Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Monday, July 6, 2015 - 3:00am

Baylor University has dropped a reference to "homosexual acts" from a list in its sexual misconduct policy of barred activities, The Waco Tribune reported. The shift does not mean that gay people have acceptance at Baylor. Lori Fogelman, a spokeswoman, said that the university would continue to apply the policy in a way consistent with Baptist beliefs that define acceptable "sexual expression" as being between a married man and woman. Fogelman told the Tribune that "these changes were made because we didn’t believe the language reflected the university’s caring community."


Monday, July 6, 2015 - 3:00am

Webster University was found to owe the U.S. government $95,464 for federal aid violations involving its programs in the United Kingdom administered in partnership with Regent’s University London. An examination of the agreement between Webster and Regent’s led Education Department auditors to conclude that Regent’s, not Webster, was the entity that was primarily responsible for the delivery of the programs, and that Webster had therefore “permitted an ineligible institution [Regent’s] to improperly receive Title IV [Higher Education Act] program funds and provide a program to Title IV recipients.”

Webster, a private university based in St. Louis, was found to owe $87,869 in improperly disbursed Pell Grants, plus another $1,024 in interest and an additional $6,571 to account for projected defaults on direct loans that were awarded to students in the ineligible programs.

A Department of Education spokesman said that Webster had paid the full amount and had not appealed. “Webster has met all commitments to the Department of Education,” Webster said in a statement. Webster, which has campuses in seven countries, including a campus in Thailand that has a host of problems, is ending its partnership with Regent’s.

“As the [department's] report clearly concludes, this issue was exclusive to degree-seeking students enrolled full-time in programs offered at Regent’s University campus,” the university's statement said. “Webster looks forward to identifying new campus partners in the U.K. that will allow us to continue our presence there.”

Monday, July 6, 2015 - 3:00am

The social sciences department at the University of Buenos Aires is being criticized for hosting a live sex performance with actors, the Associated Press reported. The event was promoted as a "post-porn" work of performance art. Rector Alberto Barbieri said that the university is investigating. He said he was particularly concerned about the event taking place in a public space where minors could attend.

Monday, July 6, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Michael Howell, a neurologist at the University of Minnesota, discusses the importance of sleep training. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 4:26am

The Chicago Tribune had to sue to get records of the expenses of Robert Breuder, who is currently on leave as president of the College of DuPage, a community college outside Chicago. The documents that were released show considerable spending that theoretically was about building relationships with donors, but frequently didn't involve donors so much as senior administrators, trustees and vendors.

For example, for one outing to a private fish and game reserve with three others, including the college lawyer and a vendor, Breuder spent $1,292 in college foundation funds -- on two bottles of red wine purchased in advance, a lunch, gun rental and ammunition. Thirty pheasants were shot. Other uses of foundation funds include $1,450 for four days of dining in California wine country, and $683 for a "unique" wine pairings event at a liquor store.

Foundation officials have defended spending as necessary to build relationships and cultivate donors. Breuder was unavailable for comment.



Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 3:00am

Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, two candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, shared thoughts on higher education in the past two days.

Bloomberg described a recent event where Bush was asked about the problem of student debt. Bush said that part of the problem was created by students taking too long to graduate. On campus these days, he said, students have "the French work week. It’s not the kids’ fault." He said that administrators were to blame for considering 12 credits a full course load.

BuzzFeed News interviewed Cruz about, among other things, affirmative action, which the senator opposes. He said that colleges should focus on academic merit and not race, and he said that leading universities are today enforcing "negative quotas" against Asian applicants much the way they once did for Jewish applicants. “We see it now with colleges in California … negative quotas against Asian students because academically they’re excelling," he said.

Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 3:00am

Community Care College, a small institution located in Tulsa, Okla., that offers certificates and associate degrees in health care and business education, shifted to nonprofit from for-profit status on Wednesday, the Tulsa World reported.

The college is now called Community HigherEd. Its founder, Teresa Knox, told the newspaper that she wants the college to continue being evaluated on student outcomes, graduation rates, job placement rates and student loan default rates. The so-called gainful employment regulations, which do just that, and apply primarily to for-profits, took effect the day Community Care College made the switch.

“‘For-profit is periphery to our primary mission and purpose and minimizes our long-term goal,” Knox said in a written statement. “Our strategy is to increase the number and amount of scholarships offered to students in order to reduce student loan debt and expand educational and career opportunities to those that need it most."

Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 3:00am

A committee of Oregon's Legislature on Monday advanced a bill that would fund a tuition waiver for community college students, the Statesman Journal of Salem reported. The bill, which the State Senate is now considering, would provide a grant to qualifying students that would fill in the tuition gap that is not covered by other state and federal aid, as well as a $50 tuition term fee students would pay. The state also would cap the annual amount it would spend on the benefit at $10 million, which lawmakers conceded likely would not cover tuition for all students who would qualify (maintaining a 2.5 GPA is a requirement).

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., also are considering a tuition-free community college proposal. Last month the City Council held a hearing on a bill that would create a scholarship to cover tuition and fees for qualifying students who attend the District of Columbia Community College, reported the Community College Daily, a news service of the American Association of Community Colleges.

Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 3:00am

Emmanuel Christian Seminary on Wednesday merged into Milligan College, a Christian institution located across a highway from its campus. Milligan has 1,200 students and the seminary has 162. Officials said that the college worked with the seminary on financial issues over the last few years, prior to the merger.


Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 3:00am

The National Coalition Against Censorship has written to officials of Crafton Hills College, in California, raising questions about an apparently mandatory trigger warning placed on the syllabus of a course on graphic novels. A student in the course this year, along with her parents, protested that she considered some of the novels (many of them award-winning and taught as literature on many campuses) were obscene. The college declined the student's request to stop teaching the books, but said it would add a warning to the syllabus. The coalition's letter says: "We strongly urge the college not to set a dangerous precedent by adopting a general warning or disclaimer for this or any other course, but to leave the question of students’ sensitivities and preferences to be addressed on a case by case basis in discussions between individual students and faculty."

The college did not respond to requests for comment, but previously issued a statement defending its approach to the controversy.




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