Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 22, 2013

The Grambling State University football players who boycotted their game Saturday said they are returning to practice and competition this week, but “have not forgotten the situation and how we’ve gotten here.” The athletes said in a statement obtained by USA Today that they made the decision after consulting with the former head coach Doug Williams, whose firing helped prompt the protest. The players were also revolting against dilapidated facilities, lack of team staff and resources, and excessive travel to games. Jim Bernhard, a Fortune 500 CEO in Baton Rouge, said he would "ensure" the university's football facilities are updated, the statement says. Administrators say they are trying to balance athletes’ concerns with a serious lack of funding at the historically black university. The Southwestern Athletic Conference may impose a fine on Grambling State over the forfeit.

October 22, 2013

The National Student Clearinghouse is the closest thing the United States has to a national student-level record system, which makes it an increasingly potent tool for policy makers and researchers hoping to understand how students move into and through higher education. But like all data sources, it has its limitations, and a paper published by the National Bureau for Economic Research aims to help those using the clearinghouse do so effectively.

The paper (abstract available here), written by scholars at the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, notes that the clearinghouse -- a nonprofit entity that had its start as a tool for tracking recipients of federal financial aid -- has transformed itself into a major source of studies produced by its own staff and a haven for researchers tapping into its data. But they point out as well that, like any data source, the clearinghouse has its flaws -- notably that there is substantial variation in how fully students are represented in certain sectors, states and population subgroups. "As research using NSC data becomes even more common, researchers need to be aware of the benefits and challenges of working with these data," the authors write.

October 22, 2013

Students at Kentucky State University are protesting the firing of Leslie Thomas as director of student life, The State Journal reported. Thomas says that she was fired because of her strong relationship with students. She noted that the university had recently eliminated two popular trips that she organized every year -- one a service trip to New Orleans and the other a black history tour. University officials said that they could not comment on a personnel matter.

 

October 22, 2013

The U.S. Department of Education has rescheduled the second session of its negotiations over possible new regulations to ensure that vocational programs are preparing students for gainful employment, according to a letter a department official sent to participants. The rule making session was postponed during the government shutdown. It is now scheduled for Nov. 18-20. Negotiators are seeking to find consensus on rules for vocational programs at community colleges and for-profit institutions.

October 22, 2013

William Peace University, an 800-student liberal arts college in North Carolina, announced Monday it had closed a controversial land deal that has drawn criticism of the university by already suspicious alumnae, including major donors. It plans to spend nearly $21 million on a shopping center and other property across the street from its campus. Of that, $10.75 million is coming from the university's $33 million endowment -- a third of the endowment, though less than the two-thirds some had suggested would be used for the deal.

The rest of the funding comes from a $10 million bank loan that is structured to put only the new property and not any of the university's existing assets on the line in the event of a default, said Billie Redmond, CEO of Trademark Properties, which brokered the deal for William Peace. Redmond said the vast majority of the shopping center is leased and generates a steady flow of income. The university also can use parcels it purchased for expansion. 

The land deal is only the latest in a series of controversies that involve nearly every aspect of Peace’s operations – the once all-women’s college began admitting men, changed its name, asked faculty to sign agreements giving away their rights to take the university to court, downsized and is attempting to grow its enrollment, according to local news media accounts.

October 21, 2013

Many minority faculty members at the University of California at Los Angeles feel that they encounter bias and insensitivity regularly, and that the university is not necessarily committed to resolving their concerns, says a report released by the university last week.  The report was prepared by Carlos Moreno, a former justice of the California Supreme Court, who was assisted by lawyers so that minority faculty members could discuss their concerns without fear of hurting their careers. The report says that  "we found widespread concern among faculty members that the racial climate at UCLA had deteriorated over time, and that the university’s policies and procedures are inadequate to respond to reports of incidents of bias and discrimination. Our investigation found that the relevant university policies were vague, the remedial procedures difficult to access, and from a practical standpoint, essentially nonexistent."

Gene D. Block, chancellor at UCLA, announced in response to the report the creation of a new position, a full-time discrimination officer, and he pledged further policies to make UCLA welcoming for all professors. "Our campus can and must do a better job of responding to faculty reports of racial and ethnic bias and discrimination and take steps to prevent such incidents from ever occurring," said Block in an e-mail message to the campus. "It is one thing to talk about our commitment to diversity and creating a welcoming campus; it is quite another to live up to those ideals. Rhetoric is no substitute for action. We must set an example for our students. We cannot tolerate bias, in any form, at UCLA. I sincerely regret any occasions in the past in which we have fallen short of our responsibility."

October 21, 2013

Authorities have charged Anthony Joseph Mastrippolito, a student at Palm Beach State College, with a series of phone threats to murder the dean of students, The Sun Sentinel reported. A police report cited more than a dozen calls that said things like "I'm going to murder you," and "You're dead. I'm going to kill you." Mastrippolito was reportedly angry over a trespass charge related to previous harassing calls. He could not be reached for comment as he is in jail.

October 21, 2013

Tuskegee University on Saturday announced the resignation, effective immediately, of President Gilbert L. Rochon. The announcement gave no reason for the departure of Rochon, who has been in office three years. Matthew Jenkins, a board member, will serve as interim president. Tuskegee referred questions to an outside public relations company, which declined to comment on the sudden change.

 

October 21, 2013

A 34,000-student university in Chile affiliated with Laureate Education, Inc. has received notification from the National Accreditation Commission that its institutional accreditation will not be renewed at the end of its current three-year term. The Universidad de las Américas plans to appeal the decision, which -- if it stands – would mean that new students would be ineligible for government loans or grants.

The university has not yet received the report from the accreditor indicating the reasons for the decision, said Matt Yale, a Laureate spokesman. He’s confident of the university’s chances for a successful appeal nonetheless. 

“We are very confident because this is a really great university with a world-class management team, commitment to student outcomes, and a track record of operating a very good university,” Yale said.

Laureate, a for-profit university system, has grown its overseas footprint rapidly in recent years, expanding to operate 78 institutions in 30 countries. It operates six higher education institutions in Chile, including three full-fledged universities.

Laureate is not the only multinational for-profit education operator to face accreditation woes in Chile. In 2012, the National Accreditation Commission rescinded its approval of the Universidad de Artes, Ciencias y Comunicación, which is operated by Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix.
 

October 21, 2013

Cricket -- a sport popular in Britain and the countries that were once ruled by Britain -- is growing on American campuses, The Boston Globe reported. The first American college championship of club teams took place in 2009, with five teams. Now there are 70 such teams. While most players come from countries such as India and Pakistan, where cricket remains very popular, some of those learning the game and embracing it are Americans.

 

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