Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, June 8, 2012 - 3:00am

The board of Florida A&M University voted 8-4 Thursday that it lacks confidence in James Ammons, the university's president, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Ammons has faced much criticism for failing to deal with widespread hazing by the university's band -- hazing that has received considerable attention since the death of a student last year. But questions have also been raised about other issues, including the university's fragile finances and audits suggesting inadequate management controls. Ammons vowed at the board meeting that he would improve. "I hear you loudly and clearly," Ammons said before the vote. " I understand there are some measures I have to take as president of this university to fix things and I'm going to fix them. This is very serious. This is very serious for the future of this university and you have my commitment to fix them and get this job done." The board did not vote to suspend or fire him.

Friday, June 8, 2012 - 3:00am

Colleges and universities (and the states that regulate them) need to embrace an entrepreneurial approach to reforms, according to a report issued Thursday by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Among the recommendations:

  • States should give higher levels of funding to institutions with better student outcomes.
  • Accreditation should "place the fewest possible restrictions on both new and existing providers to encourage innovation." Further, accreditation "should focus much less on inputs and much more on outcome measures, such as student performance and loan default rates."
  • Online instruction "should be largely deregulated as long as minimum course-level outcomes are specified."
  • Universities "should identify and financially incentivize those professors whose time would be more productively spent in the classroom rather than conducting and publishing scholarly research."
Friday, June 8, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Damian Cruse of the University of Western Ontario shares his research into the level of conscious awareness among coma patients. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, June 8, 2012 - 3:00am

Veterans' affairs and financial aid officers hoping for a clearer understanding of the requirements of an Obama administration executive order on recruiting of veterans and service members were left wanting (and frustrated) Thursday when many were shut out of the first of several webinars at which federal agency officials planned to explain the new policies. The executive order, announced in April on a visit by President Obama to a Georgia military base, will force colleges to disclose more information about financial aid and graduation rates, as well as requiring the Department of Defense to set rules for recruiting at military installations, among other things. Listservs were ablaze Thursday afternoon with complaints from the many who had been shut out as well as from those who participated, who said most of their questions went unanswered.

Officials of the Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Education agencies apologized for the "computer glitch" that allowed more than 1,000 participants to sign up for webinar that was limited to 1,000 spaces, and scheduled a third event for next week.

Friday, June 8, 2012 - 3:00am

Data released Thursday are likely to add to scrutiny of law schools and the question of whether applicants are being admitted who are unlikely to find career advancement worth the cost. The overall employment rate for those who graduated law school in 2011 is 85.6 percent, the lowest since 1994, according to a report issued Thursday by NALP: The Association for Legal Career Professionals. But that figure, association officials noted, doesn't reflect just how bad the job market is. Only 65.4 percent of new law grads are employed in jobs for which bar passage is required. That figure is down 9 percentage points since 2008 -- and is consistent with the reports of many law graduates that they are landing jobs for which they didn't need to go to law school (many times taking out loans to do so).

James Leipold, executive director of NALP, wrote in the report that "for members of the Class of 2011, caught as they were in the worst of the recession, entering law school in the fall of 2008 just as Lehman Brothers collapsed ... the entry-level job market can only be described as brutal. When this class took their LSATs and applied for law school there were no signs that the legal economic boom was showing any signs of slowing, and yet by the time they graduated they faced what was arguably the worst entry-level legal employment market in more than 30 years."

Thursday, June 7, 2012 - 4:24am

The Iowa Board of Regents voted Thursday to create a committee to find ways to phase out the use of tuition revenue for student aid, The Des Moines Register reported. Colleges and universities have for generations used some tuition revenue from those who can afford it to provide scholarships to those who would be otherwise unable to enroll for financial reasons. But this year, Republicans in several states have challenged the practice, saying it creates a burden on the middle class. In Iowa, about 20 percent of tuition goes to such uses, and it is unclear how the state universities would replace those funds to preserve financial aid, which is a goal the board members said they have.



Thursday, June 7, 2012 - 4:26am

Some academics and consumer advocates are worried about a shift in support for agriculture research, the Associated Press reported. Citing data from a recent report from Food and Water Watch, the AP noted that nearly 25 percent of the funds for agriculture research now come from corporations, foundations and trade groups, an all-time high. Meanwhile, federal support has dropped to 15 percent, the lowest level in nearly two decades.


Thursday, June 7, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Nicholas Leadbeater of the University of Connecticut explains how fluorine can be used to create useful new pharmaceuticals. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012 - 3:00am

Student borrowers with federal direct loans who want to enroll in the government's income-based repayment program will be able to apply directly through the Education Department rather than through loan servicers, the Obama administration announced Wednesday. The department will allow borrowers to import Internal Revenue Service income data directly to their application. It will require servicers to inform borrowers about income-based repayment before they begin repaying their loans. The program caps payments at 15 percent (soon to be 10 percent) of a borrower's monthly discretionary income.

The department has struggled with servicing problems in the past year, including glitches with enrolling borrowers in income-based repayment. Administration officials said the streamlined application process should be in place by September.

Thursday, June 7, 2012 - 3:00am

Chapman University has agreed to pay $175,000 to a former film professor who says she was denied tenure because she is a woman, The Orange County Register reported. A faculty grievance committee backed her claim, but another university panel did not. At that point, she took her case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which agreed she had a case. Then, Chapman settled, saying that it did nothing wrong but wanted to resolve the matter.



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