe of the scandal is examining a letter by Heidi Hurd and an apparently contradictory voicemail message by Hurd, a law professor who was dean at the time, the Chicago Tribune reported. In the letter to the panel, Hurd calls the law school a "victim" in the situation, and describes her efforts to minimize the damage. She also criticizes Richard Herman, the chancellor, who relayed the requests for admissions help. But the Tribune reported that she also left a voicemail on Herman's home phone -- turned over by the university to the state panel -- in which she calls Herman a "knight in shining armor" and says she is his "most ardent admirer." She adds in the message: "I just know someday ... when we are kicking around in heaven, we will be able to drink and laugh about this the whole time.... But to the extent that I have played a role in a scenario that should not have unfolded for you, I am beyond, beyond belief sorry." Hurd's lawyer issued a statement Wednesday saying that she wanted to thank Herman for his help in advancing the law school, and that they disagreed about the admissions requests from "selfish, meddling politicos." The lawyer added: "The humanity she displayed in a private moment should be respected and applauded, not criticized."

August 6, 2009

The University of California -- in intense budget-cutting mode because of the state's fiscal mess -- is about to lend the state nearly $200 million. But as The San Francisco Chronicle reported, the loans aren't charity, but an attempt to get university building projects moving again. The state has been unable to support the university through bond measures for many key buildings, but the loan -- being repaid with interest -- will allow the university to move ahead with otherwise blocked projects.

August 6, 2009

A second black faculty member at Harvard University has come forward to detail what he calls racial bias that led to his arrest by the Cambridge police outside his home, The Boston Globe reported. In this case of assault and battery charges, the professor -- S. Allen Counter of the medical school -- was acquitted. Counter said he hasn't previously gone public with the story out of fear that the police would harass him. His statement follows the national debate over the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., a Harvard professor who is a leading figure in African-American studies, outside his home (and the subsequent dropping of charges). Cambridge police did not comment to the Globe on the Counter statements.

August 6, 2009

A new tool -- the Educational Needs Index -- has been unveiled to help educators, politicians, and others measure the status of educational attainment and needs by geographic area. The project is based on U.S. Census Department data and backed by the Lumina Foundation for Education. State and local data focus on measures of:

  • Educational attainment, measured by the percentage of the population with high school and college degrees.
  • Economic capacity, measured by the percentage of the population in poverty, unemployment rates, the existing earnings capacity of residents and dependence on manufacturing and extraction jobs.
  • Population dynamics, including demographics based on the population aged 19 and younger, and the relative size of an area’s minority populations (African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans), who historically have been offered fewer educational and economic opportunities, and younger citizens who likewise face educational and training needs.

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