Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 14, 2018

The White House said Wednesday that Ivanka Trump, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, plans to meet with Senate lawmakers this week to push for a reauthorization of the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

The House passed a Perkins reauthorization bill last year, but negotiations over Senate legislation have been stalled for months over philosophical differences between Republican and Democratic negotiators.

The Trump administration has identified work-force training as a major priority, and Ivanka Trump will press senators on the urgency of reauthorizing the Perkins law, said Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley in a statement.

“The important legislation benefits more than 11 million Americans across the country and is integral to the administration’s working families and work-force development agenda," Gidley said. "Thanks to the robust economic environment and historically low unemployment rates, there is a record number of unfilled jobs and we are committed to ensuring current and future American workers have access to the high-quality vocational education needed to secure family-sustaining careers and thrive in the modern economy.”

Senator Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate education committee, plans to hold a committee vote on Perkins reauthorization on June 20 -- whether or not there is a bipartisan agreement in place.

In a statement, Senator Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said there is broad bipartisan support to get a deal done.

"I am ready to get this done, and I know there are a whole lot of Democrats, Republicans and business groups who join me in hoping that we can do this in a bipartisan way," Murray said.

 

June 14, 2018

The University of Iowa responded Tuesday to hundreds of allegations on social media that Nick Caracci Jr., a student at the university, sexually harassed women online and in person, the Iowa City Press Citizen reported.

A tweet posted Sunday asked users to retweet or respond if they had also been harassed by Caracci. The tweet has garnered 1,200 retweets and 220 responses, many of which include screenshots of unwanted messages from Caracci. The University of Iowa stressed that while it takes the allegations seriously, social media posts do not classify as an official report and the university can only take limited action.

The University of Iowa has received two formal reports of online harassment by Caracci from the same woman, the first filed in December and another in April, detailing that Caracci stalked her and she worried that he would harm her. It is unknown whether any incidents have been reported to Iowa City police.

June 14, 2018

Thomas Brock was announced Wednesday as the next director of the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Brock is succeeding Tom Bailey, who founded CCRC and was named the next president of Teachers College.

Brock will take over as CCRC director in September. He is stepping down at the end of June as commissioner of the National Center for Education Research at the U.S. Department of Education and as director of the Institute of Education Sciences. Prior to joining IES, Brock was also the postsecondary policy area director at MDRC, a social policy research organization.

"I wanted to join CCRC first and foremost because I am drawn to its mission," Brock said in a news release. "Community colleges are a uniquely American institution -- offering virtually unfettered access to higher education to millions of students -- but are often beset by inadequate funding, low completion rates and other challenges. CCRC provides an objective analysis of community colleges' performance, examines the factors that impede their success and generates ideas and evidence for how they can improve."

June 14, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Lisa Wisniewski, assistant professor of sociology at Goodwin College, discusses the challenges foreign-born students can face at academic institutions. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

June 13, 2018

Three poetry editors at the Boston Review resigned in protest of the publication’s decision to continue its relationship with author Junot Diaz, in light of the allegations of sexual misconduct against him, the Associated Press reported. The editors, Timothy Donnelly, Barbara Fischer and Stefania Heim, announced their resignation, effective July 1, on Twitter. Donnelly said via email that it was it was “painful to leave but we couldn’t possibly stay.” He referenced the recent announcement in support of Diaz by Deborah Chasman and Joshua Cohen, editors-in-chief, saying it “was deeply at odds” with the poetry editors’ positions and their work. Chasman and Cohen in the announcement said that the accusations against Diaz, which include unwanted kissing and bullying behavior towards female authors, are not of the “severity that animated the Me Too movement,” either individually or in the aggregate.

“We had to make a practical decision about a relationship with an editor,” Chasman and Cohen told the Associated Press in an email. “We think we made the right decision and stand fully by the reasons we presented in support of it.” VIDA: Women in Literary Arts last week condemned the Boston Review for its stance on Diaz. Feminist academics remain divided in their support.

 
June 13, 2018

William Paterson University is reviewing allegations that a professor of sociology taught conspiracy theories, according to northjersey.com. The professor, Clyde Magarelli, allegedly said during a course on social problems last semester that Nazi secret police only engaged in torture during the “last part” of World War II, that Irish people were the first slaves in the U.S. and that the moon landing was faked because it is impossible to wave a flag there. A student recorded some of Magarelli’s comments and shared them on Twitter. Magarelli did not respond to a request for comment. "A review of this matter is underway to determine what action may be warranted," Mary Beth Zeman, university spokesperson, said via email.

June 13, 2018

The University of Oxford is being mocked for an email in which administrators suggested that the "highly developed social conscience" of students draws homeless people to the city of Oxford, the BBC reported.

Two administrators wrote to students to dissuade them from participating in a tradition known as “trashing,” where they cover one another with champagne, confetti, eggs and foam.

The email from a senior and junior proctor said, “Oxford's students have a highly developed social conscience, as is evident from the number of homeless people who come to seek assistance in this city.”

"Needless waste of food is an aggravation of their distress."

The email also said that trashing is "unlikely to have a positive effect on applications from underprivileged minorities."

Those criticizing the message said its tone is problematic, and that it's disingenuous to suggest that the city’s rate of homelessness is connected to the generosity or social consciousness of students. In a statement the university said the intention of the proctors "was to appeal to the social and environmental consciences of Oxford students, urging them to consider the impact of the waste and inconvenience caused by trashing."

June 13, 2018

The University of St. Thomas in Houston is standing by its decision not to alert the campus about the reported sexual assault of a young woman by a university officer, according to Eyewitness News. The officer was fired Friday and the Houston Police Department has taken over the sexual assault investigation.

The woman reported that the officer engaged in nonconsensual, sexually related acts after driving her home from a police stop. The incident occurred several miles away from the St. Thomas campus.

St. Thomas insists that because the incident occurred off-campus and did not involve a student, the Clery Act, which requires universities that receive federal student aid report crime incidents that happen on or near campus, did not apply and that no warning was necessary because the officer was quickly terminated.

June 13, 2018

The operators of a debt-relief scam have agreed to pay $2.3 million to settle Federal Trade Commission claims that they bilked student loan borrowers out of millions of dollars by pretending to be affiliated with the U.S. Education Department. In an announcement Monday, the FTC said a settlement order approved by a federal judge included an $11.7 million monetary judgment against the Los Angeles-based Student Debt Relief Group, most of which the defendants do not have the funds to pay.

According to the FTC, the defendants "tricked consumers into believing they were affiliated with the Department of Education, deceived consumers into paying up to $1,000 in illegal upfront fees to enter them into free government programs, and charged consumers monthly fees they claimed would be credited toward their student loans." Actually, the FTC says, "the defendants pocketed consumers’ money and responded to consumer complaints by changing the name of their companies rather than their business practices."

The FTC in October 2017 announced a federal-state law enforcement initiative taking on deceptive student loan debt-relief schemes, called Operation Game of Loans. This settlement is part of that coordinated effort.

June 13, 2018

A coalition of 500 research universities, scientific organizations and businesses released a progress report today on a call for Congress and White House to support and improve innovation.

The report praises increased congressional support for research but says more progress must be made. And it finds areas like U.S. visa policy an increasing concern. The release of the report comes three years after the groups called on the federal government to take action to back research and innovation.

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