Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 22, 2014

The Broad Institute, a biomedical research center affiliated with Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is today announcing a $650 million gift to support research on mental health issues, The Boston Globe reported. The gift is from Ted Stanley, a business executive and philanthropist who became interested in mental health issues when his son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The son was successfully treated.


July 22, 2014

Colleges should be required to inform sexual assault survivors that nurse examiners, both on campus and in nearby communities, are available to them, two senators told the U.S. Department of Education Monday.

Senators Mark Udall, a Democrat from Colorado, and Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri believe that should be Missouri -sj, urged the department to include the requirement in the rules implementing the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act.I don't think that's quite right -- only Congress can write an act. i believe this is about regulations to carry out the act. -sj The department already proposes that colleges and universities be required to provide students and faculty with notification about other counseling, health, mental health, victim advocacy, and legal assistance. 

"This common-sense addition will strengthen the current proposed rules and increase awareness of resources that are already present on campus or in nearby communities," the senators wrote in a lettertighten by ending sentence here? -sj. "In the tragic event of a sexual assault, it is critical that our students know who they can turn to and where they can go — providing information about access to forensic nurses will help accomplish this important goal."

Sexual assault nurse examiners, also known as forensic nurses, are often among the first people that survivors speak to following a sexual assault, Udall and McCaskill said, and -- in addition to administering rape kits -- they are an important piece in encouraging victims to seek other services. "If readily available and adequately trained, forensic nurses can serve as a critical resource for those seeking justice and starting the healing process," the senators wrote.tighten by ending here? -sj

July 22, 2014

Christine Mordach, former head of financial aid at Merrimack College, is facing federal fraud charges, The Boston Business Journal reported. She allegedly promised students grants, but then tricked them into taking Perkins loans, and didn't provide the help she promised with loan repayment. Mordach's lawyer predicted "a speedy resolution of this issue," but did not elaborate. Authorities indicated that the college was a victim of the fraud.



July 22, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Brian Wansink, professor of marketing at Cornell University, discusses his survey of the health and general wellness of over 700 veterans of World War II. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


July 21, 2014

Over the weekend more information has come out about some of the researchers, faculty members and students who were on the Malaysian Airlines plane that was shot down over Ukraine. Here are links to obituaries or other information:

  • Joep Lange has been widely hailed as a leading AIDS researcher. He was headed to the 20th International AIDS Conference, in Australia. Lange was executive scientific director of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development.
  • Karlijn Keijzer, a Dutch citizen, was a doctoral student in chemistry at Indiana University at Bloomington.
  • Quinn Schansman, the only American citizen on the flight, was studying at the International Business School at Hogeschool van Amsterdam.
  • Three members of the Witteveen family, all with ties to Tilburg University, in the Netherlands, were on the flight. Killed were Willem Witteveen, professor of legal theory and rhetoric; his wife Lidwien Heerkes, who was formerly associated with the Tilburg School of Humanities; and their daughter, Marit Witteveen, a student at the Tilburg School of Humanities.
  • Andrei Anghel, a Canadian citizen, who was a student at Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy, in Romania.
  • Ithamar Avnon, an international student at Swinburne University of Technology, in Australia, was among those killed. The university said he was in the second year of a bachelor's program in business.




July 21, 2014

President Obama is expected to sign an executive order today that bars federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The executive order is not expected to exempt religious organizations, as some Christian colleges and other Christian organizations have sought, The New York Times reported. Other religious organizations have said that no exemption is needed -- and many gay rights groups encouraged the president to proceed without an exemption. Within higher education, much of the impact may be symbolic as the largest federal contractors tend to be research universities that, public or private, are secular institutions.


July 21, 2014

Valerie Macon has resigned as poet laureate of North Carolina, just a week after she was appointed by Governor Pat McCrory, The News & Observer reported. Macon's appointment drew widespread criticism from literary figures and others in North Carolina, many of whom suggested that their Republican governor was trying to get in a dig at poetry by appointing someone who was not qualified for the position. Macon is a state civil servant whose work has been self-published. Further, her website (since removed) claimed incorrectly that she had been a Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet, when in fact she had been in a program to be mentored by a Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet. Past poet laureates in North Carolina have tended to be poets with numerous acclaimed collections (published by presses) and long teaching careers. Among the more detailed critiques of Macon's appointment is this one, in Indy Week.

