Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 8, 2013

More than 1,000 people rallied on the Lehigh University campus to protest vandalism found at the multicultural dorm Wednesday night, Lehigh Valley Live reported. Early Wednesday morning, someone threw eggs at the residence hall and spray-painted derogatory terms on and around the buildings. The rally was led by a student group calling itself From Beneath the Rug, which formed this year to "represent and fight for marginalized groups on campus and people who feel like their voices aren't and should be heard," one member said.

November 8, 2013

A new poll by National Journal and the College Board has found that non-white adults in the United States are more likely than white adults to view a four-year college degree as a "ticket to success." The percentage of adults, by racial and ethnic group, who believe this is:

  • White: 47 percent
  • Black: 55 percent
  • Hispanic: 70 percent
  • Asian: 61 percent

Across racial and ethnic lines, women are more likely than are men to believe that statement (56 percent vs. 47 percent). And while 64 percent of Democrats agree with the statement, only 40 percent of Republicans do.

 

November 8, 2013

Florida Atlantic University football coach Carl Pelini, who resigned last week after his athletic director approached him about allegedly using an "illegal drug," says he never used drugs and rather was forced out for failing to supervise his staff. In a letter to the university president, trustees and general counsel, obtained by Deadspin, Pelini retracted his resignation and said he's seeking reinstatement. Sworn affidavits obtained through a public records request show an assistant coach said he personally saw Pelini use marijuana and cocaine, and Athletic Director Patrick Chun apparently possesses a text message Pelini sent to a friend in which he allegedly "admitted he uses drugs on occasion."

November 8, 2013

David R. Smith, his compensation under investigation, is resigning as president of the State University of New York's Upstate Medical University, The Syracuse Post-Standard reported. SUNY placed Smith on leave this week to review compensation issues that were later reported to involve unauthorized payments he was receiving from two companies. The Albany Times-Union reported that the payments were discovered when a search firm was vetting Smith for the presidency of Pennsylvania State University. In a statement, Smith said he would cooperate with the inquiries and that he was resigning his position "to avoid further distraction for the university from its important mission."

 

November 7, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, John Broich of Case Western Reserve University explores the contentious history of the municipal water supply. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

November 7, 2013

Officials at the University of Maryland at College Park knew that many fans would react its move to the Big Ten "emotionally and negatively," so the university planned a public relations campaign to win them over, according to documents obtained by The Baltimore Sun. Many fans were bothered by the loss of long-time regional rivalries, among other issues. Maryland's response was to "plant positive comments into fan message boards," the article said. Email messages exchanged among university officials talked about seeing all the negative reaction and working to change attitudes. One official talked of plans to "engage professional assistance in helping to drop positive messages into the blogs, comments and message board sites. I will arrange for this service today."


 

November 7, 2013

A paperwork snafu following the merger of two Georgia colleges may have contributed to an 8 percent enrollment decline, according to officials at Middle Georgia State College.

Middle Georgia State – the combination of Macon State College and Middle Georgia College – is the product of a round of mergers pushed by the University System of Georgia. When the first class of students to attend the merged college used the Free Application for Federal Student Aid this year, the online application presented them with these two choices: "Middle Georgia College, Cochran, GA" and "Middle Georgia State College, Macon Cam, Macon, GA.” Students who picked the first received their financial aid normally. Students who picked the second choice didn’t because the identifier was tied to an old school code.

Sheri Rowland, the head of enrollment management at Middle Georgia State, said the problem and resulting delays in offering aid awards caused some students and families to believe the college was providing poor customer service. That, in turn, may have cost the newly merged university some first-year students. “Because of this delay in processing, we wonder if students went elsewhere because they got notification of their financial aid in a much timelier fashion from other institutions than we were able to provide to them this year,” she said.

Rowland said the first-to-second-year retention rate was pretty good, but there was an 8 percent decline in first-year enrollment at the new institution compared to what the total enrollment had been at the two institutions before they merged, which was about 9,100 students. She said no one was at fault and the problem would not occur again.

Rowland said the FAFSA problems didn’t help, but were not the only problem. She said the college has had to rebrand and market itself in a totally different fashion since the merger. “It was a drastic enough difference that it just wasn’t tied to a bad recruiting year,” Rowland said.

The Georgia higher ed system has been pushing mergers since 2011. A recently announced merger of Kennesaw State University and Southern Polytechnic State University is meeting strong opposition from students and alumni. On Wednesday, local news media reported an iconic globe in the center of Southern Poly campus had been toppled, apparently in an act of vandalism or protest linked to unrest after announcement of the merger.

November 7, 2013

A 2011 lawsuit alleging that Drake University officials tried to keep a student from bringing the service dog she was training into class may proceed in court, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday. The Drake law school graduate says university officials were hostile toward her from 2006-9 even though Iowa law permitted her to have the dog in public places, the Des Moines Register reported. A Polk County District Court judge had dismissed the case in April 2012, but the student appealed.

November 7, 2013

The National Collegiate Athletic Association charged Chadron State College with a lack of institutional control, its most serious breach of conduct, after finding that a former football coach maintained an outside bank account for the program and gave two players $250 for academic and insurance bills. The coach also allowed an athlete to compete while ineligible and lied or misled to NCAA investigators. The association announced Wednesday that Chadron State, a Division II program, will vacate all football wins from the 2011 and 2012 seasons and face recruiting visit reductions. It also charged the university $5,000 and placed a show cause order on the former coach and former athletics director, meaning the penalties will carry over if another institution tries to hire them.

November 7, 2013

The law dean at Case Western Reserve University told colleagues and students that he would take a leave of absence in response to a lawsuit accusing the dean of retaliating against a professor for reporting potential sexual harassment, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported. Lawrence Mitchell, dean of the Case law school since 2011, said in an email message to law school students and staff that he had asked for the leave to avoid having the lawsuit disrupt the school's work, according to the newspaper. The Plain Dealer reported last month on the lawsuit filed by Raymond Ku, a professor and former associate dean who alleged that he lost his administrative post after informing university administrators about incidents he and others witnessed in which Mitchell caressed a female staff member and made inappropriate sexual comments to others. Mitchell has denied the charges, and Case released a statement last month citing inaccuracies in the lawsuit.

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