Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, August 26, 2013 - 3:00am

New York State has sued Trump University for making false claims and operating as an unlicensed educational institution from 2005 to 2011, The New York Times reported. Trump University earlier changed its name to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative after the New York State Education Department said it was deceptive for the for-profit institution to call itself a university. The lawsuit announced Saturday says that the Donald Trump led organization encouraged people "to spend tens of thousands of dollars they couldn’t afford for lessons they never got." As an example of a false claim, the suit says that Donald Trump claimed in promotional materials that he selected instructors to teach a curriculum he devised. In reality, the state attorney general says, Trump didn't pick the instructors or create the curriculum. A lawyer for Trump said that the suit was politically motivated and that the vast majority of students were satisfied with their courses.

 

Monday, August 26, 2013 - 3:00am

In another sign of tightening Chinese oversight of higher education, the government has barred a law professor -- Zhang Xuezhong of the East China University of Political Science -- from the classroom, the Associated Press reported. Zhang has been faulted by Chinese authorities for advocating that the country have a constitution under which the Communist Party would operate rather than having the constitution (as is currently the case) operate only within the rules of the party. Officials have said that Zhang's positions are unconstitutional.

Monday, August 26, 2013 - 3:00am

An article in The New York Times explores the role of ESPN in college football and how the network has arguably become more influential than conferences, the National Collegiate Athletic Association or (not that there was much doubt) faculty members at various institutions. The article traces the network's role in picking match-ups, scheduling game times and encouraging trends such as games that are not on Saturday.

 

Monday, August 26, 2013 - 3:00am

The board of California Lutheran University has approved a plan for the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary to become part of the university. The seminary, which would maintain its campus in Berkeley, has been free-standing. Both institutions are affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The plan still needs to be approved by the accreditor of the institutions, the Western Association of Colleges and Schools.

Monday, August 26, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Adam Siepel of Cornell University explains why humans and chimpanzees are drastically different despite sharing much of the same DNA. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, August 26, 2013 - 3:00am

Robert Rumbelow resigned as director of the band at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign last week after officials determined that he sold $87,000 in old instruments of the university's on eBay and elsewhere, The Chicago Tribune reported. Rumbelow faces felony theft charges because the funds from the sales were deposited in his own account. Rumbelow's lawyer said that his client intended to turn the funds over the university once all the old instruments were sold (he now has done so) and enough funds had been raised for a new band building.

 

Monday, August 26, 2013 - 3:00am

A July letter to President Obama and Congress calling for steps to close the "innovation deficit" now includes a new signatory: Purdue University President Mitch Daniels. The letter was signed by scores of university presidents, and its emphasis on federal funding for research and technology made joining the push an easy call for most higher ed leaders. But faculty members at Purdue -- an institution whose academic strengths in the sciences mean its professors depend on federal support -- noted that Daniels didn't sign. In his pre-Purdue political career, Daniels was known as a budget hawk and he has repeatedly raised concerns about the size of the federal deficit. He explained that he didn't sign the letter because of "its complete omission of any recognition of the severe fiscal condition in which the nation finds itself."

Now, however, he has signed. He explained in a statement that he only recently learned that the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities -- the two groups that coordinated the July letter -- last year released a statement noting their broad concerns about the federal budget deficits. Said Daniels: "I regret that I was unaware of last year’s excellent letter. If it had been attached, restated or incorporated by reference, I would gladly have signed the more recent letter. Now that I have confirmed with the APLU president that last year’s stance remains in effect, I am in full support of the AAU and APLU efforts."

Monday, August 26, 2013 - 3:00am

The American Association of University Professors on Saturday released a statement strongly questioning President Obama's proposal to evaluate colleges and favor those with high graduation rates and low costs in the availability of Pell Grants and generous terms on student loans. "The solution to the current crisis in higher education, characterized by rising tuition and student debt, is not a report card based on poorly defined metrics," said the statement, by Rudy Fichtenbaum, president of the AAUP. "Albert Einstein was reported to have said, 'Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.' In his rush to measure the performance of higher education institutions the president should remember this maxim. The creation of so-called report cards based on graduation rates and earnings of graduates from colleges that serve diverse student populations will result in a race to the bottom, driving public universities and non-elite private universities to standardize their curricula to insure they get a passing grade. For millions of working class and middle class students, particularly students of color, the president’s plan will result in a decline in the quality of higher education, in the name of increasing graduation rates.If we were truly interested in increasing graduation rates, we would provide more funding for K-12 education to insure that students were better prepared for college. If we were truly interested in controlling or reducing tuition, we would increase public funding of higher education both at the state and federal level by taxing the rich, particularly the top 1 percent who have benefited disproportionately from government bailouts and have been the recipients of the lion’s share of income growth since the 1970s."

 

Friday, August 23, 2013 - 3:00am

The family of a Frostburg State University football player who died after sustaining a head injury during practice in 2011 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Washington Times reported. The lawsuit, which argues that Derek Sheely’s death was preventable and that coaches ordered players to lead with their heads in drills, also names Frostburg State’s head football coach, running backs coach and assistant athletic trainer. Filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court, the suit also says athletes who complained of concussion symptoms were called “gripers” and ordered to return to practice, after which they had to clean the field.

This is not the only head trauma-related lawsuit the NCAA faces. USA Today also reported this week that after a U.S. district court judge granted a stay in the case, a 2011 lawsuit filed against the NCAA by four former athletes seeking damages for the lasting effects of concussions may end in a settlement.
 

Friday, August 23, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Katharine Maus of the University of Virginia explores the 16th century view of property as revealed in the works William Shakespeare. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

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