Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 14, 2013

Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, has encouraged the state's colleges (most of them former community colleges) to develop plans for $10,000 bachelor's degrees (for four years of expenses). But The Sun Sentinel reported that not all of the programs announced have actually started, and that it is unclear just how much demand exists. Broward College, for example, opened registration for such a program a month ago, with 80 slots. To date, no one has signed up.

 

October 14, 2013

California's governor, Jerry Brown, last week signed a bill that seeks to nudge the state's public institutions to comply with ambitious transfer pathway legislation. The new law sets a series of timelines for community colleges to create curriculums and begin offering transfer degrees. It also requires the California State University System to accept those degrees whenever possible.

October 14, 2013

Florida, like many states, has a searchable registry of sex offenders. But for the first time, the registry offers a higher education search, so users can find out if there are sex offenders enrolled at or working at specific colleges and universities, The Sun Sentinel reported. In almost all of the cases, the offenders are students. One Florida college, Edison State College, is currently considering a complete ban on the enrollment of sex offenders, The Naples Daily News reported.

October 14, 2013

The Horace Mann School, an elite private high school in New York City, informed parents that an anonymous person has written to colleges with the goal of damaging the admissions chances of one of the school's students, New York Magazine reported. The school has contacted the admissions offices that received the material to try to undo the damage. A letter sent by Canh Oxelson, director of college counseling, to parents said: "In 20 years of college admissions, I have never witnessed anything so disrespectful.... For a student to have worked so hard for so many years, only to see those efforts jeopardized by an act of sabotage, is absolutely unconscionable."

October 14, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Matthew Heard of Winthrop University discusses the threat diseases pose to endangered species. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
 

October 14, 2013

A new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research (abstract available here) finds that college and university endowments change their policies on spending rates regularly -- a finding that was not expected. "Given the long-term and relatively static nature of the investment problem faced by the typical educational institution, existing theoretical models of endowment management predict that the permanent portion of the stated spending policy should be highly stable," the report says. But based on an analysis of more than 800 college and university endowments from 2003 through 2011, the study found that half of the endowments changed spending policies at least once, and a quarter did so every year.

 

October 14, 2013

Most of the discussions and lawsuits over concussions are coming from football players, but one former Samford University soccer player entered the fray last week, with a lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association arguing that the association didn’t do enough to educate athletes on the dangers of head trauma. Mary Shelton Wells’s athletic career ended in 2010 due to a brain injury sustained while playing soccer, WPMI Local 15 in Alabama reported.

The NCAA is facing multiple concussion lawsuits, some class action, filed by former football players. The National Football League recently agreed to pay $765 million to settle a lawsuit by former players who argued the NFL deliberately concealed the dangers of head trauma.

October 14, 2013

Some law school deans thought recent communication from U.S. News & World report indicated that the magazine's rankings were about to ignore the recommendations of the American Bar Association. It turns out that U.S. News is preserving that option, but hasn't decided what to do. At issue is one of the recommendations of a special ABA panel that last month proposed numerous changes in legal education. One of the focuses of the ABA panel was the widespread criticism that law school is too expensive and that, at many law schools, spending that forces up tuition rates may not be improving the student experience. The panel specifically cited the impact of U.S. News including spending (expenditures per student) in its methodology. "This encourages law schools to increase expenditures for purpose of affecting ranking, without reference to impact on value delivered or educational outcomes, and thus promotes continued increase in the price of law school education." The panel urged U.S. News to stop including the measure in its methodology.

As a result, some law deans were disturbed to get this year's information request from U.S. News, with the same expenditure questions as in years past. One unnamed dean wrote on the blog Brian Leiter's Law School Reports: "While the decision to rank schools according to how much they spend has always been corrosive, perverse, and misleading, it is particularly disturbing to see U.S. News continue to do so in light of the above and in light of the urgent need for law schools to hold down costs and limit expenditures in order to minimize student debt."

Robert Morse, who directs the rankings at U.S. News, via e-mail confirmed that the questions were being asked but he said it was inaccurate to say that the information will be used in the next rankings. But he said that the rankings operation "has not made a determination at this time if there will be any change in the upcoming best law schools  ranking methodology."

 

October 14, 2013

Yeshiva University no longer employs Akiva Roth, who as recently hired as a Hebrew instructor, after reports that he had been convicted of lewdness in the past, related to inappropriate contact with boys whom he tutored, The Forward reported. Yeshiva is currently facing lawsuits and considerable criticism for a series of reports about how officials did not take action against officials at its high school who abused students. Yeshiva did not indicate whether Roth resigned or was fired after the Forward reported on his past. A Yeshiva spokesman said: "While all appointments are subject to thorough background checks, the university erred in this case, permitting the new hire to begin teaching before the screening process had been completed,"


 

October 11, 2013

The student who wrote the "Luring Your Rapebait" e-mail to his Georgia Institute of Technology fraternity brothers -- an e-mail that went viral, infuriating many people -- has issued an apology. The e-mail described techniques for getting women drunk at parties with the goal of taking advantage of their drunkenness. In the apology -- published in Georgia Tech's student newspaper -- the author says that his fraternity nickname is "4th Grade Rape Bait" because of "my youthful looks and the connotation of what may happen to someone like me in prison." While the author, identified only as Matthew, offers that explanation, he does not defend himself. "In retrospect, it was a nickname I should not have embraced but continuing to use the term was my fault. As a leader I should have put a stop to it in any reference," he wrote.

"Misogynistic behavior is everywhere online and unfortunately, my attempt to ridicule it in an immature and outrageous satire backfired terribly and in a manner I mistakenly underestimated," Matthew added. "In fact the 'locker room' banter that characterizes this e-mail was wrong in and of itself whether or not contained in a written communication. I am both embarrassed and ashamed at this dialogue and realize now that any sexual statement that is demeaning to women is never a joke."

 

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