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."

 

 
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Heather Mattila of Wellesley College reveals how the health of a bee colony is related to the sexual behavior of the queen. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Birmingham, in Britain, has withdrawn a job advertisement seeking people to be unpaid research assistants, Times Higher Education reported. Birmingham withdrew the ad after the university was criticized for not paying people in the position. Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, the primary faculty union in Britain, said that not paying researchers “undermines the principles of equal pay and is discriminatory."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 3:00am

A new poll of 1,000 adults -- released by Widmeyer Communications -- has mixed results for those in higher education. About 60 percent of the 1,000 adults surveyed said they believed college was a good investment, with only 12 percent disagreeing, and the rest saying they didn't know. But the poll found Americans split on whether college is as valuable today as it was 20 years ago, with 46 percent agreeing, and 41 percent disagreeing -- despite countless statements from educators that college is more necessary today than at previous points in American history.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 3:00am

All of the sports except one that were slated for elimination at the University of Maryland at College Park were officially terminated Monday, after seven of eight failed to reach the necessary fund-raising goals to stay alive. But men’s outdoor track and field still must meet “a number of other benchmarks” to keep the sport on the books, the athletic department said in a statement. The university said in November it would cut a third of its sports teams to help mitigate a budget deficit that last year had the athletic department borrowing more than $1 million from the institution. The teams that will not return are men’s cross country, women’s outdoor track, men’s and women’s outdoor track, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis, women’s acrobatics and tumbling, and women’s water polo.

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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