Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 28, 2017

David Wilder, 61, was killed by a shooting in Cleveland when he was caught in the crossfire as three other men engaged in what authorities called "a running vehicular gun battle," Cleveland.com reported. Wilder was a long-term adjunct at Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College and John Carroll University -- and he was a leader in efforts in Ohio and nationally to gain more rights for those who teach off the tenure track. His fellow adjuncts are noting his contributions to their cause -- and raising money to help cover his funeral expenses.

March 28, 2017

Ithaca College’s new non-tenure-track faculty union reached a tentative contract agreement with the institution this week, averting a threatened strike. Terms of the contract are generous compared to many other contingent faculty agreements. They include an established path to pay parity for part-time faculty members, with immediate raises, followed by annual raises totaling $1,025 per three-credit course for the life of the contract.

Other gains are more stability for full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members included in the new bargaining unit; they’ll be eligible for two-year appointments after three years of teaching at the college and three-year appointments after five years of service. Part-timers, too, will be eligible for two-year appointments after three on campus, and they’re guaranteed a $1,300 “kill fee” for any course canceled at the last minute. All unit members get earlier notice of appointments and the right to interview and be considered for full-time positions.

The unit affiliated with Service Employees International Union said in a news release that it “won on everything.” Nancy Pringle, college senior vice president; Linda Petrosino, provost; and Gwen Seaquist, professor of legal studies, said in a joint statement they are “confident that this new contract is fair, that it addresses the concerns of our valued faculty members and that it enables the college to maintain excellence in a fiscally responsive manner.”

March 28, 2017

Trevecca Nazarene University, in Nashville, Tenn., may merge with Eastern Nazarene University, outside Boston, The Tennessean reported. Under a deal reached last week, Trevecca's president, Dan Boone, will lead both institutions for three years while officials consider a possible merger that would maintain the campuses. The hope for a merger is that it would save money by combining some administrative functions. Trevecca enrolls about 3,000 students. Eastern Nazarene enrolls about 1,000 students.

March 28, 2017

Webster University has won its fifth consecutive President’s Cup Collegiate Chess tournament, an event in which the Final Four takes place around the same time many Americans are agonizing over their brackets and favorite teams in a tournament involving shooting a basketball. Webster was followed in the final rankings by Texas Tech University, Saint Louis University and the University of Texas at Dallas. International talent tends to play a key role in collegiate chess. One of the six team members who represented Webster in the final matches is American. The others are from Azerbaijan, India, Russia, Ukraine and Vietnam.

March 28, 2017

A new study links the drop in home prices during the Great Recession to the increase in student loan defaults over the same period. The study, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, also finds student loan defaults concentrated among individuals with low-income jobs, which were shed as housing prices dropped. Significantly for student loan policy, the study finds that the income-based repayment program introduced after the recession led to fewer student loan defaults and protected borrowers against adverse income shocks.

Eligible student loan borrowers who did not enroll in income-based repayment, however, continued to have high rates of default after 2009, the authors found.

The study's authors were Holger Mueller and Constantine Yannelis, both of New York University's Stern School of Business.

March 28, 2017

In a letter released Monday, the Senate and House education committees called on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to assist students affected by the continued outage of the IRS data retrieval tool.

The recommendations in the letter overlapped with requests made by college access groups earlier this month as the complications from the tool's shutdown became apparent. Lawmakers asked DeVos to provide more prominent notice to students and parents that the tool was unavailable, to consider accepting signed copies of tax returns for verification of income instead of tax transcripts, and to make sure the Federal Student Aid call center was able to handle increased call volume created by the outage. They also indicated that the department should encourage more states with upcoming aid deadlines to follow the lead of Texas and Indiana, which announced they would move back their priority aid deadlines.

The data retrieval tool was introduced to speed the financial aid process and avoid errors by allowing students to automatically import tax data on file with the government into their application for federal student aid. The tool was shut down by the IRS and the Department of Education this month with no warning to applicants or student advocates. Later, the agencies said the tool was taken down because of concerns over security.

March 28, 2017

Wofford College announced Monday that it will no longer require the SAT or ACT for admissions. Brand Stille, vice president for enrollment, said in a statement that "consistently, a student’s high school GPA has been the best predictor of academic success at Wofford. We are very confident we can continue to make sound admission decisions without standardized test scores."

March 28, 2017

Today on the Academic Minute, Kimberly Bigelow, associate professor in the bioengineering graduate program at the University of Dayton, explains why being active can help older adults live better and avoid falls. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

March 27, 2017

A federal judge in Virginia ruled in favor of President Trump’s travel ban in finding that the president’s past statements about banning the entry of Muslims do not disqualify him from exercising his broad powers on national security and immigration, The Washington Post reported. The decision, though a symbolic victory for the Trump administration, has no immediate practical effect, as federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland have both ruled to block enforcement of the order banning entry into the U.S. for nationals of six Muslim-majority countries. The judges in Hawaii and Maryland both ruled that the plaintiffs proved they were likely to prevail on their claims that the entry ban violates the constitutional prohibition on the official favoring or disfavoring of any religion.

March 27, 2017

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has accrued nearly $18 million in legal costs stemming from the decades-long scandal involving fake classes that appeared to benefit athletes disproportionately, The News & Observer reported.

The $17.6 million spent to date has gone toward an NCAA investigation, lawsuits filed by former athletes against the university, several law firms representing the institution, public relations costs to manage the scandal and the review, redaction and release of public records to news organizations. UNC has produced at least 1.7 million records related to the investigation.

UNC will not be paying off those legal costs with tuition dollars or state funds, officials told The News & Observer, and it’s very likely the university will be billed for additional legal fees in the coming months, as some of the lawsuits are ongoing.

The scandal in question spanned about 18 years and involved over 3,000 students -- half of them athletes. Some UNC employees were pushing students to take “paper classes” that were not taught by university faculty members and did not meet in person. In these courses, students received high marks on the single required assignment regardless of accuracy or quality.

It is widely considered one of the most far-reaching cases of academic fraud in higher education history.


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