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.
Higher Education Quick Takes
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.
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.
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."
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.
The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities today released a guidance document for how its member institutions should work with third-party vendors. The release follows newly-strengthened federal rules for misrepresentations about degree programs, such as through online or television advertising for prospective students. Colleges can now be held accountable for virtually any false or misleading claim made by a third-party vendor. For-profits often hire outside companies to help in "lead generation" for students, which means the colleges face new vulnerability if those vendors run afoul of the rules.
However, officials at the association said the new guidance document was in the works before the new regulations were devised. Brian Moran, APSCU's interim CEO and president, said for-profits recognize their responsibility in being proactive about the "Wild West of Internet ads" generated by unethical companies. The guidelines show how members should exercise control in their relationships with outside marketing firms, and how they should monitor the advertisements themselves.
Moran said for-profits are not directly responsible for the actions of third-party vendors, but that "we are tarnished by the criticism" of shady advertising. He said the new rules create "enormous exposure" for APSCU's members. "There's lots of danger for the unaware."
The president of Edison State College said Tuesday that he plans to fire the institution's top academic administrator for insubordination and a "complete lack of collegiality" -- citing among other incidents the official's decision to tell the college's accreditor about what became a highly publicized controversy over the potentially improper awarding of credits. In a letter released to local reporters, President Kenneth P. Walker, whose leadership of the Florida college has been enmeshed in controversy for much of the year, told Steve Atkins, the vice president for academic affairs, that he would ask trustees to dismiss Atkins and that Atkins could not come on campus without permission from the human resources office. Walker cited a range of actions that he said showed that Atkins could "no longer serve in the position." In an interview with a local television station as he left the campus Tuesday, Atkins said he had told Edison State officials Saturday that he planned to sue the institution for creating a hostile work environment and retaliating against him.
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.
The Contra Costa Community College District has angered many unions and labor advocates by announcing plans to reconsider a policy governing the companies hired to work on construction projects, The Contra Costa Times reported. The policy requires local labor to be hired whenever possible, and for prevailing wages to be paid. Critics say that it removes flexibility and denies work to non-union labor, but supporters say that it assures fair treatment for workers and supports the local economy.