Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 3:00am

Centre College on Tuesday announced a $250 million gift -- believed to be the largest ever to a liberal arts college -- that will support merit scholarships. Starting in the fall of 2014, 40 students a year will receive what the college is calling "full ride plus" scholarships, to cover tuition, room and board, all fees and additional money to support study abroad, research or internships. The funds will be available only to students majoring in the natural sciences, computational sciences and economics.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 3:00am

Kevin P. Reilly, president of the University of Wisconsin System, announced Tuesday that he plans to step down in January, following a nine-year tenure in the position. He has served as president during a period of deep budget cuts, a faculty unionization drive, a move by the governor to bar such unions and a battle over how much independence the flagship campus at Madison should have. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted that Reilly was stepping down after a legislative session in which he had numerous clashes with legislators over reserve funds of the university. But Reilly said that his decision had been in the works well before the most recent legislative session.

The American Council on Education announced that Reilly would become a presidential advisor for leadership at the organization, working on programs to help presidents and other senior administrators. In an interview, Reilly said that he viewed it as crucial to higher education that future leaders be recruited and trained. He noted that in his current position, he has hired 31 chancellors or interim chancellors. One issue he said would like to address is the reluctance of an increasing number of provosts to consider presidencies. He said that he believes the right programs can help provosts see that "while it's not an easy job, it is a job they can do and that is so worth doing."


 

 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 3:00am

The Organization of American Historians has released a report on the historians who were part of a large study released by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce last year about faculty members off the tenure track. Among other things, the study found that historians were more likely than other adjuncts to view college teaching as their primary job, and to have hope of full-time or tenure-track work.

 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 4:30am

The board of the St. Louis Community College District -- after a 3-3 tie vote -- will not renew the contract of Chancellor Myrtle Dorsey, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Discussion of Dorsey took place in an executive session, so the rationale of board members was not clear. But Dorsey and the district have faced widespread criticism over the handling of an incident in which a female student was attacked in a restroom and her supporters say that the college failed to respond adequately, with campus police letting the suspect go. Dorsey was hired in 2011 and her current contract goes through June 2014.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Hannah Dugdale of the University of Sheffield explores the underrepresentation of women as presenters at top-tier academic conferences. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - 3:00am

The U.S. Education Department last week announced significant changes in the array of providers it uses to service federal student loans, and the flurry of changes are likely to reinforce concerns among some student loan borrowers about how they and their loans are treated by the servicers (especially when their loans are split among multiple servicers).

The announcement from the department on Friday expanded on an earlier announcement about the agency's plan to phase out the involvement of ACS (which is owned by Xerox) from its student loan servicing team, and the addition of Nelnet. The statement, aimed at financial aid officers, also notes that the technology platform used by four nonprofit loan servicers is being discontinued, and that loans held by those servicers will be transferred to two other nonprofit service providers.

A ProPublica report last year documented the difficulties that some borrowers had encountered from having their loans randomly assigned to servicers (and in some cases multiple ones), including inconsistent or changing information about how much they owe, payment plans, etc.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said in March that it would extend its oversight to student loan servicers.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - 4:26am

The University of Oslo is considering an application from Anders Behring Breivik, who is in jail for killing 77 people and wounding many others in a bombing and shootings that stunned Norway in 2011, The Local reported. Breivik wants to study remotely, in political science. Some instructors have told local reporters they would refuse to teach him, but the prison is encouraging his application. Ole Petter Ottersen, the university's rector, said that it was "human" for there to be reactions to the possibility of teaching Breivik. But Ottersen said that the application would be evaluated on its merits. "We cannot refuse anyone the chance of studying at the University of Oslo," he said. "We have to follow the technical rules for admission."

 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - 3:00am

A federal court has denied a request by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of the Inspector General for a trove of emails from The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), a consumer protection group. The department had sought to enforce a subpoena that asked for transcripts of email messages related to for-profits. At issue is whether Robert Shireman, who founded the group, might have violated a federal ethics law by discussing pending regulations while he was working as an official at the department. 

A federal magistrate judge, in a court filing last week, said the subpoena was an overreach because TICAS has no financial or programmatic ties to the federal government. Department officials also "conveyed ambiguous messages" about the subpoena, according to the filing. And the judge wrote that investigators can talk directly to Shireman.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - 3:00am

Financial information for-profit colleges submit to the U.S. Department of Education is inconsistent and generally not helpful, according to an audit by the department's Office of Inspector General. For-profits provide financial statements to the department as a requirement of their participation in federal financial aid programs. But those statements lack transparency, the audit found, because the presentation about instruction and marketing costs is not consistent across institutions.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - 3:00am

E. Gordon Gee, who stepped down as president of Ohio State University on July 1, will make $5.8 million over the next five years as part of a new contract with the university. According to the contract, Gee will serve as a tenured professor in Ohio State's law school and his responsibilities will include "completion of his research on 21st Century Education Policy and will include research, writing and national speaking as well as teaching or lecturing" in the law school, the school of public affairs and the college of education. Gee's annual base salary will be $410,000, and he will receive retirement contributions and a grant of $300,000 to fund his research. After the five years are up, Gee's salary will be equivalent to the highest-paid non-administrative faculty member in the law school.

The new contract waives any compensation Gee would have been entitled to under his previous contract with the university, which would have paid out approximately $6 million in supplemental and deferred compensation over the next four years.

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