Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 4, 2014

The board of the University of West Alabama has placed President Richard Holland on leave, and voted not to renew his contract, The Tuscaloosa News reported. The move came just after Holland asked the board to investigate whether a trustee inappropriately sought to influence the board's review of his performance, the News reported. According to Holland, the trustee worked with two senior administrators to identify people who view the president negatively -- so that those individuals' views would be included in the performance review. The trustee declined to comment.

 

March 4, 2014

Division I athletes are far more likely than the general population or those who were physically active non-athletes in college to have a range of serious health issues later in life, according to research published by Janet Simon, a graduate student at Indiana University at Bloomington, in American Journal of Sports Medicine. Simon found not only that the Division I athletes had more injuries that might have been related to injuries sustained while playing college athletics, but that they scored worse on depression and fatigue.

 

March 3, 2014

On the heels of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s announcement last week that it was suing for-profit education giant ITT Educational Services for engaging in predatory lending practices, one Democratic senator is calling on the Department of Education to also investigate the company. Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat and longtime critic of for-profit colleges, on Friday sent a letter urging Education Secretary Arne Duncan “to investigate these troubling accusations and scrutinize ITT’s participation” in federal student aid programs.

Durbin also sent a letter to ITT’s accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, calling for the agency to “hold ITT accountable.”

Durbin previously sent similar letters to the Education Department in December asking for an investigation of Corinthian Colleges after a Huffington Post article said the company had hired graduates temporarily to artificially boost Corinthian's job placement rates. 

March 3, 2014

E. Gordon Gee plans to stay on as president of West Virginia University after both sides reversed course on what was supposed to be only a temporary posting. Gee, a 70-year-old, seven-time college president, became interim president of WVU in January after its president abruptly left for another job. The deal, as originally described publicly, was that Gee would stay only until the university found a new president and that he could not be a candidate.

But the presidential search committee passed a resolution Friday urging the university's board of governors to make Gee the permanent president. The board is expected to meet today in an emergency session to consider that plan. The state's higher education coordinating board would also need to sign off on the deal.

Board Chairman Jim Dailey told the Saturday Charleston Gazette-Mail he expected Gee to accept the job. "I was getting calls from, literally, all over the country from alumni and so forth," Dailey told the paper. "Everyone said, 'You need to keep him.'"

One member of the search committee, a professor, dissented from the process the committee used to decide to keep Gee, but told the Gazette-Mail he was a fan of Gee.

March 3, 2014

The Graduate Center of the City University of New York announced Friday that Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate and professor of economics and political science at Princeton University, would be joining the faculty. He will switch universities but keep writing his column in The New York Times. At a time that many leading public universities worry about losing talent to private institutions, Krugman's hire was announced just after that of Cathy Davidson, who is moving to the Graduate Center from Duke University.

March 3, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Daphne Hernandez, assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Houston, explains that while food-insecure families struggle to pay for healthy food, the roots of the problem go beyond economics. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

March 3, 2014

Less than a week after merger talks with another Christian college collapsed, Montreat College in North Carolina announced plan to go it alone. The college's board announced what it called an ambitious plan to revitalize the college. It announced it had received $6.4 million and was hoping to raise another $1.6 million for the effort, known as "All In," which would include a search to replace its interim president, renovate facilities, pay down debt, add new programs and research, and give more financial aid.

The board had been subject of much criticism from alumni and faculty and a no confidence vote from faculty after it announced plans last year to merge with Point University, another Christian college about a five-hour drive away in Georgia. The plan might ultimately have closed Montreat's main campus, which lies in a scenic mountain cove near Asheville.

The board's plan, announced Saturday, may go a long way to soothing those many concerns and made clear the college does not plan to merge.

"After evaluating all of those options, the board of trustees has sensed that God is not finished with Montreat College as an independent institution, and we believe Montreat has a bright future ahead of it," board Chairman Barney Wright said in a statement. 

Kevin C. Auman, chairman of the Faculty Executive Committee , said the board's actions helped address faculty concerns. "We were aware that it [was] unlikely that they would be able to address every issue in one meeting, [but] we got far more than we expected," he said in an email. "There is still work to do, but this is a strong step in the right direction."

March 3, 2014

Three Carleton College students were killed Friday, and two others were seriously injured, in a car accident, the college announced. The Star Tribune reported that the students were en route to an Ultimate Frisbee competition in California.

 

March 3, 2014

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, a Republican, is being blocked by the State Senate over a controversial nominee to the Board of Regents of New Mexico Highlands University, The New Mexican reported. The nominee, Carl G. Foster, was formerly an adjunct at the university and he has sued an academic dean, a vice president, and the Board of Regents that he hopes to join. State senators said that they didn't like the idea of appointing to a board someone who is suing that board. Foster responded by dropping the lawsuit, but that hasn't won him support.

 

March 3, 2014

Northwood University, a private institution in Michigan, announced that it is closing its residential undergraduate programs in Texas, but is keeping its adult and graduate programs. A statement from the university said that "[t]hese significant actions will ensure its Texas operations' ongoing relevance, vitality, and financial strength to provide students with a world-class business education." The Dallas Morning News reported that the programs being closed will force about 400 students to transfer, and will cost the jobs of 60 full-time faculty and staff members.

 

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