Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 6, 2013

The Office of Scholarly Communication at Harvard University has issued a strongly worded statement criticizing the recent controversial push by the American Historical Association to allow new Ph.D.s to embargo their dissertations instead of making them available in university open access depositories. The AHA has said that making the dissertations available could hurt the chances of young scholars of landing book contracts, which they need to obtain tenure. But the Harvard statement said that the AHA has provided "no evidence" to support this view. Further, the Harvard statement noted a recent blog post by Harvard University Press suggesting that making dissertations available online may increase the odds of their authors finding a publisher.

August 6, 2013

The Lumina Foundation is putting $2.3 million behind a growing effort to reduce the regulatory burden on institutions that offer online courses to students across state lines, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

Four regional commissions, including WICHE, and a number of other higher education officials want distance ed programs to be regulated by the state where they are based instead of by every state where they operate, a plan some hope will solve the longstanding, knotty problem of regulating cross-state institutions. Existing regulations requiring online programs to register in each state where they have students are simply being ignored

Lumina is funding a voluntary solution, which mirrors recommendations from a report issued in April. The so-called State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, or SARA, would create a national series of reciprocity agreements. States would be responsible for regulating distance ed institutions based in their states. Other states would rely on that home state's work. Distance ed providers, including traditional universities and for-profit providers, could expect a decrease in their paperwork and required fees. SARA would require states across the country to change their laws to accommodate the new regulatory framework.

The head of the New England Board of Higher Education said SARA is a workable solution.

"This agreement provides a timely and voluntary means by which state authorizers and postsecondary institutions nationwide can collaborate to address key challenges, including the ongoing profusion of online learning, the misalignment of state policy requirements, and the need to expand online access and program quality," Michael K. Thomas, NEBHE’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

August 6, 2013

Minority faculty members at community colleges feel marginalized and "subordinated" to white faculty members, according to new research from the University of California at Riverside. Despite these frustrations, minority faculty members are deeply committed to the missions of their institutions and to their students, the study found. Researchers based their findings on interviews with faculty members at four community colleges in California. The report calls on community colleges to hire more minority faculty members. The study notes that while more than half of the students at community colleges in California are from under-represented minority groups, only 30 percent of faculty members are from under-represented minority groups.

 

August 6, 2013

Kaplan Inc., now makes up a larger portion of the Washington Post Company, which Monday announced the sale of The Washington Post for $250 million to Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com. Kaplan -- which includes Kaplan University, a test preparation division and other affiliates -- brought in $548 million of the Washington Post Company's $1 billion in revenue for the second quarter of this year, according to a corporate filing. While Kaplan's revenue was down slightly compared to last year, its operating revenue improved. Revenue for the newspaper division, which has been battered by circulation declines, was $138 million for the quarter. Its operating loss for the first six months of 2013 was $49 million.

August 6, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Ricardo Ainslie of the University of Texas at Austin explores the social and economic factors behind recent violence in a Mexican border town. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 6, 2013

A U.S. Senate panel last weekend passed a rider to the defense appropriations bill that would count federal spending on tuition assistance for members of the military and their spouses toward a threshold that requires for-profit colleges to receive less than 90 percent of their revenue from federal sources. Military tuition spending, as well as funds from the Post 9/11 GI Bill, currently do not count as federal money under the so-call "90/10" rule. Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and critic of the for-profit sector, introduced the legislation, which also prohibits for-profits from spending money from military tuition assistance on marketing or advertising.

August 6, 2013

Howard University announced a severalfold expansion of its online offerings on Monday. It plans to offer about 25 online or hybrid programs over the next several years, an increase in online activity over the handful of online programs it offers now.

Howard Provost Wayne Frederick said the new online programs would be for undergraduate and graduate students. He said the arrangement was part of an effort to make Howard a more contemporary university and allow the university to expand its nontraditional enrollment and add to its revenue. Frederick said Howard was interested in reaching students in African and Caribbean countries with its fully online offerings, though the pricing structure of the courses has yet to be determined. The university wants to expand its on-campus capacity by using the online classes to help "flip" the classroom. 

The announcement may be particularly significant because historically black colleges and universities, such as Howard, have a reputation for moving their programs online at a slower pace than other universities, for a variety of reasons. “I think over all, it’s a space where students of color and providers of education to students of color are looking very closely because it does represent a contemporary movement in higher education,” Frederick said 

August 5, 2013

A North Carolina judge has issued an injunction to block a new state law ordering the removal of four trustees from the board of Central Carolina Community College, The News & Observer reported. The law orders the removal of all four trustees appointed by a local school board, and bars those trustees from running again. The new law does not affect those trustees appointed by a county board of commissioners. The school board is controlled by Democrats, as are its appointees. The county board is controlled by Republicans, as are its appointees, and the state legislator who pushed the bill. A suit challenging the law charges that it is arbitrary, and that it is not the role of the state to remove community college trustees based on their party identification. Mike Stone, the state representative who sponsored the bill, said it was "totally legit."

 

August 5, 2013

Citing losses of approximately $7 million, Ave Maria University, in Florida, has sold its branch campus in Nicaragua, the Naples Daily News reported. The Nicaragua campus has been sold to the Fort Lauderdale-based Keiser University.

August 5, 2013

An article in The New York Times provides an overview of the new Football Performance Center at the University of Oregon. Among the features noted by the Times: rugs woven in Nepal, couches made in Italy, a weight room featuring a floor of Brazilian hardwood and a barbershop where utensils are from Milan. The center was originally projected to cost $68 million, but the Times reporter found that to be "conservative" based on a tour. The university claims not to know the full cost. Donations from Phil Knight, a founder of Nike, paid for the facility (which has Nike-themed features). University officials said that they were proud to be associated with Nike. "We are the University of Nike,” said Jeff Hawkins, senior associate athletic director of football administration and operations. "We embrace it. We tell that to our recruits."

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