Higher Education Quick Takes
The U.S. Justice Department announced last week that it is joining a whistle-blower lawsuit against ATI Enterprises Inc., which owns a chain of for-profit career colleges in Texas. State authorities have already revoked the licenses for some of the programs to operate. The government's complaint alleges that ATI misrepresented job placement statistics in order to keep state approval in place.
Further, the complaint states that that "ATI employees at the three campuses knowingly enrolled students who were ineligible because they did not have high school diplomas or recognized equivalents; falsified high school diplomas, including five Dallas Independent School District diplomas for students who later defaulted on their federal student loans; fraudulently kept students enrolled even though they should have been dropped because they had poor grades or attendance; and made knowing misrepresentations to students about their future employability. The alleged misrepresentations included telling students that a criminal record would not prevent them from getting jobs in their fields of study, quoting higher salaries than the students would be likely to earn and reporting inflated job placement statistics both to the students and the Texas Workforce Commission."
ATI officials could not be reached for comment.
Chinese universities are attracting more foreign students for degree programs, not just study abroad programs for a semester or year, China Daily reported. This year, Peking University has 1,500 new international students -- 900 of whom have enrolled in degree programs.
Russian legislators are considering and are expected to approve legislation that would shrink the number of universities, The Moscow Times reported. The idea behind the shift is for the nation to emerge with stronger universities that might fare well in international rankings. The University Professors Union has criticized the bill for not providing a way to increase faculty salaries.
The University of Central Oklahoma has settled a lawsuit by 12 former students and employees, who charged the former debate coach with harassment and retaliation, the Associated Press reported. The lawsuit claimed that the former coach -- Eric Marlow -- threatened to take a scholarship away from a student if she didn't have sex with him, and that he sent threatening text messages. A lawyer for Marlow declined to comment except to confirm that the suit has been resolved. Details of the settlement were not released.
The American Political Science Association annual meeting should have been going strong today, but was called off because Hurricane Isaac hit the location, New Orleans. Some political scientists will not be deterred, however, from sharing their papers. Some are using the meeting's #APSA2012 hashtag to do so, while others are using a new hashtag, #VirtualAPSA2012. Still others are planning to use Google + "hangout" features to share and discuss papers. The Johns Hopkins University Press, which would have been in the exhibit hall of the meeting, created a virtual book exhibit.
The top two leaders of the agriculture college at the University of California at Davis (an institution long known for its agriculture programs) have resigned, The Sacramento Bee reported. Neal Van Alfen, the dean, and James D. MacDonald, executive associate dean, quit after Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi started a search for a new dean with two years left in Van Alfen's term as dean.
A T-shirt produced for Ohio State University football fans -- with a reference to arch-rival the University of Michigan and the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Pennsylvania State University -- is causing much outrage, USA Today reported. The shirt says: "I'd rather shower at Penn State than cheer for the Wolverines." Similar T-shirts have appeared with other university rivalries referenced. Karen Days, president of the Center for Family Safety and Healing,in Columbus, Ohio said: "I was so encouraged by the support of victims and outcry. We get so far ahead, and then something like this happens. It's almost one of those times when you think, 'When are we really ever going to change the culture?'"
Harvard University is investigating about 125 students -- nearly 2 percent of all undergraduates -- who are suspected of cheating on a take-home final during the spring semester, The Boston Globe reported Thursday. The students, who will appear before the college’s disciplinary board over the coming weeks, seem to have copied each other’s work, the dean of undergraduate education said. Those found guilty could face up to a one-year suspension. The dean would not comment on whether students who had already graduated would have their degrees revoked but he did tell the Globe, “this is something we take really, really seriously.” Harvard administrators said they are considering new ways to educate students about cheating and academic ethics. While the university has no honor code, the Globe noted, its official handbook says students should “assume that collaboration in the completion of assignments is prohibited unless explicitly permitted by the instructor.”
Richard C. Levin announced Thursday that he will step down as president of Yale University at the end of the current academic year, at which point he will have served in that role for 20 years. He is the longest serving president in the Ivy League and in the Association of American Universities. His tenure saw significant fund-raising gains, major renovations and expansions to Yale's campus and a much improved relationship with New Haven (which had seen considerable tensions prior to Levin's presidency). The Yale announcement details these and other accomplishments.
Under Levin, Yale stuck to its policy of opposing graduate student unions, and the administration faced criticism from union advocates. Levin also strongly backed a new Yale effort to open, together with the National University of Singapore, a liberal arts college in Singapore. Many faculty members have criticized the idea (which is going forward), raising questions about human rights in Singapore and whether faculty members at Yale were given an appropriate role in deciding whether to go ahead with the project.