Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 30, 2013

The Vermont State Colleges System and the University of Vermont have refused to allow Sodexo to reclassify some of the company workers who operate food services at the colleges, The Burlington Free Press reported. Sodexo announced the reclassification plans, which the colleges had the right to reject, in response to the new federal healthcare law. Some employees who have been considered full-time will now be considered part-time, and lose eligibility for employer-provided health insurance. Student and faculty groups had circulated petitions urging the colleges to block Sodexo's plans. A statement from Sodexo said: "We will work with Vermont State Colleges and the University of Vermont on this ongoing process and will continue to support our employees to help them understand their options and prepare them to meet the requirements of the individual mandate” of the new health reform law."

October 30, 2013

The final results of the Institute for Higher Education Policy's three-year Project Win-Win are in. According to a newly-released report from the institute, the degree audit by 60 institutions in nine states tracked down 6,700 former students who had either earned enough credits to receive a degree or were within striking distance of one. So far more than 4,500 of the former students have received degrees through the program. Another 1,700 have returned to college, with 400 more saying they plan to enroll again.

October 30, 2013

The leader of a Johns Hopkins University-affiliated radiology unit may be contributing to the unjust denials of coal miners’ black lung claims, according to a yearlong investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and ABC News. The news outlets said there is a strong evidence that John Hopkins radiologist Paul Wheeler, head of a unit at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, has helped coal companies fight black lung claims as a medical expert using methods not endorsed by leaders and standard practices in his field. Wheeler, whose opinion has been used to help deny hundreds of coal miners' claims, is quoted as saying “I don’t care about the law” and “I don’t think I need medical literature.” Officials at Johns Hopkins appeared to defend Wheeler in a statement to the news organizations but then declined to answer their follow up questions.

October 30, 2013

Lipscomb University has dropped its new logo -- interlocking letters L and U -- after objections from Liberty University, The Tennessean reported. Liberty has a trademark on a similar logo.

 

October 29, 2013

Pennsylvania State University will pay $59.7 million in 26 settlements to victims of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, officials announced Monday. The settlement terms include a release of all claims against Penn State and other parties, and are subject to confidentiality agreements, a university statement says. The payouts should by covered by insurance and interest revenues from university loans, and no tuition money, taxpayer funds or donations will be used.

Six of 32 total claims remain, according to the statement. The university has rejected some as without merit, while the people who filed the others are engaged in settlement discussions. Jerry Sandusky, who is currently in Pennsylvania state prison, exploited his connections with Penn State football to rape and abuse young boys for years, sometimes on campus.

October 29, 2013

Berry College, a private institution in Georgia, announced Monday that it has settled (and won) a dispute with Tennessee. Berry sued Tennessee last year when the state tried to impose fees on the college because of two billboards that it put up. The state said that Berry was effectively operating a college in Tennessee. But Berry said that this was untrue, and that the college wasn't offering courses in the state (or even distance education). The college said the state was interfering with its right to simply recruit Tennessee students. Under the settlement, Berry said, Tennessee is waiving its rules based on Berry meeting similar standards in Georgia that Tennessee colleges must meet there. Officials of the Tennessee Higher Education Coordinating Board did not respond to email seeking comment.

 

October 29, 2013

Student protests blocking access to Kliment Ochridsky University, Bulgaria's largest university, have forced officials to suspend classes, the Associated Press reported. Students' grievances focus on the government, and university leaders have been urging them -- without success -- to let the university function.

 

October 29, 2013

Morgan State University is investigating charges that Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity rejected a student for being gay, The Baltimore Sun reported. The student cited social media messages by fraternity members that used an anti-gay slur.

 

October 29, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Inna Gaisler-Salomon of the University of Haifa reveals why stress may have a more far-reaching impact than previously believed. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

October 29, 2013

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is soliciting feedback for a new governance and competitive structure in large part because the biggest athletic departments want more leeway to spend money and grow their revenue-generating programs, football and men’s basketball. Naturally, one idea that has gained traction is a "super division" within or outside of Division I. But if they’re going to get it, a dozen associations for coaches of sports including volleyball, soccer, wrestling and swimming told NCAA leaders, those institutions should be required to raise the minimum number of sponsored sports from 16 to 24, and fund each one at at least 60 percent of the Division I financial aid limit.

“While it might seem counterintuitive to attempt to control expenditures by mandating growth,” coaches wrote in a letter to the Division I Board of Directors, which will hear ideas on restructuring before its quarterly meeting this week, “in this case it is one of few legal ways to achieve cost control. Prudent decision-making is built into the structure by funding requirements.”

The money athletic departments make off football and men’s basketball supports growth in those sports, but it also keeps the non-revenue programs represented by the coaches’ associations afloat.

“Mandating an increase in opportunity for and support of student-athletes in other sports financially links intercollegiate athletics at these institutions with their nonprofit mission while also leveling the funding disparities across Division I,” the letter says. The most elite programs have budgets about 50 percent bigger than the rest of Division I, hence the new sport minimum, the letter says. And 60 percent of the financial aid maximum lets institutions set priority sports while still supporting more athletes. The coaches also proposed developing a model within the NCAA governance structure that would  include coach associations beyond football and basketball on strategic planning, sport management and relationship coordination. Coach association leaders would be included as members or advisors to the various NCAA cabinets, councils and committees (such as rules and championships).

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