Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 12, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Kirsten Read, assistant professor of psychology at Santa Clara University, explains why rhymes help preschool children along faster on the path to reading. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

November 9, 2018

Many students at Davidson College have been alarmed by the release by an activist group of racist and anti-Semitic social media posts that the group linked to students at the college, The Charlotte Observer reported. The posts praised Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan. Davidson officials condemned the posts, and said that the students "are not on campus."


November 9, 2018

Laureate Education is considering a possible transaction involving its Walden University, according to a corporate filing the global higher education company released Thursday.

"We have had exploratory conversations with third parties regarding possible alternative transactions involving Walden," Laureate said.

The Baltimore-based Laureate in recent years has sold off colleges in the U.S. and other countries to focus on large and emerging markets. In the filing, the publicly traded company said it was simplifying by creating two "scaled" operations: a campus-based one in Latin America and a fully online institution in the U.S. Laureate currently enrolls over one million students at 60 institutions.

Walden is an online institution based in Minneapolis that focuses heavily on graduate programs. It enrolls roughly 50,000 students, according to federal data.

Laureate's vague language about alternative transactions could suggest interest in a possible acquisition by another university. Purdue University charted new territory last year with its deal to acquire the for-profit Kaplan University. The resulting Purdue University Global has begun operating under a 30-year contract with Kaplan Inc., which runs much of the nonacademic side of the university.

However, Laureate said Thursday that a Walden transaction is not a sure thing, and that the company might opt to retain the university.

November 9, 2018

A panel of three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court ruling blocking the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era program that provides protection against deportation and work authorization to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, including many college students. The Trump administration had moved to end DACA, arguing that the program is unlawful and that its establishment represented an unconstitutional attempt on the part of Obama to circumvent immigration laws passed by Congress.

Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote in the court's opinion that the administration acted to rescind DACA based on the “erroneous view” that it was illegal. Wardlaw wrote that deferred action -- defined as "a revocable decision by the government not to deport an otherwise removable person from the country" -- has been an established feature of the U.S. immigration system for decades and that "DACA was a permissible exercise of executive discretion."

“To be clear: we do not hold that DACA could not be rescinded as an exercise of Executive Branch discretion. We hold only that here, where the Executive did not make a discretionary choice to end DACA -- but rather acted based on an erroneous view of what the law required -- the rescission was arbitrary and capricious under settled law,” wrote Wardlaw, a Clinton appointee.

The case was brought by the University of California, which issued a statement. “Today’s decision is yet another strong message from our nation’s courts that the government’s attempt to rescind DACA was unlawful. The government’s only justification for rescinding DACA -- that the program itself is legally flawed -- is unfounded. Now that the appellate court has definitively rejected this argument, the university calls on the administration to stop its efforts to rescind the program.”

The battle may soon be headed to the Supreme Court. The Trump administration had already asked the Supreme Court to take up the case and two others challenging the decision to end DACA even before the Ninth Circuit ruled.

November 9, 2018

The University of Maryland at College Park has fired two athletic trainers who were largely blamed for the June death of football player Jordan McNair.

Steve Nordwall, assistant athletic director of athletic training, and Wes Robinson, the head trainer for the football program, were placed on leave in August following McNair’s death and explosive reports of abusive culture in the flagship institution’s football program.

A pair of investigations, taken over by the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents, largely confirmed the abuse and that athletics staffers had failed to treat McNair properly after he collapsed from heatstroke in May.

The revelations launched a public drama between the regents and the College Park administration. President Wallace D. Loh announced his retirement for June next year after it was reported the regents wanted to keep head football coach DJ Durkin and Loh disagreed. The regents reportedly threatened to fire Loh instead. But one day after announcing Durkin would remain at the university, Loh defied the regents and fired him.

Regent chairman James T. Brady also stepped down. The system announced his replacement on Wednesday, current regent Linda R. Gooden, who conceded in a statement that the board’s personnel recommendations were wrong and apologized to the McNair family and the College Park campus.

“In its quest to keep an open mind about the facts presented in the two recent reports on the tragic death of Jordan McNair and the University of Maryland, College Park football program, and subsequent interviews with those involved, the board -- in the minds of many -- lost sight of its responsibility to the university system,” Gooden said in her statement.

Nordwall and Robinson’s firings mean at least four officials have lost their jobs over the scandal, including Durkin and Rick Court, a strength and conditioning coach who negotiated a settlement with the university in August. Court, the regents’ investigation found, routinely used inappropriate language and homophobic slurs and on occasion threw weights, food and, once, a trash can full of vomit at athletes.

The regents’ investigation found that Nordwall did not report McNair’s symptoms to his supervisor until more than an hour after they first began. Robinson, meanwhile, pushed McNair during the practice in May, yelling to McNair’s teammates to “get him the fuck up” while he struggled and then “drag his ass off the field,” football players told investigators.

November 9, 2018

Tokyo Medical University has offered spots to 101 women who were discriminated against when they applied, The Washington Post reported. The women were rejected during a period in which the university lowered the scores of women on entrance exams to assure that a majority of new students each year would be men. The university has now disavowed that policy.

November 9, 2018

Complete College America announced Thursday that Yolanda Watson Spiva will be the nonprofit organization's new president.

Watson Spiva is a former educator and held management roles at the U.S. Department of Education. She most recently served as president and chief executive officer of College Success Foundation, a national nonprofit that provides support and scholarships to low-income students.

“Yolanda’s extensive leadership experience and her breadth of knowledge around postsecondary education, from readiness to access to success, give her a unique perspective on the work and mission of Complete College America,” Jim Geringer, chairman of the CCA Board of Directors and former governor of Wyoming, said in a news release. “Under her leadership, CCA and our Alliance teams will strengthen partnerships and broaden our positive impact on the field of higher education, while continuing to push toward greater innovation and more equitable outcomes for students.”

November 9, 2018

Harvard University on Thursday announced a $200 million gift from the Blavatnik Family Foundation. The funds will support research at the medical school.

Keep up with big gifts, campaigns and more with Inside Higher Ed's fund-raising databases.

November 9, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, part of Carleton College Week, Julia Strand, assistant professor of psychology, explains how seeing a talking face gives us clues even if we can’t fully hear what is being said. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

November 8, 2018

At least 12 people were shot and killed at a bar in Ventura County in Southern California Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Times reported. The bar was holding its weekly college night and was "packed with college students" as young as 18 at the time. Many others were injured, and the gunman has been killed. Witnesses told the Times that the gunman arrived, dressed in all black, threw one or more smoke bombs and started shooting. Identities of the victims are not yet available.

Pepperdine University, which is among the colleges near the bar, posted to Twitter that the university "has determined that multiple Pepperdine students were on site at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks. At this time, the university is working to identify and provide support to those students."

California Lutheran University, another nearby institution, also published a statement, in which it said it would cancel classes: "The Cal Lutheran community is grieving over what happened last night. We know some of our students were there. We are waiting for more information from law enforcement. We have canceled classes, but the campus is open and all offices will be open. Our chapel is open for anyone who wants to gather. Counseling, pastoral and Student Affairs staff are all available. We have brought in additional resources to support our community."


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