Higher Education Quick Takes
The State Higher Education Executive Officers, in an open letter Thursday, laid out a suggested agenda for the next presidential administration (whether President Obama or Mitt Romney) in keeping with many of higher education's requests. The next administration, wrote Paul Lingenfelter, the group's president, should stay focused on increasing the number of Americans with college degrees and keeping college affordable, supporting research while making it more efficient, and facilitate cooperation between higher education and elementary and secondary education. The letter also highlighted the role state funding cuts have played in tuition growth, but didn't suggest that the federal government should do anything (such as maintenance-of-effort provisions in legislation) to reverse the trend.
WASHINGTON -- A National Collegiate Athletic Association committee charged with finding ways to address campus violence and prevention as it relates to athletes has a clearer idea of how it might do so after a two-day think tank here wrapped up Thursday. While the committee won't formulate any recommendations until its meeting at the end of this month (at the soonest), and won't present those until the Division I Board of Directors meets in January, the NCAA staff, athletics administrators and university officials at the think tank discussed the importance of cross-campus collaboration in violence prevention, and the need to identify best practices and institutional models that are effective in preventing victimization.
Reports of athletes involved in "acts of violence" (and other cases that went unreported in the media) prompted the NCAA to address this issue, said Deborah Wilson, chair of the NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct and associate athletic director at George Mason University. But no specific cases triggered the initiative, she said.
"This is a huge problem; it's not just an athletic problem, it's really a societal problem, and it's coming onto our campuses and into our athletics departments," Wilson said in an interview Friday. "We want to be very mindful, be respectful and very caring about the true costs to the victims of these incidents. This is not an issue that athletics can address by itself."
Faculty leaders at the University of Kentucky issued a letter Thursday to President Eli Capilouto charging that he has created a "false crisis" to justify budget shifts, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. The letter acknowledges that the state has cut appropriations, but argues that only $20 million of a $43 million budget deficit can be attributed to those cuts. The rest of the cuts -- which have led to 140 layoffs -- were necessary because of the administration's budget priorities, the faculty letter said. Capilouto told the newspaper that he welcomes "constructive feedback."
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter on Thursday appointed himself and several aides to the board of the Community College of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The board has not previously had a mayor among its members. "What's at work here very simply is that Mayor Nutter has been, from the start of his term as mayor, deeply concerned about and invested in the issues of education and job training and workforce development," a spokesman for the mayor said. "At the nexus, really, of all those issues is Community College of Philadelphia."
A survey of admissions officers by Kaplan Test Prep has found that they are increasingly likely to find on social media material that may hurt some applicants' chances of admission. Only a minority of admissions officers say that they consult Google or Facebook on applicants. But the percentage of admissions officers who reported that something they found there had negatively affected an applicant's chances of admission increased in the last year from 12 percent to 35 percent. Some of the material that the admissions officers found: essay plagiarism, vulgarities in blogs, alcohol consumption in photographs and "illegal activities."
In the first presidential debate, held at the University of Denver on Wednesday night, Republican nominee Mitt Romney said he wouldn't cut federal spending on education, and that he expects spending on the Pell Grant to continue to grow. While the 90-minute debate was peppered with references to education, including higher education, Romney's remarks were the only new policy statements on how the next administration (of either party) might deal with colleges and universities.
But given Romney's support for tough domestic spending cuts, and a consensus even among supporters of the Pell Grant that the program's growth must be contained, the statement was something of a surprise. Obama argued that his challenger's math didn't add up — that Romney couldn't cut both taxes and the deficit and also protect his budget priorities.
Community colleges also got some airtime during the debate, as President Obama praised them as a source for job training programs and Romney vowed to streamline those programs. But the two candidates largely stuck to older campaign themes on higher education issues, including Obama citing ending bank-based student loan program as an accomplishment of his administration.
Ontario Wooden, a dean at North Carolina Central University, has been arrested and charged with assaulting a colleague, The Durham Herald-Sun reported. The arrest warrant for Wooden said that he "unlawfully and willfully" assaulted a woman (an unnamed employee at the university) "by grabbing her forearm and shoving her against a cabinet, causing scratches and bruises on the forearm and upper left shoulder." The dean was released on bond, and the university declined to comment on the arrest.
Controversial research on hydraulic fracking has ended at Pennsylvania State University, Bloomberg reported. Many have criticized the research because of its support by a pro-fracking research group, and questions about whether there was sufficient disclosure of that tie. The faculty member who did the original research has left the university, and now there is not any faculty member willing to do the research, so the group cannot continue to fund the project at the university.