Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 3, 2014

More California State University campuses are adopting or proposing "student success fees" of $200 to $500 per semester to add sections, counseling and other services that promote degree completion, The Los Angeles Times reported. The campuses say that they need the funds, noting that the relatively good budget year they are having doesn't come close to making up for the cuts of previous years. But students and others say that these fees are paying for expenses that tuition is supposed to cover, and that the fees run counter to pledges to the state about minimizing tuition increases.

 

March 3, 2014

Some faculty members are concerned that Bryan College, a Christian institution in Tennessee, is making its required statement of faith so specific in its Biblical literalism that it may be difficult for them to teach there, The Times Free Press reported.

Like many Christian colleges, Bryan requires faculty members to sign and abide by a statement of faith, which has said in part that "the origin of man was by fiat of God in the act of creation as related in the Book of Genesis; that he was created in the image of God; that he sinned and thereby incurred physical and spiritual death." That statement of faith has been broad enough that some faculty members have said they can believe in evolution and also sign the statement, arguing that they believe evolution was divinely inspired. But the Bryan board has adopted changes to make the statement more specific, and that's why some faculty members believe their beliefs are being declared unwelcome. The addition to the statement says: "We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve. They are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life forms."

Bryan College's anti-evolution stance dates to its founding. The college was founded in 1930 in honor of William Jennings Bryan, the lawyer who crusaded against evolution in the Scopes trial.

March 3, 2014

Columbia University is ending academic credit for internships, Newsweek reported. The move is designed to prod internship providers to pay students, as is generally required by federal labor law, even though many internships providers have not done so.

 

March 3, 2014

Four students at Boston University have been jailed over loud parties at their off-campus house, The Boston Globe reported. While police in many localities regularly shut down student parties, jail isn't typical. In this case, the students were cited for one party and given a warning that additional problems would be taken seriously. The party that sent the students to jail took place last month, and when authorities arrived at 1 a.m., students slammed the door to the house in their face, and locked it, while people (many of them not of legal drinking age) started jumping out of other doors and windows. When police made it inside, they found more than 1,000 beer cans.

 

March 3, 2014

On the heels of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s announcement last week that it was suing for-profit education giant ITT Educational Services for engaging in predatory lending practices, one Democratic senator is calling on the Department of Education to also investigate the company. Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat and longtime critic of for-profit colleges, on Friday sent a letter urging Education Secretary Arne Duncan “to investigate these troubling accusations and scrutinize ITT’s participation” in federal student aid programs.

Durbin also sent a letter to ITT’s accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, calling for the agency to “hold ITT accountable.”

Durbin previously sent similar letters to the Education Department in December asking for an investigation of Corinthian Colleges after a Huffington Post article said the company had hired graduates temporarily to artificially boost Corinthian's job placement rates. 

March 3, 2014

E. Gordon Gee plans to stay on as president of West Virginia University after both sides reversed course on what was supposed to be only a temporary posting. Gee, a 70-year-old, seven-time college president, became interim president of WVU in January after its president abruptly left for another job. The deal, as originally described publicly, was that Gee would stay only until the university found a new president and that he could not be a candidate.

But the presidential search committee passed a resolution Friday urging the university's board of governors to make Gee the permanent president. The board is expected to meet today in an emergency session to consider that plan. The state's higher education coordinating board would also need to sign off on the deal.

Board Chairman Jim Dailey told the Saturday Charleston Gazette-Mail he expected Gee to accept the job. "I was getting calls from, literally, all over the country from alumni and so forth," Dailey told the paper. "Everyone said, 'You need to keep him.'"

One member of the search committee, a professor, dissented from the process the committee used to decide to keep Gee, but told the Gazette-Mail he was a fan of Gee.

March 3, 2014

The Graduate Center of the City University of New York announced Friday that Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate and professor of economics and political science at Princeton University, would be joining the faculty. He will switch universities but keep writing his column in The New York Times. At a time that many leading public universities worry about losing talent to private institutions, Krugman's hire was announced just after that of Cathy Davidson, who is moving to the Graduate Center from Duke University.

March 3, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Daphne Hernandez, assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Houston, explains that while food-insecure families struggle to pay for healthy food, the roots of the problem go beyond economics. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

March 3, 2014

Less than a week after merger talks with another Christian college collapsed, Montreat College in North Carolina announced plan to go it alone. The college's board announced what it called an ambitious plan to revitalize the college. It announced it had received $6.4 million and was hoping to raise another $1.6 million for the effort, known as "All In," which would include a search to replace its interim president, renovate facilities, pay down debt, add new programs and research, and give more financial aid.

The board had been subject of much criticism from alumni and faculty and a no confidence vote from faculty after it announced plans last year to merge with Point University, another Christian college about a five-hour drive away in Georgia. The plan might ultimately have closed Montreat's main campus, which lies in a scenic mountain cove near Asheville.

The board's plan, announced Saturday, may go a long way to soothing those many concerns and made clear the college does not plan to merge.

"After evaluating all of those options, the board of trustees has sensed that God is not finished with Montreat College as an independent institution, and we believe Montreat has a bright future ahead of it," board Chairman Barney Wright said in a statement. 

Kevin C. Auman, chairman of the Faculty Executive Committee , said the board's actions helped address faculty concerns. "We were aware that it [was] unlikely that they would be able to address every issue in one meeting, [but] we got far more than we expected," he said in an email. "There is still work to do, but this is a strong step in the right direction."

March 3, 2014

Three Carleton College students were killed Friday, and two others were seriously injured, in a car accident, the college announced. The Star Tribune reported that the students were en route to an Ultimate Frisbee competition in California.

 

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