Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 22, 2013

The Grambling State University football players who boycotted their game Saturday said they are returning to practice and competition this week, but “have not forgotten the situation and how we’ve gotten here.” The athletes said in a statement obtained by USA Today that they made the decision after consulting with the former head coach Doug Williams, whose firing helped prompt the protest. The players were also revolting against dilapidated facilities, lack of team staff and resources, and excessive travel to games. Jim Bernhard, a Fortune 500 CEO in Baton Rouge, said he would "ensure" the university's football facilities are updated, the statement says. Administrators say they are trying to balance athletes’ concerns with a serious lack of funding at the historically black university. The Southwestern Athletic Conference may impose a fine on Grambling State over the forfeit.

October 22, 2013

The National Student Clearinghouse is the closest thing the United States has to a national student-level record system, which makes it an increasingly potent tool for policy makers and researchers hoping to understand how students move into and through higher education. But like all data sources, it has its limitations, and a paper published by the National Bureau for Economic Research aims to help those using the clearinghouse do so effectively.

The paper (abstract available here), written by scholars at the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, notes that the clearinghouse -- a nonprofit entity that had its start as a tool for tracking recipients of federal financial aid -- has transformed itself into a major source of studies produced by its own staff and a haven for researchers tapping into its data. But they point out as well that, like any data source, the clearinghouse has its flaws -- notably that there is substantial variation in how fully students are represented in certain sectors, states and population subgroups. "As research using NSC data becomes even more common, researchers need to be aware of the benefits and challenges of working with these data," the authors write.

October 22, 2013

Students at Kentucky State University are protesting the firing of Leslie Thomas as director of student life, The State Journal reported. Thomas says that she was fired because of her strong relationship with students. She noted that the university had recently eliminated two popular trips that she organized every year -- one a service trip to New Orleans and the other a black history tour. University officials said that they could not comment on a personnel matter.

 

October 21, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Stephanie King of the University of St. Andrews explains recent findings that point to the use of names by dolphins. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 21, 2013

Grambling State University football players refused to travel by bus the 154 miles to Jackson State University for their scheduled game Saturday. The forfeiture comes after the team walked out of a meeting with Grambling State President Frank Pogue and then boycotted two practices, all over administrators' refusal to address poor facility conditions, the firing of head coach Doug Williams, and excessively long travel to games, athletes said.

Grambling State, a historically black university in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, is in dire financial straits, officials have said. In an apology to the Jackson State president, Pogue said "unfortunately too many of our players don't understand the degree of our fiscal challenges."

October 21, 2013

Ernesto Perez, the CEO of Dade Medical College, a Florida for-profit institution, has been charged with perjury and filing false information for failing on various records to indicate that he has a criminal past, The Miami Herald reported. Perez was asked about his background on forms he filled out when he was appointed to the Florida Commission on Independent Education, which oversees for-profit colleges in the state. Perez pleaded no contest, after a 1990 arrest, to misdemeanor charges of battery and exposing his genitals to a child. The Herald said that the victim was a 15-year-old fan of the heavy metal band in which Perez was then playing. Perez told the Herald that any forms that were not filled out completely were simply the result of an "honest mistake."

October 21, 2013

Many minority faculty members at the University of California at Los Angeles feel that they encounter bias and insensitivity regularly, and that the university is not necessarily committed to resolving their concerns, says a report released by the university last week.  The report was prepared by Carlos Moreno, a former justice of the California Supreme Court, who was assisted by lawyers so that minority faculty members could discuss their concerns without fear of hurting their careers. The report says that  "we found widespread concern among faculty members that the racial climate at UCLA had deteriorated over time, and that the university’s policies and procedures are inadequate to respond to reports of incidents of bias and discrimination. Our investigation found that the relevant university policies were vague, the remedial procedures difficult to access, and from a practical standpoint, essentially nonexistent."

Gene D. Block, chancellor at UCLA, announced in response to the report the creation of a new position, a full-time discrimination officer, and he pledged further policies to make UCLA welcoming for all professors. "Our campus can and must do a better job of responding to faculty reports of racial and ethnic bias and discrimination and take steps to prevent such incidents from ever occurring," said Block in an e-mail message to the campus. "It is one thing to talk about our commitment to diversity and creating a welcoming campus; it is quite another to live up to those ideals. Rhetoric is no substitute for action. We must set an example for our students. We cannot tolerate bias, in any form, at UCLA. I sincerely regret any occasions in the past in which we have fallen short of our responsibility."

October 21, 2013

Authorities have charged Anthony Joseph Mastrippolito, a student at Palm Beach State College, with a series of phone threats to murder the dean of students, The Sun Sentinel reported. A police report cited more than a dozen calls that said things like "I'm going to murder you," and "You're dead. I'm going to kill you." Mastrippolito was reportedly angry over a trespass charge related to previous harassing calls. He could not be reached for comment as he is in jail.

October 21, 2013

Tuskegee University on Saturday announced the resignation, effective immediately, of President Gilbert L. Rochon. The announcement gave no reason for the departure of Rochon, who has been in office three years. Matthew Jenkins, a board member, will serve as interim president. Tuskegee referred questions to an outside public relations company, which declined to comment on the sudden change.

 

October 21, 2013

A 34,000-student university in Chile affiliated with Laureate Education, Inc. has received notification from the National Accreditation Commission that its institutional accreditation will not be renewed at the end of its current three-year term. The Universidad de las Américas plans to appeal the decision, which -- if it stands – would mean that new students would be ineligible for government loans or grants.

The university has not yet received the report from the accreditor indicating the reasons for the decision, said Matt Yale, a Laureate spokesman. He’s confident of the university’s chances for a successful appeal nonetheless. 

“We are very confident because this is a really great university with a world-class management team, commitment to student outcomes, and a track record of operating a very good university,” Yale said.

Laureate, a for-profit university system, has grown its overseas footprint rapidly in recent years, expanding to operate 78 institutions in 30 countries. It operates six higher education institutions in Chile, including three full-fledged universities.

Laureate is not the only multinational for-profit education operator to face accreditation woes in Chile. In 2012, the National Accreditation Commission rescinded its approval of the Universidad de Artes, Ciencias y Comunicación, which is operated by Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix.
 

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