Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 4:34am

The University of Minnesota at Duluth has fired Rod Raymond as wellness director over numerous charges that he denies, The Duluth News Tribune reported. During the last four years, two students filed sexual harassment complaints against Raymond and he was facing other, unspecified charges. A university statement said that he was dismissed for, among other things, “violation of the Regent’s Policy on Nepotism and Personal Relationships;" “inappropriate sexual conduct with a UMD student on university premises and during work hours,” and "untruthfulness during an Office of Equal Opportunity investigation." Raymond has denied all charges, and vowed to challenge his dismissal.


Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of Georgia will soon begin offering “soft benefits” – voluntary dental, vision and life insurance – to domestic partners of employees, it announced  this week. Approximately 35 percent of the 150 couples to apply for the benefits are same-sex, a university spokesman said. Although law and policy prohibit state money from funding domestic partner benefits in Georgia, the extension of voluntary, employee-paid soft benefits to domestic partners of employees of state institutions, including Georgia State University and Georgia Institute of Technology, dates back to 2002. "The majority of our peers do it, and it's a competitive matter; it's the ability to compete for talent," said Tom Jackson, vice president for public affairs at University of Georgia. The decision followed a recent vote by the University Council to extend full benefits to domestic partners. In a statement, President Michael Adams said that offering full benefits to domestic partners using private funds "will, unfortunately, require further study."

Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 3:00am

Capella University has received approval from its regional accreditor to proceed with a pilot program in competency-based education that does not rely on the credit hour standard, an approach called "direct assessment." The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools approved the for-profit institution's "FlexPath" bachelor of science in business and master of business administration. University officials said the direct assessment tracks could reduce the cost of a degree and the time needed to complete it.

Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- The fight over student loan interest rates, which will double to 6.8 percent on federally subsidized Stafford loans on July 1 if Congress doesn't act, grew messier on Wednesday with a promise from the Obama administration to veto a House of Representatives plan for a long-term change to interest rates. The White House, Congressional Republicans and Congressional Democrats have now offered widely divergent plans to avert the rate hike. The Obama administration favors a long-term fix that would base interest rates for student loans on the government's cost of borrowing, while Congressional Democrats want to extend the current interest rate for a year or two in order to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

Like the Obama administration's plan, the House Republican plan called for basing the interest rate on student loans on the 10-year yield on U.S. Treasury bonds. But the House Republican plan would allow rates to vary from year to year over the life of the loan. (Senate Republicans introduced a plan closer to the administration's: rates would vary from year to year for new loans, but they'd be fixed over the life of the loan, like a traditional mortgage.) The truly variable rate was unacceptable, the White House said in a policy statement Wednesday. The administration is also concerned that the plan doesn't provide lower interest rates for subsidized student loan borrowers, who are financially needy, and that it doesn't expand income-based repayment programs. If the bill passes in its current form, senior advisers would advise the president to veto it.

The House is expected to consider the bill today.

Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 3:00am

A Dallas woman who has enrolled in and dropped out of 13 colleges since 2009 -- regularly applying for and keeping federal financial aid -- was indicted Tuesday on six counts of financial aid fraud, The Dallas Morning News reported. When some of the colleges asked her to return aid funds, she refused, and when one college cut off her aid, she filed an appeal.


Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 3:00am

The U.S. Education Department today published its annual compendium of all the data you'd want to know about American education: "The Condition of Education 2013." The report, published by the National Center for Education Statistics, includes special focus sections on the employment rates of young adults (noting that those with bachelor's degree are far likelier than high school graduates to be employed) and on various aspects of student debt.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 3:00am

NAFSA: Association of International Educators has issued an update to its members regarding new procedures in place to verify Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) status at border checkpoints. NAFSA reports that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has upgraded databases available to Customs and Border Protection officials in order to flag F, M and J visa-holders whose SEVIS status has been canceled, completed or terminated, thus eliminating the need for students and scholars whose status remains active to be routinely referred to secondary inspection points, as was the practice under an interim policy put in place following the Boston Marathon bombings.

More detail on the technological upgrades can be found in written testimony given by DHS officials at a House of Representatives Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security hearing on Tuesday. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 4:27am

Some students engaged in a non-disruptive protest Tuesday at commencement ceremonies for Teachers College of Columbia University. The Washington Post reported that students held signs saying "Not a Test Score" to protest the awarding of an honor and a speaking role to Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents. The students said that reforms pushed by Tisch rely excessively on standardized test scores, to the detriment of educational values. Susan Fuhrman, president of the college, released a letter (covering numerous controversies at the institution) in which she defended the honor for Tisch. "I have been listening closely to objections by some about bestowing the TC Medal of Distinguished Service on New York State Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch," Fuhrman wrote. "Let me assure you that our decision to bestow the TC Medal on Chancellor Tisch was made to recognize her body of work and leadership across a range of fields, including education, and does not constitute an institutional endorsement of specific decisions, opinions, or policies. The same standard applies to all of our medalists, and going forward we will broaden community involvement in the selection process."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 3:00am

It's rational for college seniors not to want their days on campus to end (especially with the job market looking the way it is). A group of Bucknell University engineering students did what they could to extend their time in Pennsylvania's Susquehanna Valley with a commencement day prank on Sunday. According to the Bucknell Facebook page, President John Bravman received an e-mail that day informing him, in verse, that the hands of the campus's main clock had gone missing. It read:

"Early this morning as the dew did fall
Made we an effort at time to stall."

It was signed, "Your Hard Working Engineers."

Later in the day, the university's public safety chief got an anonymous tip pointing him to the missing hands.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 3:00am

A former Rutgers University quarterback can move forward with a lawsuit against the video game company Electronic Arts Inc. after a federal appeals court on Tuesday reversed a lower court’s ruling that said the First Amendment protected the company’s right to depict individual players in games. The company’s “NCAA Football” series features avatars that match individual players in height, weight, number – and in plaintiff Ryan Hart’s case, left wrist band – but not in name. While the National Collegiate Athletic Association is not a party to this case, a separate lawsuit against the NCAA -- which likely won't be resolved for a few years -- charges that the association should compensate athletes for benefiting financially from their image.


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