Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 14, 2017

Michigan State University on Monday announced the suspension of Kathie Klages, who is in her 27th year as women's gymnastics coach, MLive reported. The university did not indicate the reason for the suspension, but it follows allegations that a woman on her team reported concerns about treatments by the then head of sports medicine at the university and that the coach dismissed the concerns as a likely misunderstanding. Dozens of woman have sued or filed criminal complaints against the former head of sports medicine, Larry Nassar, who has been fired by the university. The suits and complaints say that he digitally penetrated their vaginas or anuses, without gloves or permission to do so. Nassar has declined to comment on the charges. Klages did not respond to requests for comment.

February 14, 2017

Faculty members and alumni at Kentucky State University are unhappy that a search to find a new president resulted in what they see as a disappointing set of finalists that does not include well-liked interim President Aaron Thompson.

The list of finalists for Kentucky State, a historically black university in Frankfort, includes M. Christopher Brown, Said Sewell and Thomas Colbert, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Brown is currently provost at Southern University in Louisiana but previously resigned as president of Alcorn State University in Mississippi after controversial upgrades to that university’s presidential residence, reportedly without legally required bids. Sewell is the provost of Lincoln University in Missouri but was the target of a no-confidence vote from faculty members there last year. Colbert is the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s first black justice but only has two years of experience in higher education -- from 1982 to 1984, when he was assistant dean at Marquette University Law School.

Thompson became Kentucky State’s interim president last year following the sudden resignation of President Raymond Burse. He is executive vice president and chief academic officer at the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. Many Kentucky State alumni and faculty members had hoped to see him become president permanently, as did local community members.

The university performed its search for a new president under a $120,000 contract with a search firm. Some faculty members have described the search as failed.

February 14, 2017

The eight universities in the Ivy League have joined nine other major research universities, including the University of Chicago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, in filing an amicus brief in a court challenge levied by the New York state attorney general and others opposing President Trump’s executive order temporarily barring entry by nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries and of refugees. A temporary restraining order upheld by an appellate court in a separate legal challenge on Thursday prohibits the Trump administration from enforcing the entry ban.

“While the executive order is currently limited to seven countries, its damaging effects have already been widely felt by American universities,” the brief states. “When the executive order went into effect, the 90-day suspension of entry left some of amici’s students, faculty and scholars stranded abroad, while others were unable to leave the United States to travel to their home countries or elsewhere for field research, academic meetings and family and personal obligations. Prospectively, the order threatens amici’s ability to attract the best students, faculty and scholars from throughout the globe, who depend on the ability to leave and return to this country. The uncertainty generated by the order and its implementation is already having negative impacts well beyond persons from the seven affected countries. People from all over the world are understandably anxious about having their visas prematurely canceled through no fault of their own. Individuals scheduled to attend academic conferences are uncertain whether they can attend, and many may have to cancel. Comments by high-ranking executive branch officials have suggested that the order could be extended to other countries, heightening institutional anxiety.”

February 14, 2017

Academic cardiology remains a medical field in which women are a distinct minority, and a new study suggests this is a particular problem at the senior levels. Only 15.9 percent of women in the field are full professors, compared to 30.6 percent for men. Notably, the gender gap remains significant when data are adjusted for age, years of experience and research productivity. The study was conducted by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and was published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association.

February 14, 2017

A new report from the Association of Community College Trustees, the California Community Colleges' Chancellors Office and the Institute for College Access & Success finds that student success increases among two-year, low-income students if they receive more financial aid.

Nearly half of students with a zero expected family contribution who received more than $7,500 in financial aid graduated or transferred, compared to 17 percent of those who received between $1,001 and $2,500 in aid. Those students who received a combination of federal, state and institutional aid had the highest rates of success.

“Our research shows that state and federal grant aid is vital to the academic persistence and success of many community college students,” said Noah Brown, president and chief executive officer of ACCT. “When even students in the lowest-tuition state struggle to cover all the costs of being in college, it’s clear that community college students across the country are facing very real financial barriers.”

