Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, October 21, 2011 - 3:00am

The swelling discontent over college sports -- with scrutiny for issues ranging from improper benefits to scholarship gaps and athletic eligibility -- may soon be examined in the halls of Congress, as well. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to the panel's Republican chairman asking that the committee hold hearings focusing not just on the aforementioned hot topics, but other “antitrust and due process issues.” Among them: conference realignment, limitations on scholarship durations (see related essay elsewhere on this site), National Collegiate Athletic Association bylaws regarding due process of athletes, institutional liability in the event of athletes getting injured, and the NCAA's control of athletes’ “likeness” – which critics say has allowed the association to profit unfairly from using students’ names or images in things like video games and promotions. “It has become increasingly clear to me that the combination of issues and challenges facing intercollegiate sports have reached a tipping point calling for Congressional attention,” Conyers wrote.

In the letter, Conyers acknowledged that his colleagues might hesitate to spend time on issues regarding college athletics, but argued that the “massive business” has widespread economic impact on athletes, broadcasters, fans and colleges nationwide. He also noted that to do so would not be unprecedented – the committee has previously conducted hearings on piracy of sports broadcasting rights and Bowl Championship Series antitrust issues. (Conyers invoked the latter in his appeal to examine the continuing shake-up among conferences. “The impact of major conference realignment on lower-profile sports teams, parents, and smaller and independent universities -- notably Historically Black Colleges and Universities -- are of particular concern,” he wrote. “HBCUs and other universities appear to have been relegated to difficult bargaining postures due to the recent realignments.”)

Friday, October 21, 2011 - 4:40am

The American Bar Association is pledging that it will force law schools to release more information about how their graduates fare at finding jobs. The pledge comes amid criticism from recent law graduates (some of whom are suing law schools) and some members of Congress that law schools deceive prospective students by counting as "employed" those who are working part-time or in temporary jobs or in jobs paid for by the law school. The ABA said that it will now require law schools to report information directly to the association, and that it will require detailed reports, including for each graduate: employment status, employment type, employment location, salary, whether a position is short-term or long-term, and whether a position is funded by the law school. The ABA also plans -- once it completes work on various definitions -- to require reporting on whether jobs in which graduates are employed are positions for which a law degree or bar passage is required. This reflects criticism that, if prospective students knew how many law graduates ended up in jobs for which a law degree was not necessary, some might not enroll (and take out considerable loans to do so).

Friday, October 21, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, York University's Aaron Dhir discusses the regulatory techniques used to encourage multinational corporations to respect human rights around the world. Dhir is an associate professor at York's Osgoode Hall Law School, in Toronto. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 4:41am

Alabama now has a second community college president facing questions over his doctorate. Gary Branch, the president at Faulkner State Community College, has only an honorary doctorate, but is regularly called "Dr. Gary Branch," The Press-Register reported. Branch said that he has never hid the honorary nature of his doctorate. He said that he doesn't call himself "Dr.," although many other people do. But the Press-Register noted that Alabama's community colleges have a policy under which all references to any honorary doctorate must make clear that the degree was not earned. The newspaper noted that the state directory of community colleges is among the documents that identify the president of the college as "Dr." News about Branch comes in the wake of the discovery that the president and dean of Bishop State Community College have doctorates from unaccredited institutions.

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, the University at Albany's Michael Bloom discusses how environmental toxins are contributing to increasing rates of infertility. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

 
Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 4:55am

The University of South Florida Polytechnic says that the hiring of two sons of Marshall Goldman, the chancellor, did not violate anti-nepotism rules, The St. Petersburg Times reported. Goldman was not available for comment. One son was hired as a consultant without his knowledge, officials said, and Goldman reimbursed the university for what he was paid. As for the other son, the university said that he does not report to his father in a job that involves coordinating internships and special events at four business incubators.  A spokeswoman for the university said: "USF Polytechnic recognizes the concerns of nepotism and has made additional efforts to ensure we follow proper procedures."

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 4:43am

Insead, a leading French university, has introduced a series of programs that officials credit with increasing the percentage of students who are female to 33 percent, up from 17 in 2005, The New York Times reported.

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 3:00am

About 20 percent of full-time community college students fail to continue beyond their first year, after federal, state and local governments have already spent $1 billion on their higher education, according to a new study by Mark Schneider, vice president at the American Institutes of Research and a former commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. The study looked at first-time, full-time community college students who were seeking credentials. Government spending on those students who did not return for a second year has increased, hitting $1 billion in 2008-9, an increase of 35 percent over five years. The $4 billion spent during that period included $3 billion in education-related state and local appropriations, $240 million in state grants and $660 million in federal grants.

"Simply saying that the nation needs more community college graduates and continuing to pump more money and more students into the existing system is not the answer," concluded Schneider, who recently wrote a critical study on the costs and benefits of a bachelor's degree. The report suggested several possible solutions for retaining community college students, including prior-learning assessment, "hybrid" learning platforms, better approaches to remedial education, and performance-based funding.

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 3:00am

The board of Central Arizona College, following complaints from employees and others, has announced that it backs President Dennis Jenkins, and will start an investigation of his conduct, The Arizona Republic reported. Employees have accused Jenkins of intimidating them, and of endangering the college's accreditation. Faculty and employee groups have voted no confidence in Jenkins, who has said that he is working on accreditation issues, but who has not commented on other criticisms.

 

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 3:00am

Four students at Florida State University and one teaching assistant in English were arrested in a sting operation in which they went to a location where they thought they were going to meet a 14-year-old, but instead were met by police officers, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. A Florida A&M University student was also arrested.

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