Higher Education Quick Takes
The U.S. Department of Education has recommended a renewal of recognition for the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, a controversial regional accreditor of two-year colleges in California and other Western states. The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, a federal panel, is slated to review ACCJC's recognition and scope at a meeting next week.
The department had given the accreditor a year to fix several problems, including concerns about the consistency of its decision making, acceptance of its policies by academics and others, and its adherence to due process in the accreditation process. During its last review of the agency, the department also denied ACCJC's request to expand its scope to overseeing new four-year degree programs at California community colleges.
Much of the criticism around ACCJC had stemmed from the agency's longstanding feud over sanctions it imposed on City College of San Francisco. But last month the accreditor renewed City College's accreditation for seven years.
California's two-year college system has been working on a recommendation made by a state task force last year to either replace the accreditor or restructure it. And in a move some insiders see as evidence that the accreditor will be changed rather than replaced, Barbara Beno, ACCJC's controversial president, in December was placed on leave prior to her scheduled retirement.
The newly released department report, which NACIQI is to consider in making its call next week, said ACCJC largely had fixed the identified problems. It recommended extending the accreditor's recognition by 18 months and lifting the limitation on its ability to oversee four-year degree programs. For example, on due process, the report said the accreditor had "revised its commission action letters to reflect a clear delineation between areas of noncompliance and areas for improvement."
The department said it received more than 120 written comments on ACCJC's review. The majority of commenters are "associated with or in support of City College of San Francisco, such as students, faculty, San Franciscans and politicians," the department said. However, many of those comments were unrelated to ACCJC's current review or were redundant, according to the department.
(Note: This article has been changed from a previous version to clarify the relationship between the department and NACIQI.)
The University of Akron is seeking legislative approval to sell its presidential home -- the same home that the former president spent $1 million renovating, Cleveland.com reported. Spending on the home -- while many university departments were facing budget cuts -- contributed to the unpopularity of Scott Scarborough, who resigned last year and moved out. The new president, Matthew Wilson, has opted to live in his own home.
While presidential home renovations are sometimes controversial, the Akron home's expenses drew widespread ridicule. They included $1,742 for a headboard, $2,693 for two night tables and $1,844 for a mirror. But attracting the most attention was $556.40 for a decorative olive jar (without olives). Olives became a theme of campus protests, such as a faux food bank to collect olives for the president. An Akron spokesman told Cleveland.com that he expected the home's contents, including the olive jar, would be sold as part of any process that receives legislative approval.
Sara Ray Stoelinga (right), who was named in November to be the next president of Carroll University, in Wisconsin, announced Wednesday that she had changed her mind and would not take the job, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The university is now restarting the search, months before its current president is due to retire. Stoelinga is director of the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago. In a letter to the university's board, she apologized for "any disruption that my decision may cause." She said her decision "in no way reflects negatively" on Carroll and came after "deep reflection and deliberation."
The Rutgers University Business School has apologized after a number of students were turned away from its annual career fair last week due to a newly instituted dress code for the event.
The policy (at right) -- established by the Rutgers Office of Career Management, which hosts the career fair -- requires that students attending the event wear either dark gray or black professional attire.
On the webpage for the job fair, it says professional business attire is mandatory and that “students who do not adhere to our guidelines will be turned away at the door. No exceptions!”
University personnel strictly enforced the policy at the event, which was held Friday, Feb. 10, in New Brunswick, N.J. Students wearing brown, navy and lighter shades of gray were barred from entering the event, according to The Daily Targum, Rutgers’s student newspaper.
For some students, even those dressed in navy suits or wearing brown dress shoes, this meant missing out on an opportunity for networking, internships and jobs.
Lei Lei, dean of the Rutgers Business School in Newark and New Brunswick, said in a statement that the deans of the business school met Tuesday to discuss what happened. Afterward, they reached out to the students who were affected by the dress code policy and offered to connect them with recruiters from the career fair.
In the statement, Lei also said the university is reviewing the dress code with plans to revise it so something like this doesn’t happen again.
“We regret that the actions at last week’s career fair adversely affected some of our students and cast a shadow over the success we have achieved in helping our students secure meaningful internships and jobs,” she wrote in the statement. “Our career management process is not perfect, and we look forward to working with our recruiters and students to further improve our practices, including the dress code guidelines.”
VitalSource, which provides digital content delivery products and services, on Wednesday said it intends to acquire Verba, a San Francisco-based start-up. Verba, which was founded in 2008 by a group of Harvard University students, works with campus bookstores on textbook acquisition and delivery. Ingram Content Group, which owns VitalSource, said in a press release that it will add Verba's products to its own offerings.
Protests disrupted a speech at Harvard University Wednesday night by Martin Shkreli, a former pharmaceuticals executive currently awaiting trial for charges of securities fraud and widely criticized for pushing for higher drug prices, The Boston Globe reported. An unknown person pulled a fire alarm just before the talk was to have started, forcing the building to be evacuated. When the talk took place, Shkreli was interrupted several times by protesting students, while outside others chanted, "People, not profits." One student interrupted the talk to call Shkreli a racist, to which he responded, "How am I racist? I am friends with Lil Wayne."
Dayton Cramer (right), deputy general counsel at Florida State University, was arrested Tuesday and charged with soliciting a minor for sex, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. A Florida State spokesman said Cramer then resigned just before he would have been fired. Cramer's lawyer said he denies the allegations against him. Authorities said Cramer responded to a Craigslist ad that was part of a sting and he was arrested after showing up to meet someone he believed would be a 13-year-old girl.
John Thrasher, president of Florida State, released a statement saying that "these allegations against our former deputy general counsel are shocking and appalling …. The university immediately placed him on administrative leave. Later in the day, when we received the criminal complaint, we initiated steps toward terminating his employment. However, he resigned before being terminated. We are cooperating fully with law enforcement."
Faculty members, students and parents have launched over 130,000 fund-raising campaigns, collected donations from over 850,000 people and raised more than $60 million on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe since 2014. The company, which said crowdfunding for college-related expenses is on the raise, released a guidebook Wednesday for others considering creating a fund-raiser on their own. The guidebook contains advice such as "share your accomplishments," "post frequent updates" and "show your appreciation."
The University of Southern California announced Wednesday that it is about to meet the target of its $6 billion fund-raising campaign, 18 months ahead of schedule. The university is extending its campaign far beyond that and now says it will continue it until the end of 2021. While USC has not set a new target, it has been raising more than $900 million a year in the campaign.
USC could give Harvard University some competition for the largest fund-raising campaign. In September, Harvard announced that it had raised more than $7 billion in its record-setting fund-raising campaign. But that campaign will continue until its scheduled end in June 2018.