Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 3:00am

This month the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges issued a report calling on trustees to meet their responsibilities for making sure athletics programs are run with integrity, consistent with the educational values of their institutions. It's not clear that all trustees have read the report about where they should focus their attention. The Tampa Bay Times used open-records requests to obtain the e-mail message John Ramil, the board chair of the University of South Florida, sent out after USF lost a football game to Temple University. "Disgusting and unacceptable. We have major problems with our football program," he wrote in an e-mail to the president's chief of staff. That e-mail in turn was forwarded to the athletics director, with a suggestion that he have a talk with the board chair. Asked about the e-mail, Ramil told the newspaper that "I was expressing the same feeling of frustration as all the USF fans are feeling.... I personally want what's best for all the USF programs, whether academic or sports. I also believe in candid feedback, and I think the president and the athletic director and the coaches need to have that kind of feeling of feedback from all the fans. I've given them feedback on good stuff, too."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 3:00am

The National Collegiate Athletic Association followed through last Monday on its vow to bar the staging of championship events in New Jersey, citing the state's passage in July of a law that permits sports gambling. NCAA policies prohibit the association from holding events in any state that allows betting on individual college games, and there were five regional and national championships planned for the state in this academic year. “Consistent with our policies and beliefs, the law in New Jersey requires that we no longer host championships in the state," said Mark Lewis, NCAA executive vice president of championships and alliances. "We will work hard in the days ahead to find new suitable host locations which will allow the student-athletes to have the best possible competitive experience.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 3:00am

Blackboard announced Monday that Michael Chasen will be stepping down as its CEO at the end of the year. He will be succeeded by Jay Bhatt, who is president and CEO of Progress Software. Chasen was the co-founder of Blackboard in 1997, and saw huge growth in the company's size and influence in higher education. The company dominates the learning management system market, and has also seen its share of controversies while gaining that position and acquiring many other companies in related fields. Chasen posted this open letter about the change.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 3:00am

Upcoming changes to income-based repayment for student loans will benefit graduate students with high debt and high salaries, according to a new report from the New America Foundation. The report, "Safety Net or Windfall?", argues that changes to the income-based repayment system, which will lower monthly payments to 10 percent of a borrower's income (down from 15 percent) and confer loan forgiveness after 20 years (down from 25 years), will encourage graduate schools to increase tuition because high-debt borrowers might not have to repay all of their loans. Low-income borrowers will see only a modest benefit, write the report's authors, Jason Delisle and Alex Holt of the Federal Education Budget Project. They suggest maintaining the new benefits only for borrowers with income at less than 300 percent of the poverty line.

Monday, October 15, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Tim Lockley of the University of Warwick explains why 19th-century yellow fever epidemics hit some segments of Savannah’s population harder than others. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, October 15, 2012 - 3:00am

The Australian Human Rights Commission has issued principles to protect the rights of international students enrolled in Australia. The principles are intended as a guide for universities, government entities and others on which the students rely for fair treatment. The four principles call for "enhancing the human rights of international students," "ensuring all international students have access to human rights and freedom from discrimination protections," "understanding the diverse needs of international students" and "empowering international students during their stay in Australia." For each principle, a series of concrete measures are outlined. For instance, enhancing the human rights of international students is defined as including access to health care while in Australia, affordable places to live, access to safe public transportation and more.

 

Monday, October 15, 2012 - 3:00am

Sylvester Oliver, who was until recently a professor and director of humanities at Rust College, is in jail facing charges that he raped a student, WREG News reported. Investigators said that the allegations stem from an incident a month ago, but that the student came forward two weeks later. David L. Beckley, president of the college, said via e-mail that the case is in the hands of the police department, but that Oliver "is no longer employed" by the college.

Monday, October 15, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Wyoming said it removed a controversial sculpture from campus on schedule and because of water damage. But The Casper Star-Tribune, based on e-mail records it obtained, said that the schedule was moved up amid concern about how the sculpture was offending the coal industry, legislators and donors. The large sculpture, "Carbon Sink: What Goes Around, Comes Around," featured coal and wood sinking into the earth, and was viewed by many as anti-coal. The e-mail records show university officials worried about the fallout from those criticizing the sculpture, and reaching out to let them know that the work was being removed. The e-mails also show considerable anger over the sculpture. An e-mail from Bruce Hinchey, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, said: "The next time the University of Wyoming is asking for donations it might be helpful to remind them of this and other things they have done to the industries that feed them before you donate.... They always hide behind academic freedom but their policies and actions can change if they so choose."

 

Monday, October 15, 2012 - 4:15am

The University of Texas is planning today to officially join edX, which offers massive open online courses or MOOCs. Because the Texas announcement involves an entire system, it represents a major expansion of edX, which was founded by two universities (Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and was later joined by one other (the University of California at Berkeley). Coursera, another major MOOC provider, has been adding universities at a rapid pace. The Texas system plans to focus on general education and introductory-level courses for its MOOC offerings. Bloomberg reported that the University of Texas is paying $5 million to join edX.

 

Monday, October 15, 2012 - 3:00am

The New Hampshire Attorney General's office said Friday that allegations from this summer that Dartmouth College trustees steered the college's investments toward their own firms did not merit further investigation and that the office had found no evidence of wrongdoing. An anonymous letter to the office earlier this year alleged that at least 10 Dartmouth alumni who sat on its board of trustees and investment board had made investments that were good for them but bad for the institution's long-term financial health. "Based on the unsupported nature of the allegations in the Complaint, the content of the Responses, and our review of the college's most recent financial statement," the office wrote in a letter to the college's general counsel Friday, "we find no basis to conclude Dartmouth's Trustees have violated state law by engaging in related party transactions involving the investment of a portion of Dartmouth's endowment."

“The Attorney General’s finding that these anonymous and baseless allegations are without merit speaks to the rigor of Dartmouth’s policy and practice," the college said in a statement. "As we have said previously, Dartmouth meets or exceeds all the requirements of New Hampshire law with regard to its endowment investments and for investments with firms managed by trustees or Investment Committee members.”

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