Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, August 19, 2013 - 4:28am

A new study by HSBC compares what international students pay, in U.S. dollar equivalents, at the largest institutions in various countries. Using this method, Australia is the most expensive, with an average cost (including living expenses) of $38,516. The U.S. is the second most expensive, at $35,705, followed by Britain at $30,325. Of the countries examined, Germany was the least expensive, at $6,285.


Monday, August 19, 2013 - 3:00am

Three officials have been removed from their positions at St. Louis Community College's Meramec campus after a report faulted the college's handling of an assault on campus, and in particular to release of the man accused of the assault, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The man's release "resulted in an unnecessary threat to the campus from an individual who should have remained in custody rather than being allowed to roam free after the commission of a major felony,” the report said. It found  "a lack in leadership and management from key personnel at the district and campus levels."

Monday, August 19, 2013 - 3:00am

Evan Dobelle, who left the University of Hawaii's presidency amid criticism of his spending decisions, is facing questions about his expenses as president of Westfield State University, The Boston Globe reported. Westfield State's foundation closed his credit card account -- intended for modest expenses to help him raise money -- after he charged $8,000 for a four-night stay at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok and $883 in clothing at the men's clothing store Louis Boston. Other expenses receiving scrutiny were charged to the credit card of Dobelle's assistant. During 68 months as president, the Globe reported, Dobelle has traveled out of state 76 times. Sometimes, those trips combined university business and pleasure. For instance, he flew to San Francisco for the university and then went to Bohemian Grove, the male-only retreat that is popular among moguls.

Dobelle has acknowledged some mistakes in spending, but he has argued that many of the charges were designed to raise the profile of Westfield State and to attract either donors, or attention, or international students. He said, for example, that he would not have impressed Thai educators by staying someplace more modest than the Mandarin Oriental. He noted many projects that are booming at Westfield State, which he said is now "the hottest college in New England."


Friday, August 16, 2013 - 3:00am

A Minnesota jury has ordered Globe University, a for-profit institution, to pay $400,000 to Heidi Weber, who said she was fired for accusing the institution of using false and misleading job placement statistics, The Star Tribune reported. Weber sued under a Minnesota law designed to protect whistle-blowers. Globe said that she was dismissed for legitimate reasons.


Friday, August 16, 2013 - 4:32am

Pennsylvania's Clarion University, citing state budget cuts, on Thursday announced plans to dismantle the College of Education and to eliminate 40 jobs, 22 of them faculty positions, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Some of the education programs will be relocated and some of the savings will be used to strengthen departments such as nursing. Elizabeth MacDaniel, chair of the English department and president of the campus chapter of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, predicted this campus reaction: "People are going to be angry. It's going to be horrible."

Friday, August 16, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Stephen Mucher of Bard College explains the motivations behind the first teacher observations of the 19th century. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, August 16, 2013 - 4:34am

Jenny Sanford, who became nationally known when her then-husband and the then-governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, admitted to cheating on her, is interested in becoming president of the College of Charleston, The Post and Courier reported. The current president, George Benson, is stepping down next year. Sanford has never worked in academe, but she said that she has relevant skills from running her former husband's campaigns and following higher education issues when he was governor. She said higher education is in a period of "transformational change."


Friday, August 16, 2013 - 3:00am

A professor of English at the Virginia Military Institute is on paid leave indefinitely, following his refusal to work or quit, the Roanoke Times reported.

Kurt Ayau was one of seven professors who took issue last year with department leaders and affairs, including a new curriculum. Six have resigned or retired, but Ayau said the institute offered him a leave of absence for what he understood to be one year, and he took it to support himself as he looks for another job, according to the Times.

An institute spokesman said Ayau was on paid leave, but that the timeline was undetermined. Ayau’s salary is $59,642. The spokesman declined to comment on why Ayau was offered a leave of absence, citing personnel reasons. The institute’s Faculty Handbook says that extended leaves may be granted when “in the best interests of the faculty member and the Institute.”

Ayau did not return an e-mailed request for comment.

Friday, August 16, 2013 - 3:00am

Under pressure from officials at historically black colleges and other institutions that serve large numbers of students from low-income backgrounds, the U.S. Education Department has announced that it will weigh appeals that may allow more families to qualify for federal loans for parents, the Associated Press reported. Changes made in 2011 to the underwriting standards for PLUS loans led to a spike in denials for families that had taken on debt because of the economic downturn, and the changes disproportionately affected students at HBCUs. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), had urged the Education Department to reconsider the underwriting standards.

In a letter sent to the Fudge on Tuesday, department officials said they would review their definitions in negotiations over federal rules for loan programs set to begin next spring, and would in the short term consider appeals from those who had been denied PLUS loans.

Friday, August 16, 2013 - 3:00am

The presidents of 165 universities in July issued a joint letter calling on President Obama and Congress to adopt policies to promote research and to deal with an "innovation deficit" created by inadequate support for investments in science and technology. The letter -- organized by the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities -- was part of an effort by those organizations and many universities to encourage more support for federal research and technology programs. Some faculty members at Purdue University, which is strong in science and technology and where many programs rely on federal support, noticed that their president didn't sign the letter, The Journal and Courier reported. Mitch Daniels, the president, released a statement to the newspaper explaining why he didn't sign: "I have been and will continue to be an advocate of major federal investments in research, particularly basic research," Daniels said. "I will say nothing negative about this letter, but, like many other presidents, I abstained from signing it, in my case, because of its complete omission of any recognition of the severe fiscal condition in which the nation finds itself."


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