Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, February 5, 2016 - 3:00am

Stanford University announced Thursday that its next president will be Marc Tessier-Lavigne, a neuroscientist who is currently president of Rockefeller University. He will succeed John L. Hennessy, who announced in June 2015 that he would step down after 16 years as president. Previously, Tessier-Lavigne was a professor of biological sciences at Stanford and at the University of California at San Francisco. A biography may be found here.

Friday, February 5, 2016 - 3:00am

Officials at Marinello Schools of Beauty announced Thursday that they are shutting down campus operations. This decision follows the U.S. Department of Education's announcement Monday that the institution lost the ability to participate in the federal student aid program.

“Despite Marinello Schools of Beauty's long history of compliance with regulatory requirements, the Department of Education has delayed funding to our students for over two months without specifying allegations of wrongdoing or even allowing us to respond. Repeated attempts to get the most basic information from the Department of Education about their potential concerns were rebuffed. We repeatedly informed the department that its actions could lead to the closure of the schools and it refused to provide any information about its concerns. This complete lack of due process has caused Marinello irreparable harm,” said Joe Hixson, a spokesman for the institution, in an email.

The department's investigation into Marinello alleged that the for-profit knowingly requested federal aid for students based on fabricated high school diplomas, while also “underawarding financial aid to students and charging students for excessive overtime.” The department gave Marinello until Feb. 16 to dispute the findings of their investigation, but also notified Marinello that its participation in federal aid programs would end Feb. 29.

“Without providing Marinello any time to refute or defend these untrue accusations, the department chose to cut off funding to our students at 23 schools, none of which has ever been found to have any curriculum or instructional deficiencies by our nationally recognized accreditors or the states in which they operate. We intend to appeal this decision and believe we have done nothing wrong and will defend ourselves vigorously. We object strongly to the lack of due process the department has afforded, which in turn has put our operations at risk. If the department is convinced of its position then it should have provided us with due process to contest its findings,” Hixson said.

In a news release from the for-profit, Marinello officials said they would work on transfer options for the approximately 4,300 students affected by the closure. Marinello campuses in California, Nevada and Utah will close today, while campuses in Kansas and Connecticut will close Friday.

A letter to students about their options was also posted to the institution's website.

(Update: A statement on our editorial independence may be found here. Quad Partners, which is an owner of Inside Higher Ed, owns 3.6 percent of a holding company that owns Marinello.)

Friday, February 5, 2016 - 4:20am

Chicago State University on Thursday declared that it was in a state of financial exigency due to the state failing to adopt a budget and provide funds, The Chicago Tribune reported. All public colleges and universities in the state have been voicing concerns about the impact of the state's inaction, but Chicago State has been warning that it may run out of money by next month. A state of financial exigency, under guidelines of the American Association of University Professors, means that a college's financial condition is so dire as to justify speedier elimination of faculty jobs, including tenured faculty jobs.

Friday, February 5, 2016 - 3:00am

The U.S. Department of Education this week introduced several new requirements for accreditors, adding to the slightly beefed-up new rules it announced in November. The department has pushed more aggressive reforms to the accreditation process, including a request for the U.S. Congress to drop its ban on imposing specific standards on accreditors. But those ideas are unlikely to come to fruition during the Obama administration's final year.

This week the department said it would require accreditors to provide more information to the feds -- and to the public, when possible -- about sanctions the agencies slap on colleges, including the reason for those sanctions. The department also will require accreditors to separate their reporting of punitive actions against colleges from the other information they submit to the federal government, such as when colleges receive renewal of their accreditation status.

"Agencies need to do more than certify that institutions make quality offerings available; they must gauge the extent to which the institutions actually help more students achieve their goals," Ted Mitchell, the Under Secretary of Education, wrote in a blog post. "And because of our belief in the importance of equal opportunity to learn and achieve, that means strong outcomes for all students, not just some."

Other new requirements announced this week generally revolve around more coordination and basic communication. For example, accreditors will meet more regularly with the department and share information about "schools of concern."

