Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 3:00am

City College of San Francisco, which has 90,000 students, has been told by its accreditor that it has eight months to demonstrate why it should stay open, and that it must "make preparations for closure," The San Francisco Chronicle reported. A loss of accreditation would make the college's students ineligible for federal aid, and would likely make it impossible for the college to function. College officials said that they are working hard to respond to the concerns. But a 66-page accreditation report obtained by the newspaper cites numerous, severe problems, including "leadership weaknesses at all levels," "failure to react to ongoing reduced funding," and spending all but 8 percent of the college's budget on salaries and benefits.

Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 3:00am

Governor Chris Gregoire, a Democrat, and some higher education leaders in Washington State are criticizing Western Washington University officials for agreeing to a faculty contract that grants raises of 5.25 percent this year and 4.25 percent each of the following two years, plus an increase of 15 percent in stipends for department chairs, The Seattle Times reported. "Your agreement seems to ignore the shared sacrifice that other state employees in general government and institutions of higher education have made during the Great Recession," Gregoire wrote in a letter to Bruce Shepard, the university's president. She added that Western's raises "will hurt current and future efforts to protect and increase funding for public higher education." A spokesman for the University of Washington, where faculty members have not received a raise since 2008, said that officials there were surprised that Western Washington agreed to salary increases. Shepard defended the raises, saying that they came only after administrators cut the budget where they could. The raises were needed, he said, to recruit and retain quality professors.

Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 3:00am

The World Bank has barred business transactions with two African subsidiaries of Oxford University Press, saying that these units engaged in corruption by providing inappropriate payments to government officials in Kenya and Tanzania, the BBC reported. Oxford University Press said that it is disciplining the employees involved.


Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Illinois announced Tuesday that it will pay $175,000 to Lisa Troyer to give up her tenured position in the psychology department at the Urbana-Champaign campus. A brief statement said that the university "has not initiated, and will not initiate, any disciplinary process." Troyer moved to the faculty position after quitting as chief of staff to Michael Hogan, who had a brief and controversial tenure as president of the university system. Faculty members believed that she was sending anonymous messages to faculty discussion groups, urging professors to take positions backing Hogan. An outside investigation by the university found that the messages came from Troyer's laptop at a time that she had possession of the laptop, and that there was no evidence of hacking. Troyer's lawyer sent reporters an e-mail Tuesday quoting her as saying: "I have always stated that I never sent any anonymous emails, and the investigation report never concluded that I did."


Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 3:00am

Feniosky Peña-Mora, dean of Columbia University's engineering college, has resigned amid widespread faculty criticism of his performance, The New York Times reported. Peña-Mora pushed to expand the engineering college, but faced a revolt from professors who said he wasn't paying enough attention to preserving the quality of existing programs or of keeping commitments he made to them. Some minority leaders have said that the criticism is racially based (Peña-Mora was born in the Dominican Republic), and Al Sharpton is planning a rally for him in September. Two other high ranking minority administrators have left their positions at Columbia in recent years, but university officials have said that the departures are unrelated.

Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Kurt Rotthoff of Seton Hall University tests claims about the economic benefit of investing in large sports arenas and stadiums. Learn more about the Academic Minute here. And since you may have missed yesterday's podcast, in which Colby College's David Freidenreich examines the historical meaning of dietary restrictions within the world's major monotheistic religions, here's a link.

Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 3:00am

A government committee in Israel on Wednesday blocked university status for the Ariel University Center, an Israeli academic institution located in the West Bank, Haaretz reported. The panel said that the center should maintain its current status, which is short of a full university, pending a full review in the next year. Many Israeli academics had expected university status to be awarded, and Ariel is strongly supported by Israelis who favor settlement in the West Bank. But Israeli academics -- professors and presidents alike -- strongly opposed university status. The presidents of existing universities argued that the country doesn't have enough money for its existing universities, and shouldn't create a new one. Many professors also said that making Ariel into a university would inject higher education into the debate about the future of Palestinian territories in a way that would be unhelpful for the peace process and for higher education.


Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 3:00am

Pedro Segarra, the mayor of Hartford, is criticizing the way people responded to a March assault on a Trinity College student, saying that many students and others inappropriately assumed that the attackers must be residents of a low-income neighborhood near the college, the Associated Press reported. The student who was attacked and others with him said at the time that the attackers were "Spanish," hundreds of students attended a rally demanding better security, and college officials said that the assailants were not students. But the police are now investigating the possibility that the student was assaulted by Trinity students. "People should not make presuppositions before they have facts available to them to be able to draw a conclusion," Segarra said in an interview. "All people, whether it's the campus administration or whether it's the city, whether it's the community, people need to be more astute, not quick to pass judgment."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 3:00am

The Institute for Higher Education Policy has devised a new classification system to measure the performance and characteristics of for-profit colleges and universities. The framework is an attempt to look at for-profits in a less monolithic way, said Michelle Asha Cooper, the institute's president, and also to be "more outcomes-specific" when tracking the sector. One key measure is a look at markets where for-profits have expanded their operations, and the relative affluence of those markets. Parts of California, for example, have seen rapid growth, according to the system's accompanying report.

The target audience for the framework is lawmakers, Cooper said, adding that it could be used to help inform state-level policies. However, Cooper said findings gleaned from the system are likely to be complex and difficult to generalize. "It doesn't put institutions in neat little buckets," she said.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 4:25am

In March, hundreds of students at Central Connecticut State University held a rally to back Alexandra Pennell, a student who told the crowd that she had been receiving notes in her dormitory room attacking her for being a lesbian. Now Pennell has been expelled from the university and faces numerous criminal charges that she faked the notes, The Hartford Courant reported. Police who were investigating Pennell's allegations installed (with her knowledge) a camera to try to identify who was leaving the notes. Twice the camera was turned off, and during one of those times, a note arrived. Authorities then installed another camera in a hall closet and recorded Pennell leaving the notes herself. Her lawyer declined to comment.



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