February 14, 2017

Today on the Academic Minute, Ryan Kelly, assistant professor in the school of marine and environmental sciences at the University of Washington, discusses why scientists need to get better at storytelling if they want to get their point across. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

February 13, 2017

The owner of a chain of four Los Angeles-area colleges accused of running a “pay-to-stay” scheme through which foreign nationals fraudulently obtained immigration documents allowing them to stay in the U.S. on student visas though they were not bona fide students pleaded guilty Thursday to federal immigration fraud charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California announced in a press release.

Hee Sun Shim, 53, of Beverly Hills, owned and managed three colleges in Los Angeles’s Koreatown -- Prodee University/Neo-America Language School; Walter Jay M.D. Institute, an Educational Center; and the American College of Forensic Studies -- and a fourth institution, Likie Fashion and Technology College, in Alhambra, Calif. Prosecutors say that the four schools collected tuition from and issued immigration documents to individuals who were not genuine students and had no intention of attending classes -- and who, in some cases, lived outside California. Prosecutors also say that Shim created fake student records, including transcripts, to deceive federal immigration authorities.

As part of his plea agreement, Shim agreed to forfeit $465,000 seized by investigators in 2015. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Shim’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 5. Two other defendants in the case have also pleaded guilty and are pending sentencing.

February 13, 2017

President Trump on Friday said he might sign a “brand-new order” on immigration as enforcement of his Jan. 27 executive order barring entry into the U.S. for nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries remains halted by the courts.

The New York Times reported that the president promised to continue the court battle over the original order but “indicated that he would not wait for the process to play out to take action.” Appearing on Sunday morning news shows, Stephen Miller, a White House senior policy adviser, said the Trump administration is considering various legal options, including the possibility of a new order, according to The Washington Post.

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday to keep in place a temporary restraining order preventing the Trump administration from enforcing the entry ban. Many college and university leaders condemned the ban, which prevented the travel of students and scholars from the seven countries to their campuses and barred those who were already in the U.S. from traveling internationally for professional or personal purposes.

February 13, 2017

A recent New Jersey appeals court decision may help parents navigate the legal requirements of contributing to their children’s college tuition payments, The Courier-Post reported.

Until the ruling last Thursday, a divorced couple in New Jersey had been required to help with their emancipated daughter’s college tuition. But the three-judge panel threw out a previous ruling and ordered a new hearing for the case.

When she was 21, the couple’s daughter, Caitlyn Ricci, was emancipated from her parents. At that point, she had not lived with either of her parents for more than two years -- Ricci had been staying with her grandparents instead.

New Jersey state law says parents don’t have to assist with college tuition if a child is emancipated, but in 2013, a few months after she became legally independent from her mother and father, a Superior Court judge allowed Ricci to challenge that order. Her parents were forced to pay about $2,000 for Ricci’s education at Gloucester County College.

Those required costs went up dramatically when Ricci transferred to Temple University in Philadelphia the following year.

The ruling last week said a new judge should examine the events that led up to Ricci’s emancipation from her parents before making a decision about the case. One of the attorneys said that if Ricci wants financial support from her parents, she should also be open to her parents' guidance and counseling. By accepting legal independence from her parents, she was accepting financial independence as well, the ruling said.

Ricci “demonstrated her desire to be independent of parental control, which obviated any obligation for support,” the 43-page decision said.

Although it ordered a new hearing, the three-judge panel also asked the family to consider ending the court battle now, as “the chasm between parents and child surely will widen whatever the outcome” of a continued legal fight.

February 13, 2017

An instructor at Galveston College in Texas resigned last week after a student claimed the instructor was trying to help him cheat on upcoming tests, Click2Houston.com reported.

Robert Shields, director of the electrical and electronics technology program at the community college, sent the student copies of tests and correct answers to those tests, the student said.

W. Myles Shelton, president of Galveston College, called the situation “very troubling” and said Shields resigned voluntarily.

The student, Josh Araujo, informed multiple people at the college that Shields had sent him test answers. “I just don’t think he was meant to be a teacher,” Araujo told Click2Houston.com. Araujo also said the instructor was disorganized and appeared unfamiliar with some of the material he was teaching.

Araujo was taking a three-semester course from Shields, which ultimately would have provided him with a necessary certification to continue in the construction industry. He said he had spent about $3,600 on the course, and neither he nor the president of the college could say whether Araujo would be refunded.

Administrators don’t yet know if other students received the test questions and answers.

Shields did not respond to requests for comment from Inside Higher Ed.

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