Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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 18, 2013

Students who completed an undergraduate program in 2007-8 were more likely to borrow money to pay for college but less likely to be repaying those loans within a year of graduation compared with their counterparts who graduated in 1992-93 and 1999-2000, a new federal report shows.

The report, released Thursday, analyzes the borrowing and repayment trends of bachelor’s degree recipients within a year of graduation for three cohorts of students. The data were collected through the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study from the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, which, like the rest of the federal government, returned to work on Thursday.

The study found that the percentage of college graduates who borrowed for their undergraduate education rose in each successive cohort from 49 percent (1993) to 64 percent (2000) to 66 percent (2008). The average cumulative debt of graduates also increased in each successive cohort. The number of borrowers repaying their loans within a year of graduation dipped in 2009 to 60 percent, compared with 66 and 65 percent in the previous cohorts. At the same time, the percentage of graduates not in repayment but who still owed money on their student loans (due to either deferments, forbearances or default) rose.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • One in four students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2008 had enrolled in graduate school a year later, which represents a slight increase from previous cohorts. However, across all three cohorts, students’ decision to attend graduate school within a year of graduation was not correlated with how much debt they had already incurred.
  • Student debt levels were also not correlated with a graduate’s decision to move back with parents or other family within a year of graduation (only in cases in which the student left home for college in the first place). That scenario played out at a higher rate (27 percent) for the 2008 graduates than for their 2000 counterparts (18 percent) but at the same rate as 1993 graduates.
October 18, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Gareth Russell of the New Jersey Institute of Technology reassesses the number of endangered tropical bird species. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 18, 2013

The University of the Pacific announced Thursday that it has received $125 million from the estate of a couple that agreed in 2007 to leave its assets to the California institution. The money left to Pacific by Robert and Jeannette Powell, a developer and interior designer, respectively, will create a fund that will support endowed professorships and chairs, an honors program, and the university's art collection, among other things.

October 18, 2013

Grambling State University football players boycotted practice for the second straight day on Thursday, prompting campus administrators to reassign the team's interim football coach to other duties within the athletics department and put an assistant coach in charge, the Monroe News-Star reported. Grambling players have been unhappy at the early season firing of the team's head coach, Doug Williams, a former Washington Redskins quarterback, and complained about 1,000-mile bus trips required for away games in recent weeks, and their frustrations boiled over Wednesday when they walked out of a meeting with university administrators and boycotted practice, USA Today reported.

October 18, 2013

Engineering programs at Kansas State and Oklahoma State Universities and the University of Oklahoma will benefit from a stock gift valued at more than $200 million, the institutions announced Thursday. The three universities' foundations have received privately held stock from Dolese Bros. Co., a construction materials company, and that the company will buy back $500,000 worth of the stock each year, with the goal of improving the engineering programs and increasing the number of graduates they produce. (Note: This article has been updated to correct the names of the institutions receiving the gift.)

October 18, 2013

Two weeks after Howard University's president announced he would step down this year after five years in office, the university's Faculty Senate voted no confidence in the board, The Washington Post reported. "The no-confidence vote again focused a spotlight on a board that has had recent internal disputes," the newspaper said. 

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