Friday, February 5, 2016 - 3:00am

Earlham College canceled class Thursday in order to hold a series of meetings with students, faculty and staff about a list of diversity concerns distributed by a group of students earlier this week.

Students at the Quaker college marched across campus on Monday and presented the "list of requirements concerning students of color" to the college's president, David Dawson. "The administration at Earlham College has been made aware that a group of students have concerns about issues related to diversity on campus," Brian Zimmerman, the college's director of media relations, said in a statement.

The students' requirements for the college include that Earlham create a multicultural center that provides counseling and is staffed by people of color, that it more easily allow for exemptions from "expensive and mandatory housing and meal plans," and that it offer diversity training for all students, faculty and staff. Among other requirements, the students also demanded that at least 30 percent of the college's faculty, staff and administrators and 20 percent of the Board of Trustees be people of color by 2020.

"As it currently stands, this campus is unsuitable for students of color to thrive," the students wrote. "Earlham is failing to sustain the diversity that this college promises and, because of this, we cannot in good faith endorse Earlham as a place suitable for students who value diversity, fairness and equity."

Friday, February 5, 2016 - 3:00am

A senior Egyptian prosecutor said the body of a University of Cambridge student who disappeared in Cairo has been found with signs of torture, the BBC reported. Giulio Regeni, 28, was a Ph.D. student in the politics and international studies department at Cambridge and a visiting scholar at the American University in Cairo. His research was on trade unions and labor rights, a sensitive subject in Egypt.

Regeni, an Italian national, was last seen on the night of Jan. 25, when he left home to meet a friend in central Cairo. His body was found beside a road on Wednesday. The cause of death has not yet been determined; his body had bruises, knife wounds and cigarette burns.

Friday, February 5, 2016 - 3:00am

Roughly one in four of the 1.9 million high school students who graduated in 2015 and took the ACT are from low-income backgrounds, meaning their annual family incomes are less than $36,000. This group continues to lag in college readiness, according to the latest version of an annual report from the testing organization and the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships.

For example, half of the low-income students failed to meet any of the four ACT college readiness benchmarks, according to the report, compared to 31 percent of all students. And the proportion of students reaching each of the four benchmarks, which are in English, reading, mathematics and science, was roughly 40 percentage points lower for students from poorer families compared to those from families with annual incomes of $100,000 and up.

The readiness indicators of low-income students have remained largely unchanged for six consecutive years, ACT said, and have declined in some areas.

“Until these results improve, many students from poorer families are likely destined for a life of financial struggle and lapsed educational plans,” said Jim Larimore, ACT's chief officer for the advancement of underserved learners, in a written statement. “Beyond lamenting the well-known systemic challenges these students face, we are committed to acting on our knowledge, through research partnerships with organizations like NCCEP and our own initiatives, to expand access to rigorous course work and provide free resources to students in need.”

Friday, February 5, 2016 - 3:00am

Faculty members have voted no confidence in the leaders of City Colleges of Chicago and the University of Akron.

At City Colleges of Chicago, faculty leaders say Chancellor Cheryl Hyman makes decisions about important issues such as tuition, registration regulations and various other matters without consulting with the faculty, The Chicago Tribune reported. Many political and business leaders in Chicago back the chancellor.

At Akron, the Faculty Senate voted no confidence in President Scott L. Scarborough, citing numerous decisions he has made that they argue have hurt the university's academic and financial base, Ohio.com reported. Scarborough spoke early in the meeting where the vote took place but left before the vote.

Friday, February 5, 2016 - 3:00am

The University of Copenhagen announced that it is cutting more than 500 teaching, research, service and administrative jobs -- 7 percent of its total staff -- in response to government cuts to its budget. The university also said it would be reducing its Ph.D. student intake by 10 percent and is evaluating the financial viability of some of its medical science and small language programs.

Copenhagen announced last month that it would halt the intake of new students in 13 small language and area studies programs -- including Eskimology, Finnish and Turkish -- and close some of them (which ones to be determined) for good.

Friday, February 5, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Rhondda Thomas, associate professor of African-American literature at Clemson University, sheds light on the enslaved people who labored to build the institution. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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