Higher Education Quick Takes
Colorado Christian University on Thursday became the second institution to sue the Obama administration over the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that private employers cover birth control in their health plans or pay a fine. “The government’s Mandate unconstitutionally coerces Colorado Christian to violate its deeply-held religious beliefs under threat of heavy fines and penalties,” the lawsuit says.
It adds that the health care overhaul legislation “forces” the university to “fund government-dictated speech…. Because the government acted with full knowledge of those beliefs, and because it allows plans not to cover these services for a wide range of reasons other than [sic] religion, the Mandate can be interpreted as nothing other than a deliberate attack by the government on the religious beliefs of Colorado Christian and millions of other Americans.” (In some cases, the legislation allows exceptions based on the employer size or the age of the plan, the lawsuit says.)
Colorado Christian’s action follows a similar complaint filed last month by Belmont Abbey College. That lawsuit also alleged that the contraception requirement violates the university’s First Amendment rights. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed both suits on behalf of the universities.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday hastily withdrew a policy change that would have allowed the agency to deduct from its tuition payments to colleges any debts that student veterans owed the government from their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. The approach, which college officials had learned about this week via e-mail from a regional office of the veterans' agency, caused immediate consternation among campus veterans' education administrators and others, who feared they would then be put in the awkward position of becoming the government's debt collectors from their own students. "[T]he school will get shorted money and be expected to recoup it from the Veterans," one administrator wrote on a listserv for veterans' officials. "This is going to make the schools VERY mad."
A spokesman for the veterans' agency said in a statement late Thursday: “System changes installed this week allowed for collection of Post-9/11 Bill debts from all education benefit payments issued to or on behalf of the student. However, because these changes had not been fully vetted, they have been withdrawn effective today.”
- Elaine Delk, executive director of community relations at Richland School District Two, in South Carolina, has been selected as executive director of development at Newberry College, also in South Carolina.
- Eric Jones, interim dean of students at Central College, in Iowa, has been promoted to director of academic resources and class dean there.
- Sundar Kumarasamy, vice president for enrollment management at the University of Dayton, in Ohio, has been named vice president for enrollment management and marketing there.
- Theodore (Ted) Rappaport, William and Bettye Nowlin Chair of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, has been named David Lee/Ernst Weber Chair of Electrical Engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University.
- Jacaranda Van Rheenen, postdoctoral recruiter for academic programs in biomedical sciences at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, in Tennessee, has been chosen as assistant dean for graduate academic affairs at Washington University in St. Louis.
Tom Williams resigned Thursday as Yale University's football coach, and admitted that he had never been a finalist -- as he had claimed -- for a Rhodes Scholarship, The New York Times reported. Williams had listed the honor in various places, and drew attention to his background when Yale's star quarterback this year opted to play the game against Harvard University rather than go to an interview that might have landed him a Rhodes Scholarship. As Williams told the story, he opted out of a chance at a Rhodes while he was at Stanford University, preferring to play a game rather than go to the interview. In a statement Thursday, he admitted that he had never been a Rhodes finalist. He said that some faculty members had encouraged him to apply, but that he had never done so.
Officials from Kentucky and the University of Pikeville, a private institution, are discussing the possibility of the university becoming a public campus in the state system, The Herald-Leader reported. The move would require legislative approval at a time that dollars are scarce. Pikeville officials said that a switch to public status would result in students in the region getting a new higher education option at public rates that are almost $10,000 a year less than the tuition paid to Pikeville as a private institution.
Stephen Bloom, the University of Iowa journalism professor whose article about his state has created a furor there, is now in an "undisclosed location" that is not Iowa or Michigan (where he had been teaching this semester), he told the journalism blogger Jim Romenesko. He has been receiving threats about what many Iowans found to be offensive generalizations about the state. "Last night a man called my wife and suggested I be made into a lampshade. A blog refers to me as Jew Stephen Bloom. I have received scores of hate-filled e-mails that have threatened me or my family.”
Bloom said he plans to be back at Iowa to teach when the next semester begins January 2. "I’m not going to be bullied," he said. "I will be back in that classroom."
A former student who said that Brown University forced him out because the daughter of a donor accused him of rape has dropped a lawsuit against the university, and reached a settlement with the family of the woman who accused him, the Associated Press reported. Details of the agreement were not released, and a Brown spokeswoman said the university was not a party to the settlement. Both sides agreed not to talk to the news media. A former assistant wrestling coach who backed the former student who was accused of rape said that the settlement was a victory for him.
The average assistant football coach at the National Collegiate Athletic Association's top competitive level saw his pay rise by 11 percent this year, and the total salaries of the assistant coaches for at least five programs rose above $3 million, USA Today reported. The article, the newspaper's third such survey of assistant coaches' pay, found an 18 percent increase over all since 2009 among assistant coaches at 97 institutions that compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (the division has a total of 120 members, but many private universities refused to provide their salary data to USA Today). The top-paid assistant (earning $1.3 million) was at Auburn University, while Louisiana State University and the Universities of Alabama, Texas at Austin, Tennessee at Knoxville and Florida all paid their football assistants at least $3 million cumulatively.
By comparison, the average salary for professors rose 1.4 percent in 2010-11, the latest year for which data are available, according to the American Association of University Professors.