Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 3:00am

The number of college faculty members and administrators edged up by 2.6 percent in 2010, to nearly 3.9 million, with growth coming disproportionately at for-profit colleges and among part-time workers, according to a federal report Tuesday. The annual report examines staffing levels and salaries at postsecondary institutions that qualify to award federal financial aid, and the key findings of this year's report generally continue the trends of recent years. Of the roughly 100,000 gain in total employees employed by the colleges in 2010 over 2009, about 50,000 of them work part time (though part-time employees make up slightly more than a third of all postsecondary employees), and for-profit colleges added about 40,000 workers. The proportion of full-time faculty members who have tenure or are on the tenure track slipped by a full percentage point, to 62.7 percent from 63.7 in 2009.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 3:00am

The family of a donor to Johns Hopkins University is suing the university, claiming that administrators are violating the intent of a gift agreement made when Elizabeth Beall Banks sold a 138-acre farm to the university at a discounted price in 1989. The university plans to develop the land into a science park as part of an economic development plan created by Montgomery County, Md. While the deed limits the use of the property to “agricultural, academic, research and development, delivery of health and medical care and services, or related purposes only,” which a spokesman for the university said the institution is abiding by, the family claims that the university is developing the property too densely and for commercial purposes, violating the original agreement. The university has not formally responded to the suit.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 4:40am

The University of California at Davis plans to drop all charges against the students on whom it used pepper spray last week, and also will pay their medical bills. Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi made those announcements Tuesday night at a town hall meeting on campus, The Sacramento Bee reported. With calls growing for her resignation, Katehi is speaking out more about her views on what happened.

An Associated Press account of Tuesday's meeting said that Katehi said she barred the police from using force. "I explicitly directed the chief of police that violence should be avoided at all costs. It was the absolute last thing I ever wanted to happen," Katehi was quoted as saying. "Because encampments have long been prohibited by UC policy, I directed police only to take down the tents. My instructions were for no arrests and no police force."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 3:00am

Florida A&M University has called off all performances by its marching band, amid reports that one of its members who died over the weekend in Orlando was the victim of hazing, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Law enforcement officials said that they believed the death was hazing-related. Officials at Florida A&M said that they had received seven reports of hazing over the last decade.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Daniel Benjamin of Cornell University questions the role happiness plays in the decision making process. Find out more about the Academic Minute here. (For those of you addicted to the Academic Minute, we'll be publishing podcasts in the series Thursday and Friday, too, despite the holiday.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 3:00am

Karen Pletz, former president of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, was found dead early Tuesday in Florida, The Kansas City Star reported. The cause of death has not been released, but there were no signs of foul play. Pletz was a widely respected civic leader in Kansas City credited with promoting growth at the university. Her firing in 2009 stunned her many supporters. Last year, a federal grand jury indicted her on charges that she had embezzled more than $1.5 million from the university, engaged in money laundering, and falsified tax returns. She had denied wrongdoing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 4:25am

More developments on Penn State:

  • An article in The Wall Street Journal raises questions about the reputation of Joe Paterno for holding his football players to the highest of standards. The article details instances in which Paterno clashed with university officials who were trying to enforce conduct rules that apply to other students to football players as well. Paterno insisted that he -- not the regular authorities -- decide on athletes' punishment.
  • Sales of hats, shirts and other clothing with the Pennsylvania State University name are down about 40 percent compared to this time period last year, the Associated Press reported. "This is the first time I can recall ever seeing a decline of sales right out of the box,'' said Matt Powell, an analyst with SportsOneSource Group. "I have never seen anything this before. But we've never seen a scandal quite like this before.''
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 3:00am

The Center for American Progress released a report Monday that recommended a broader role for students on federal panels, including the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, and the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education.

The report, "Including More Student Voices In Higher Education Policymaking," noted that students' concerns have been widely broadcast through the Occupy movements' focus on student loan debt, but that many factors hold back student organizing, including a lack of institutional transparency, the growth of nontraditional students, and the lack of real on-campus power relative to administrators.

"Strong student voices in higher education policy could help to ensure that federal, state and institutional policy makers continue to direct their reforms toward the issues that matter most to students, including tuition prices, financial aid, and the quality of the courses they offer," the report's authors wrote.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 3:00am

Career Education Corporation on Monday disclosed that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools has asked the for-profit higher education provider to demonstrate the adequacy of "administrative practices and controls relative to the company's reporting of placement rates." A recent review by an outside law firm found that some of the company's 49 health education and art and design schools did not have sufficient documentation to back up job placements, and that 13 failed to meet the accreditor's placement rate requirement. Career Education's president and CEO, Gary E. McCullough, resigned shortly after that news broke.

The company will present to the accreditor next month on the discrepancy, and "continues to take corrective action," according to the disclosure to investors. The accreditor released a statement about the matter this month, saying: "We are currently conducting an internal review of our processes for evaluating placement rates, including a review of data collected from site visits and audits of Career Education Corporation from the last few years, to determine why those problems were not detected.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 3:00am

Clark University announced Monday that it will make the SAT or ACT optional for undergraduate admissions. Officials said that the decision followed a study by the faculty and the admissions office, which concluded that the university could make admissions decisions based on such factors as high school grades, rigor of the high school courses taken and extracurricular activities.



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