Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 7, 2018

Students at Duquesne University are demanding that administrators share more information about the death of a football player who allegedly jumped out of a campus residence hall last month.

Students and teammates of 21-year-old Marquis Jaylen Brown told WTAE in Pittsburgh they do not believe that Brown jumped from a 16th-floor window to his death in early October. The TV station reported that students gathered at one of the university fields on Monday in a walkout over Brown's death.

An investigation into Brown's death is continuing, and medical examiners are awaiting toxicology test results, WTAE reported.

Brown's friends are also calling for grief counseling for students and have asked for a university forum to address Brown's death.

November 7, 2018

The False Claims Act does not protect employees who blow the whistle on an employer from retaliation that occurs only after they have stopped working there, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in a case involving a former employee of a for-profit college.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit rejected Debbi Potts's claim that the CollegeAmerica chain of colleges (now owned by the Center for Excellence in Higher Education) retaliated against her for complaining to its accreditor, the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, about alleged unethical business practices at CollegeAmerica's Cheyenne, Wyo., campus, which Potts directed. Potts asserted that the college had violated its accreditation standards and that her complaint to the accreditor was thus covered under the False Claims Act.

The appeals court ruled that "because Potts alleges that the Center retaliated against her after she resigned her employment," the False Claims Act's protections do not apply.

November 7, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, part of Carleton College Week: Rika Anderson, assistant professor of biology, examines how life survives deep in the oceans and takes a dive into microbes and hydrothermal vents. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

November 6, 2018

College students increasingly are being diagnosed and treated for mental health issues, according to a new study published by the American Psychiatric Association.

The study included survey data from 155,000 students at 196 college campuses. It found that the rate of respondents being treated for mental health issues in the past year increased to 34 percent in 2017 from 19 percent in 2007, while the percentage of students with lifetime diagnoses increased to 36 percent from 22 percent. Depression and suicide risks also increased, according to the study. But the stigma of being diagnosed with a mental illness decreased, which could explain some of the increases.

November 6, 2018

A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit brought by a for-profit college chain seeking to assure access to Title IV federal student aid money while it undertakes a financial restructuring.

Education Corporation of America filed the lawsuit against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Education Department last month in the Northern District of Alabama to keep access to federal funds while it pursued a receivership plan. But Judge Abdul Kallon ruled the court did not have jurisdiction in the case.

Besides one phone call in which an Education Department official refused to offer assurance that the plan would be approved, the court found no evidence the receivership plan was ever submitted to the department.

ECA announced in September that it plans to close about a third of its campuses by the end of 2019. Confronted with declining enrollment, the chain has defaulted on payments of its debts and faces claims from multiple creditors and evictions from several campuses. It argued in the lawsuit that without the receivership in place, it may be unable to complete teach-outs of campuses slated for closure.

A spokesman for ECA said Monday that chain was considering other options after the lawsuit's dismissal but didn't provide further comment.

November 6, 2018

The Sage Colleges on Monday announced plans to combine two undergraduate institutions: Russell Sage College and Sage College of Albany. Maintaining the two colleges is confusing and does not advance the Sage mission, said a statement explaining the shift. Russell Sage is a women's college.

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The statement said in part, "The reality of two campuses poses problems for students weighing Sage as a college choice: on one hand, the fundamental distinction between the two campuses lies in the programs offered; on the other hand, one campus is coed and the other is all women. That can lead prospective male students to think certain programs are off limits to them, even though all students can major in any program available. The Troy campus was opened some years ago to male attendance and male majors, but not to male residents (except for theater). The different general education curricula by campus complicate this imbalance."

On social media, some alumnae have complained about the decision to eliminate a separate women's institution.

November 6, 2018

Inside Higher Ed held our second annual Halloween contest last week, inviting academics working in costume to post photos to social media. You can see the many great entries at #IHEhalloween.

Our judges had a difficult task. And the prize (chocolate) makes the decision an important one. Our winner is the chemistry department at Kalamazoo College. Our runner-up is M. E. Hernandez, a senior writer at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

 

 

 

 

November 6, 2018

Faculty at the University of the Pacific passed a vote of no confidence in Pamela Eibeck, president of the university, on Monday. Fifty-eight percent of the faculty participated, and of those, 93 percent supported a vote of no confidence. The vote followed a resolution of no confidence by the Academic Council -- the university’s faculty senate -- and student protests calling for Eibeck’s removal in the wake of campuswide budget cuts.

In response, Kevin Huber, chair of the Board of Regents, said that the "regents will review and discuss the information and provide a response to the Academic Council."

As of Wednesday, the board remained steadfast in its support of the president. In a letter to staff, faculty and students, Huber wrote that the board “strongly and unequivocally” supports Eibeck and the administration.

November 6, 2018

Arizona State University is partnering with ride-sharing company Uber to offer drivers tuition-free online degrees.

Uber drivers or their family members will have the opportunity to choose from more than 80 undergraduate degree programs. To qualify, drivers will have to maintain a high user rating and drive regularly. They can also earn certificates in entrepreneurship or English as a second language. Initially, the benefits will only be available to drivers in eight cities across the U.S.

ASU’s partnership with Uber will be broader in scope than its partnership with Starbucks, which does not allow the transfer of benefits to family members.

November 6, 2018

A biographer of the Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi will not take up his post as a professor of humanities at a new university after Hindu nationalist student groups objected to his appointment, The Guardian reported.

Ramachandra Guha wrote on Twitter that he would not be joining the faculty at Ahmedabad University “due to circumstances beyond my control.” A student group affiliated with the party of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, had complained that Guha’s work was “critical of India’s Hindu culture.”

The Guardian reported that Guha had been asked to delay the start of his appointment until after the parliamentary elections, and he had declined to do so. Ahmedabad University has denied that it was pressured by the student group.

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