Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 14, 2013

Most of the discussions and lawsuits over concussions are coming from football players, but one former Samford University soccer player entered the fray last week, with a lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association arguing that the association didn’t do enough to educate athletes on the dangers of head trauma. Mary Shelton Wells’s athletic career ended in 2010 due to a brain injury sustained while playing soccer, WPMI Local 15 in Alabama reported.

The NCAA is facing multiple concussion lawsuits, some class action, filed by former football players. The National Football League recently agreed to pay $765 million to settle a lawsuit by former players who argued the NFL deliberately concealed the dangers of head trauma.

October 14, 2013

Some law school deans thought recent communication from U.S. News & World report indicated that the magazine's rankings were about to ignore the recommendations of the American Bar Association. It turns out that U.S. News is preserving that option, but hasn't decided what to do. At issue is one of the recommendations of a special ABA panel that last month proposed numerous changes in legal education. One of the focuses of the ABA panel was the widespread criticism that law school is too expensive and that, at many law schools, spending that forces up tuition rates may not be improving the student experience. The panel specifically cited the impact of U.S. News including spending (expenditures per student) in its methodology. "This encourages law schools to increase expenditures for purpose of affecting ranking, without reference to impact on value delivered or educational outcomes, and thus promotes continued increase in the price of law school education." The panel urged U.S. News to stop including the measure in its methodology.

As a result, some law deans were disturbed to get this year's information request from U.S. News, with the same expenditure questions as in years past. One unnamed dean wrote on the blog Brian Leiter's Law School Reports: "While the decision to rank schools according to how much they spend has always been corrosive, perverse, and misleading, it is particularly disturbing to see U.S. News continue to do so in light of the above and in light of the urgent need for law schools to hold down costs and limit expenditures in order to minimize student debt."

Robert Morse, who directs the rankings at U.S. News, via e-mail confirmed that the questions were being asked but he said it was inaccurate to say that the information will be used in the next rankings. But he said that the rankings operation "has not made a determination at this time if there will be any change in the upcoming best law schools  ranking methodology."

 

October 11, 2013

Tuition and fees at the private colleges that are members of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities increased by 3.6 percent for the 2013-14 academic year, according to a survey released by the association. At the same time, institutional student aid budgets at the colleges increased an average of 6.9 percent. NAICU said that this the fifth consecutive year that the average percentage increase in tuition in its survey was below the averages prior to the 2008 downturn in the economy.

 

October 11, 2013

The student who wrote the "Luring Your Rapebait" e-mail to his Georgia Institute of Technology fraternity brothers -- an e-mail that went viral, infuriating many people -- has issued an apology. The e-mail described techniques for getting women drunk at parties with the goal of taking advantage of their drunkenness. In the apology -- published in Georgia Tech's student newspaper -- the author says that his fraternity nickname is "4th Grade Rape Bait" because of "my youthful looks and the connotation of what may happen to someone like me in prison." While the author, identified only as Matthew, offers that explanation, he does not defend himself. "In retrospect, it was a nickname I should not have embraced but continuing to use the term was my fault. As a leader I should have put a stop to it in any reference," he wrote.

"Misogynistic behavior is everywhere online and unfortunately, my attempt to ridicule it in an immature and outrageous satire backfired terribly and in a manner I mistakenly underestimated," Matthew added. "In fact the 'locker room' banter that characterizes this e-mail was wrong in and of itself whether or not contained in a written communication. I am both embarrassed and ashamed at this dialogue and realize now that any sexual statement that is demeaning to women is never a joke."

 

October 11, 2013

The Modesto Junior College student who was ordered by campus security to stop handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution on Constitution Day last month is suing the Yosemite Community College District and Modesto officials in federal court. Robert Van Tuinen, an Army veteran, argues that administrators violated his First Amendment rights. In a video capturing the incident, an employee tells Van Tuinen he may only distribute his copies in the campus “free speech area,” and must also fill out the necessary paperwork before doing so. (But due to previous bookings he would have to wait at least three days.)

October 11, 2013

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday that sports at the military service academies will continue through the end of October despite the government shutdown, the Associated Press reported. The Pentagon had allowed for last weekend’s games to be played but it was unclear whether they would continue. Most funding for the competitions is coming from outside sources, not Congress.

October 11, 2013

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels has apologized for giving a speech this week at the fund-raiser for a conservative think tank in Minnesota. Daniels was the Republican governor of Indiana before becoming Purdue's president and he vowed to avoid partisan political activity in his new job. So some on campus were bothered by the appearance and an editorial in The Journal and Courier said that his Purdue role "will continue to be questioned and pulled down whenever he steps, however innocently, onto political turf." In a letter to the editor of the newspaper, Daniels stressed that the speech itself was not partisan. But he said that the editorial was correct, and that he should not have accepted the invitation, even if he didn't break any university rules in doing so. "[F]acts and rules aren’t the determining factor here. Perceptions, and understandable misperceptions, matter even more," he wrote. On reflection, this invitation should have fallen on that side of the line. I accept the validity of the criticism and will try to avoid similar judgment errors in the future."

 

October 11, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Lauren Gulbas of Dartmouth College explores the connection between cosmetic surgery, self esteem, and racial identity. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

October 11, 2013

Kamala D. Harris, California's attorney general, on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Corinthian Colleges, alleging that the for-profit chain targeted low-income students with false and predatory advertising. The suit alleges that Corinthian, which operates Everest, Heald and WyoTech Colleges, misled potential students about job placement rates. A Corinthian spokesman, in a written statement, said company officials had not had time to review the suit in detail. But the company plans to "vigorously" defend itself, he said.

October 11, 2013

Not long ago, Altius Education was a darling of the higher ed innovation world, having teamed up with the nonprofit Tiffin University to create Ivy Bridge College, which was held out as a potential model for public-private partnerships to drive college access and completion. Then Tiffin's accreditor intervened, questioning whether the privately held Altius held inappropriate control over key academic functions at Ivy Bridge that should have been in Tiffin's domain, and calling for the partnership to be shuttered.

On Thursday, Altius's ambitions not only of turning Ivy Bridge into a freestanding institution but also of creating other such partnerships appeared to have formally ended, with an announcement by Datamark that it was purchasing Altius's various technology platforms and taking on several dozen of its employees. Datamark, which provides enrollment marketing and other services to colleges and universities, said it would buy Altius's competency-based learning platform, known as Helix, as well as other technologies and invest $11 million in expanding the company's reach.

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