Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 26, 2013

New York State has sued Trump University for making false claims and operating as an unlicensed educational institution from 2005 to 2011, The New York Times reported. Trump University earlier changed its name to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative after the New York State Education Department said it was deceptive for the for-profit institution to call itself a university. The lawsuit announced Saturday says that the Donald Trump led organization encouraged people "to spend tens of thousands of dollars they couldn’t afford for lessons they never got." As an example of a false claim, the suit says that Donald Trump claimed in promotional materials that he selected instructors to teach a curriculum he devised. In reality, the state attorney general says, Trump didn't pick the instructors or create the curriculum. A lawyer for Trump said that the suit was politically motivated and that the vast majority of students were satisfied with their courses.

 

August 26, 2013

In another sign of tightening Chinese oversight of higher education, the government has barred a law professor -- Zhang Xuezhong of the East China University of Political Science -- from the classroom, the Associated Press reported. Zhang has been faulted by Chinese authorities for advocating that the country have a constitution under which the Communist Party would operate rather than having the constitution (as is currently the case) operate only within the rules of the party. Officials have said that Zhang's positions are unconstitutional.

August 26, 2013

An article in The New York Times explores the role of ESPN in college football and how the network has arguably become more influential than conferences, the National Collegiate Athletic Association or (not that there was much doubt) faculty members at various institutions. The article traces the network's role in picking match-ups, scheduling game times and encouraging trends such as games that are not on Saturday.

 

August 26, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Adam Siepel of Cornell University explains why humans and chimpanzees are drastically different despite sharing much of the same DNA. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

August 26, 2013

The board of California Lutheran University has approved a plan for the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary to become part of the university. The seminary, which would maintain its campus in Berkeley, has been free-standing. Both institutions are affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The plan still needs to be approved by the accreditor of the institutions, the Western Association of Colleges and Schools.

August 26, 2013

Robert Rumbelow resigned as director of the band at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign last week after officials determined that he sold $87,000 in old instruments of the university's on eBay and elsewhere, The Chicago Tribune reported. Rumbelow faces felony theft charges because the funds from the sales were deposited in his own account. Rumbelow's lawyer said that his client intended to turn the funds over the university once all the old instruments were sold (he now has done so) and enough funds had been raised for a new band building.

 

August 26, 2013

A July letter to President Obama and Congress calling for steps to close the "innovation deficit" now includes a new signatory: Purdue University President Mitch Daniels. The letter was signed by scores of university presidents, and its emphasis on federal funding for research and technology made joining the push an easy call for most higher ed leaders. But faculty members at Purdue -- an institution whose academic strengths in the sciences mean its professors depend on federal support -- noted that Daniels didn't sign. In his pre-Purdue political career, Daniels was known as a budget hawk and he has repeatedly raised concerns about the size of the federal deficit. He explained that he didn't sign the letter because of "its complete omission of any recognition of the severe fiscal condition in which the nation finds itself."

Now, however, he has signed. He explained in a statement that he only recently learned that the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities -- the two groups that coordinated the July letter -- last year released a statement noting their broad concerns about the federal budget deficits. Said Daniels: "I regret that I was unaware of last year’s excellent letter. If it had been attached, restated or incorporated by reference, I would gladly have signed the more recent letter. Now that I have confirmed with the APLU president that last year’s stance remains in effect, I am in full support of the AAU and APLU efforts."

August 26, 2013

The American Association of University Professors on Saturday released a statement strongly questioning President Obama's proposal to evaluate colleges and favor those with high graduation rates and low costs in the availability of Pell Grants and generous terms on student loans. "The solution to the current crisis in higher education, characterized by rising tuition and student debt, is not a report card based on poorly defined metrics," said the statement, by Rudy Fichtenbaum, president of the AAUP. "Albert Einstein was reported to have said, 'Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.' In his rush to measure the performance of higher education institutions the president should remember this maxim. The creation of so-called report cards based on graduation rates and earnings of graduates from colleges that serve diverse student populations will result in a race to the bottom, driving public universities and non-elite private universities to standardize their curricula to insure they get a passing grade. For millions of working class and middle class students, particularly students of color, the president’s plan will result in a decline in the quality of higher education, in the name of increasing graduation rates.If we were truly interested in increasing graduation rates, we would provide more funding for K-12 education to insure that students were better prepared for college. If we were truly interested in controlling or reducing tuition, we would increase public funding of higher education both at the state and federal level by taxing the rich, particularly the top 1 percent who have benefited disproportionately from government bailouts and have been the recipients of the lion’s share of income growth since the 1970s."

 

August 26, 2013

Indiana University at Bloomington spent weeks investigating -- and issued a reprimand over -- a tirade by Michelle Gardner, coach of the softball team, against her players, The Indianapolis Star reported. The star said she yelled at players one by one, shouting things like "we suck" and mocking players for saying they prayed, saying "God doesn't care if we win or lose. He has bigger things to worry about." Although the coach apologized the next day, many players were shaken. The coach told the newspaper in a statement: “I truly regret losing my composure and blowing up at my team and staff ... It was wrong and uncharacteristic of me to do so."

August 26, 2013

The board of Norfolk State University has fired President Tony Atwater, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Atwater has served for two years, and the board praised his efforts. But the historically black university is facing criticism from its accreditor and from state legislators on a range of issues, including the inability to complete an audit in the last two years. Previously, Atwater was president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a position he left amid disputes with the faculty over his management style.

 

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