Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Legislative scholarships in Illinois -- in which state lawmakers get to give out some funds for college to just about anyone in their districts -- have been the source of many scandals, and regular calls for their elimination. They continue, however, to survive. The Chicago Tribune reported that this year, Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, tried to kill the scholarships, by using his authority to extend legislation barring them from being awarded to lawmakers' relatives, to instead kill the entire program. But legislative leaders said that the governor went beyond his power, so they are refusing to go along with the plan to kill the program.

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Students have not made secret their distaste for Higher One, the company with which many colleges work to issue loan refunds via debit card. At issue are the fees and charges for using the card, which sometimes doubles as a student ID, and the company's and colleges' marketing (which tends to result in students sticking with the card). Nonetheless, a student at Catawba Valley Community College who complained on Facebook about the relationship between the two entities was apparently barred from campus for two semesters because of his comments. Besides criticizing the partnership on the North Carolina college's own Facebook page, he also posted, "Did anyone else get a bunch of credit card spam in their CVCC inbox today? So, did CVCC sell our names to banks, or did Higher One? I think we should register CVCC's address with every porn site known to man. Anyone know any good viruses to send them?" According to a notice of suspension from the college, the student's comment violated a policy against "commission of any other offense which, in the opinion of the administration or faculty, may be contrary to the best interest of the CVCC community." The student has sought help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in his appeal for reinstatement.

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

An appeals court in Florida ruled Wednesday that the state legislature, not the Florida Board of Governors, has ultimate authority to set tuition for public colleges, the News Service of Florida reported. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the state's 1st District Court of Appeal came in a lawsuit brought by a group of citizens (led by the former U.S. Senator Bob Graham) that said a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2002 shifted tuition-setting power from the legislature to the governing board. Those behind the lawsuit said that they would appeal the court's ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Florida Atlantic University has announced that is it saving enough money from installing a solar roof on one of its buildings that it can use the extra funds to support a fellowship. The Sun Sentinel reports that the university says that the fellowship is the world's first to be "funded by the sun."

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The Duke Endowment on Wednesday announced a $35 million grant to Johnson C. Smith University. The grant is believed to be among the largest ever to a historically black college. The funds will pay for the construction of a science center, the renovation of a dormitory and for scholarships.

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Nicholas Leadbeater of the University of Connecticut discusses how easily biodiesel fuels can be refined from food industry waste. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Students have not made secret their distaste for Higher One, the company with which many colleges work to issue loan refunds via debit card. At issue are the fees and charges for using the card, which sometimes doubles as a student ID, and the company's and colleges' marketing (which tends to result in students sticking with the card). Nonetheless, a student at Catawba Valley Community College who complained on Facebook about the relationship between the two entities was apparently barred from campus for two semesters because of his comments. Besides criticizing the partnership on the North Carolina college's own Facebook page, he also posted, "Did anyone else get a bunch of credit card spam in their CVCC inbox today? So, did CVCC sell our names to banks, or did Higher One? I think we should register CVCC's address with every porn site known to man. Anyone know any good viruses to send them?" According to a notice of suspension from the college, the student's comment violated a policy against "commission of any other offense which, in the opinion of the administration or faculty, may be contrary to the best interest of the CVCC community." The student has sought help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education in his appeal for reinstatement.

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 3:00am

How financially risky are some international branch campuses? The Boston Globe reported, in explaining why some American colleges are having second thoughts on the outposts, that Suffolk University lost $10 million on a branch in Senegal. When the university shut down the campus this year, it decided it would be easier to educate the remaining 104 African students by moving them to Boston than by keeping the operation in Senegal. Suffolk is hardly the first American college to reconsider branch campuses. Here is an article from Inside Higher Ed about the decision of Michigan State University to pull out of Dubai.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 3:00am

New England Law Boston announced that it recovered $173,000 that its former controller, Douglas Leman, stole between September 2008 and March 2011, The Boston Globe reported. Law school officials said that they believed the wrongdoing was isolated to one employee. Leman pleaded guilty to the theft last week in federal court.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Hamilton College's Paul Wyckoff examines why holding teachers and students responsible for poor school performance ignores the single greatest factor that determines individual educational outcomes. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

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