Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 16, 2013

The Obama administration on Friday announced that it had convinced nearly 1,956 colleges and universities to adopt its financial aid “shopping sheet” -- a standardized template aimed at allowing students to easily compare the aid packages they are offered from different institutions. The administration has more than doubled since this summer the number of colleges committed to using the voluntary templates. In July, officials said that about 700 colleges had opted to use the shopping sheet in its first year.

The institutions that will now be using the forms enroll more than 43 percent of undergraduate students in the United States, an Education Department official said in a blog post. The department also announced Friday that it was making minor changes to the shopping sheet. The new version, will clarify that a university’s median borrowing statistic listed on the form only captures students who borrow at the institution. The revised shopping sheet will also feature a glossary of financial aid terms and an expanded customizable box where institutions can provide more individualized information about a student.  

December 16, 2013

The University of Colorado at Denver has placed Resa Cooper-Morning on leave from her job as cultural diversity coordinator in the ethnic studies department after a local news station reported that she was operating a phone sex business from her office. CBS4 broadcast information about her website promoting the business, and the university said it was taking the allegations "very seriously." Cooper-Morning declined to comment.

 

December 16, 2013

A former Denison University student who was expelled over sexual assault allegations is suing the institution, claiming campus officials violated his rights and did not follow their own policies during student judicial proceedings. The Newark Advocate reports that the lawsuit charges include negligence, violation of right to an attorney, and breach of contracts. Zackary Hunt is one of at least four students this year to sue their former colleges after campus hearings addressing sexual assault accusations. The others attended Xavier and Saint Joseph’s University, and Vassar College.

December 16, 2013

Fifty-six percent of all first-time college students who enrolled in fall 2007 earned a degree or certificate within six years, and that figure rose to 78 percent for those who were enrolled exclusively full time, the National Student Clearinghouse said in a report today. Those were among the many findings contained in "Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates," the clearinghouse's second annual report on completion rates. The report includes for the first time data on dual-enrollment students -- those who were enrolled in college-level courses while still in high school.

December 16, 2013

Eastern Nazarene College has clarified its rules so that student events can now include dancing, The Patriot Ledger reported. Dancing has not been explicitly banned to date, but many thought it was because the college followed the Church of the Nazarene Manual, which forbids “all forms of dancing that detract from spiritual growth and break down proper moral inhibitions and reserve.” The college has now adopted a policy that dancing is permitted, consistent with the church manual, provided that songs are not “vulgar or overtly suggestive in nature,” and that dances “must be appropriate and not sexually suggestive."

 

December 16, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Nadine Barlow of Northern Arizona University reveals why some craters on Mars have resisted erosion. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

December 13, 2013

Overall enrollment in higher education fell by 1.5 percent in fall 2013, marking the second consecutive year of decline, the National Student Clearinghouse estimated Thursday in a report. Enrollments edged up over fall 2012 at four-year private and public institutions, by 1.3 and 0.3 percent, respectively, but dropped by 3.1 and 9.7 percent at community colleges and four-year for-profit institutions, the clearinghouse report said. No region gained students in year-over-year numbers, but the Midwest (-2.6 percent) suffered most with the other regions dipping by less than a percentage point. 

The report also provides data on enrollments by state and gender, among other counts.

December 13, 2013

Yeshiva University this week announced plans for deep budget cuts, the continuation of cuts to faculty retirement accounts and the sale of some buildings owned by the university, The Jewish Daily Forward reported. Like many universities, Yeshiva lost a considerable share of its endowment after the economic downturn started in 2008. But Yeshiva also lost about $100 million due to investments with Bernard Madoff. And the university has been sued for millions by men who say that, as boys, they were abused at the university's high school -- and that officials ignored the problem. In October, Moody's Investors Service Moody's Investors Service downgraded the university's bond rating to Baa2 from Baa1, citing "the university's weak liquidity with a full draw on operating lines of credit, expected covenant breach on lines of credit, deep operating deficits driving negative cash flow, and uncertainty regarding the outcome of litigation."

December 13, 2013

Continued, mandatory tenure systems for law professors got a high-profile vote of support recently from two past presidents of the Association of American Law Schools. Robert A. Gorman, professor emeritus of law at the University of Pennsylvania, and Elliot S. Milstein, professor of law at American University, sent a letter to the American Bar Association in favor of its current requirement that law schools offer professors a system of earning tenure as a condition of accreditation. That stipulation has come under fire in recent years, and it is now under review by the ABA’s Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. The reviewing council has asked for comment on several proposed alternatives to that requirement, one of which does away with does away with the tenure requirement entirely. Another requires enough “security of position” for faculty to ensure academic freedom and quality recruitment, but does not require tenure as it is traditionally understood. In their letter, Gorman and Milstein argue that it is a necessary condition of employment, given the unpopular positions law school faculty members must argue. Judges and civil servants enjoy tenure-like conditions, they argue, and those who disapprove of tenure frequently misunderstand it. It’s a not a guaranteed job for life, they say, but a means of attracting and retaining top educators.

In an email, Milstein said: “As both teachers and scholars, law professors often play an important role in a society built on the rule of law, to be critical of injustice and advocate for change. Furthermore, clinical professors and their students represent clients whose positions are sometimes unpopular with the powerful. Internally, law school governance is often a process in which what will be taught, how it will be taught, to whom, and by whom are contentious issues. Decisions about what is valued in a law school have an effect on the nature of the legal profession and concomitantly upon law itself.”

In addition to the authors, 14 other past presidents of the Association of American Law Schools have signed on. Barry Currier, managing director of accreditation and legal education at the ABA, said the council had received the letter and added it to a growing list of feedback on the tenure proposals. The council is expected to vote on the matter at either its March or June meetings, he said.

 

December 13, 2013

About 2,500 applicants to Fordham University were incorrectly told this week that they had been admitted, when in reality 500 of them had been rejected and another 2,000 had been deferred, The New York Times reported. The notification came with information about financial aid notices and arrived two days before the applicants had expected to hear from the university. The emails came from Student Aid Services, a contractor working with the university. Both the company and the university have apologized and said that they are trying to figure out what happened.

 

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