The governor issued a statement after Macon resigned saying that he was bothered by “the way some in the poetry community have expressed such hostility and condescension toward an individual who has great passion for poetry and our state.”

July 21, 2014

The board of directors that governs Division I member universities of the National Collegiate Athletic Association will soon vote on a new governance model, increasing the size of its board from 18 members to 24 and giving greater voting control to the five major athletic conferences. The new board would consist of five presidents from those major conferences: the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific 12, and Southeastern Conferences. It would also include five presidents from the remaining five Football Bowl Subdivision Conferences, five from the Football Championship Subdivision, and five from Division I institutions that don't have football teams. A student athlete, a faculty athletics representative, a campus senior woman athletics representative, and the chair of the Council -- the governing body in charge of the day-to-day legislative functions -- would round out the rest of the board.

The weighted voting totals of the Council gives 37.5 percent of the vote to the five major conferences, as well as a combined 37.5 percent to FCS and no-football conferences. FBS conferences would have 18.8 percent. Faculty representatives and student athletes would have 3.1 percent each.

“We will begin to focus on student-athlete welfare in ways they will feel as early as next year,” Michael Drake, president of Ohio State University and steering committee member, said in a statement.

At a Senate hearing earlier this month, Mark Emmert, the NCAA's president, told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation that Division I colleges were attempting to remake the decision-making process to give more control to the 65 largest revenue institutions, Emmert said, as they’re most likely to move forward on reforms that would benefit college athletes. Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat and the committee’s chairman, said he didn’t believe that the colleges that make the most money from athletes would be the ones most eager to change. “I am just very skeptical that the NCAA can ever live up to the lofty mission it constantly touts,” Rockefeller said at the hearing's start.

The Division I Board of Directors will vote on the model on August 7.

July 21, 2014

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has dropped a controversial name-and-likeness release from the "student-athlete statement" signed each year by Division I college athletes, USA Today reported.

The release is a central part of the high-profile class action filed by Ed O'Bannon, a former University of California at Los Angeles basketball player, as well as other lawsuits filed against the NCAA regarding the commercialized use of likenesses of college athletes. In 2009, the same year that O'Bannon filed his class action, Ryan Hart, a former starting quarterback at Rutgers University, filed a similar complaint. In May of that year, Sam Keller, a former starting quarterback at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, also filed a class action about the NCAA profiting off athletes' likenesses in a series of video games.

The same day that O'Bannon's lawsuit finally went to trial, the NCAA settled its case with Keller, thus avoiding a trial that was set for March. As part of the settlement, the NCAA agreed to make $20 million available to Division I football and men's basketball players at certain colleges whose teams were in the Electronic Arts video games. A week earlier, EA Sports agreed to pay $40 million in a separate settlement with O'Bannon. O'Bannon and the NCAA are still waiting on a federal judge's ruling in the class action.

July 21, 2014

The U.S. Department of Education said Friday that it will automatically reprocess the federal financial aid applications of tens of thousands of students whose aid eligibility was likely reduced because of a decimal place error. The problem came to light this month after some students and families filling out the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, incorrectly entered both dollars and cents into a box that was supposed to accept only whole-dollar values.

As a result, the agency said, the government’s computer system interpreted a student reporting an income of $5,000.19 as having an income of $500,019, which would likely reduce that student’s eligibility for need-based grants and loans.

Department officials said in guidance to colleges on Friday that they planned re-process the applications of the “fewer than 200,000 applicants” nationwide who they believe were affected by the problem. The department also said that on July 1 it reprogrammed its online FAFSA form to automatically drop any fractional dollar amounts that are erroneously entered into the system in order to prevent the problem from recurring. 


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