Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - 4:18am

Columbia University's board voted Monday to divest its endowment from private prison companies, CNN reported. Columbia may be the first American college or university to adopt such a policy. Student and faculty groups have been urging the shift. Columbia has in the past invested in two such companies, although there have been reports that holdings in one company were sold prior to Monday's vote. A statement from the university to CNN said: “This action occurs within the larger, ongoing discussion of the issue of mass incarceration that concerns citizens from across the ideological spectrum. The decision follows… thoughtful analysis and deliberation by our faculty, students and alumni.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - 3:00am

The monks who founded Benedictine University, in Illinois, have sued the institution, saying that it is ignoring their authority, The Chicago Tribune reported. The university issued a statement Monday saying that some bylaw clarification may be needed, but denying wrongdoing. The dispute appears to involve the appointment of Michael Brophy as the university's next president. The monks say that the university bylaws give them the right to approve the new president, and that the university board ignored this. They are also requesting that they be able to interview three finalists.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - 3:00am

Three women's colleges that accepted students transferring from Sweet Briar College plan to refund the deposits of any student who has changed her mind about transferring now that Sweet Briar will remain open for the 2015-16 academic year.

Hollins University, Agnes Scott College and Mary Baldwin College will each refund enrollment deposits for students returning to Sweet Briar, which on Saturday announced that it is abandoning a plan announced four months ago to close the women's college. At Hollins, 70 students transferring from Sweet Briar paid enrollment deposits for the fall.

"We are in the process of contacting all Sweet Briar students who have enrolled as transfers at Agnes Scott and are offering to refund their deposit if they choose to stay at Sweet Briar," Agnes Scott President Elizabeth Kiss said in a statement. "We remain committed to providing a warm Scottie welcome to all admitted transfer students from Sweet Briar who wish to join the Agnes Scott community."

Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - 3:00am

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Monday wrote to three web search engines -- Google, Bing and Yahoo -- to ask the companies to work with federal and state authorities to prevent "student debt relief scammers" from targeting distressed borrowers.

"The CFPB has seen an increase in the number of companies and websites requiring large up-front fees to help borrowers enroll in a plan that can be done for free," according to the CFPB. "While we have warned consumers about these scams, we are concerned that unscrupulous companies may be using aggressive advertising through search products to lure distressed borrowers."

State and federal agencies have pursued several of the debt relief outfits for allegedly illegal and harmful actions, the letter said. And the CFPB said some of those companies may be violating the search engine hosts' policies against misrepresentation in advertisements.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - 4:32am

Police officers at the University of California at Los Angeles on Monday arrested Sean Combs, the music star widely known as Diddy, on three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of making terrorist threats and one count of battery. The weapon referenced was a kettlebell. The university said the arrest took place at the Acosta Athletic Training Complex, where members of the football team work out. Justin Combs, son of Sean Combs, is a member of the UCLA football team. ESPN and others reported that Sean Combs attacked a conditioning coach, Sal Alosi. Combs posted bail and has not commented.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - 3:00am

Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer who killed 77 people in an attack in 2011, has again applied to the University of Oslo, The Local reported. Breivik applied previously but was told he was not eligible as he had not obtained a high school degree. Now he has. Dag Harald Claes, the head of the university’s politics department, told the newspaper Dagbladet that if Breivik is admitted, he will not be able to pursue a degree because five of the nine modules involve seminars and face-to-face meetings that Breivik could not join, as he is in prison.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Deji Akinwande, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering, discusses Moore’s law and some groundbreaking technology advances. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, June 22, 2015 - 3:00am

Hillary Clinton last week said as president she would seek to crack down on the for-profit college sector's aggressive recruitment of military veterans, the Associated Press reported. The former U.S. secretary of state and current candidate for the Democratic nomination for president said she would push to change the so-called 90/10 rule, which prevents for-profits from receiving more than 90 percent of their revenue from federal sources. Under current regulations, veterans' educational benefits like the Post-9/11 GI Bill do not count toward that 90 percent limit. Clinton said she would seek to eliminate this "loophole," as some of her Democratic colleagues in the U.S. Senate have sought to do several times before, unsuccessfully.

Monday, June 22, 2015 - 3:00am

Elson S. Floyd, president of Washington State University since 2007, died Saturday from complications from colon cancer. Floyd won widespread praise for his work at Washington State University, where he oversaw enrollment growth, a near doubling of the minority student population, the addition of many new programs and a successful $1 billion fund-raising campaign. Floyd, dubbed "E FLO" by many students, was known for his close connection to students, and the university's Facebook page is full of statements from students and alumni about how accessible and friendly he was. Floyd was born to a working class family, to parents who never graduated from high school, and he regularly spoke of the importance of public higher education in providing a path to success for the disadvantaged. Before moving to Washington State, Floyd was president of Western Michigan University and the University of Missouri System.

Monday, June 22, 2015 - 4:18am

Ivy Tech Community College, a statewide community college system in Indiana, has been facing questions from legislators about what they perceive to be low graduation rates. Now Ivy Tech is facing the possibility that the State Workforce Innovation Council could cut off federal funds that the college receives through the Workforce Investment Act, The Journal Gazette reported. The state council has minimum completion rates, both for short-term and long-term programs, and Ivy Tech has some programs that are not meeting those minimums. At the same time, council officials said that they are reluctant to cut off Ivy Tech because it provides so much of the state's training.

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