Higher Education Quick Takes
Holden Thorp, the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says that in his last year in the position, major reforms will be announced for athletics at the institution, placing "academics first," The News & Observer reported. Thorp, after facing numerous scandals involving athletic programs, recently announced plans to step down. And he told the newspaper that one reason he did so was that the changes ahead would be so difficult. He said that admissions standards for athletes would be toughened, and that the number of exceptions to admissions standards would be reduced. In the last five years, 53 football players at UNC have been admitted under such exceptions.
Almost one in five households owed student loan debt in 2010, according to a new analysis from the Pew Research Center. The 19 percent total represents a significant increase from the level just three years prior (and before the start of the recession), when the figure was 15 percent. As recently as 1989, the figure was only 9 percent. Among households headed by someone younger than 35 in 2010, the rate was 40 percent.
Harvard University's endowment is down about $1 billion in the 12 months through June, Bloomberg reported. The fund, still the largest university endowment in the world, ended up at $30.7 billion, down about 0.05 percent. Harvard, like many other universities, saw major losses the year that the recession started, but many other universities have been posting gains more recently. Harvard officials said that their losses were due to investments in publicly traded non-U.S. companies and in "emerging market" shares.
Administrators at Bryan College, a Christian college in Tennessee, tried to stop the student newspaper from publishing an article about an assistant professor's arrest in an FBI sting. The assistant professor was accused of trying to meet underaged girls at a gas station. The editor of the weekly newspaper, The Triangle, published the article himself, posting copies in public spaces at the college, after the president asked him not to print it, he said in a note attached to the article. A spokesman for the college told the Chattanooga Times-Free Press that administrators didn't want the story published because they couldn't verify its facts.
City College of San Francisco is planning today to unveil a series of reforms that officials hope will balance its budget and allow it to hold on to accreditation, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Among the reforms: forcing students who don't pay their tuition to do so, eliminating many "enrichment" classes to shift the curricular focus to courses that allow students to earn degrees or transfer, eliminating paid sabbaticals, increasing the workload of clerical staff members from 37.5 to 40 hours a week and across-the-board salary cuts of 1 percent.
The 21 students and recent graduates who sued the University of California at Davis after they were pepper-sprayed by police at close range during a nonviolent Occupy protest last fall will receive a $1 million settlement, they announced Wednesday. The class action lawsuit targeted Chancellor Linda Katehi, UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza, and John Pike – the officer seen using pepper spray and who no longer works at Davis – among other administrators and police. The Davis regents approved the terms Sept. 13 and a federal judge is expected to approve the settlement agreement, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California said in a statement.
The ACLU will also receive $20,000 from the settlement and will work with the university to develop new student demonstration and crowd management policies. And $100,000 will be set aside for students and alumni who were pepper-sprayed or arrested but were not named plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Katehi announced just a couple of days after the Nov. 20 incident that the university would drop all charges against the students who were pepper-sprayed and pay their medical bills. The district attorney’s office in Yolo County last week announced there would be no criminal charges filed against the UC Davis police officers.
The American Institutes of Research, the new home of the Delta Cost Project, released a report Tuesday detailing trends in college and university revenues from 2000-2010, the first of a series of four weekly reports about where colleges get money and how they spend it.
Because the data the reports are based on are two years old, many of the trends described in Wednesday's report will be familiar. Among the noteworthy findings in the report were that state appropriations have continued to decline over the decade; that per-student revenue at community colleges in 2010 was less than it was a decade ago; that net tuition revenue -- the amount colleges make from tuition after aid is subtracted -- at private institutions did not grow significantly between 2009 and 2010; and that tuition revenue exceeded state appropriations at public doctoral and masters institutions. The report also found that, in contrast to previous years, sticker prices at four-year public universities increased faster than gross tuition revenue. "This suggests that the practice of using other tuition revenue -- in particular from out-of-state students -- to mitigate tuition price increases for in-state students was no longer tenable in 2010," the report states.
The University of Notre Dame has invited President Obama and also Mitt Romney to speak on campus during the presidential election campaign. The university's announcement of the invitation noted that Notre Dame has a tradition of inviting presidential candidates to appear, and that many have done so. The university also has a tradition of inviting presidents to deliver commencement addresses, and when Obama did so in 2009, there was a huge uproar from some Roman Catholic and anti-abortion organizations that objected to such an honor going to someone who supports abortion rights. An official of the Pro-Life Action League told The Indianapolis Star that the organization didn't object this time, since Romney also received an invitation. The Cardinal Newman Society is criticizing the new Obama invitation -- and also expressing concerns about a possible Romney appearance, noting that Romney has expressed support for embryonic stem cell research.
Colorado Technical University improperly awarded financial aid dollars to dozens of students, the U.S. Education Department's inspector general said in an audit this month. The audit, whose findings were challenged by the for-profit college, a unit of Career Education Corp., recommended that the university be required to reimburse the government for $173,000 in improper payments and to examine the records of thousands of other students in its CTU Online unit to see if similar improprieties occurred.