Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 19, 2013

The number of black and Latino students entering four-year colleges significantly outpaced the number of white students over the last three years, while the six-year graduation rate of the minority students edged up slowly, the Education Trust said in a new report. "Intentionally Successful," an analysis of new data from the U.S. Education Department, found that black and Hispanic enrollment at four-year colleges rose by 8.5 and 22 percent, respectively, between 2009 and 2011, compared to a 2.7 percent rise in white enrollment.

The six-year graduation rates of those groups rose by 2 percent, 4.7 percent, and 2.1 percent, respectively, between 2009 and 2011, and the graduation rate for black students in 2011 was still 2.2 percentage points lower than it was in 2006, Education Trust found.



July 19, 2013

Saint Louis University is putting aside $13.4 million for salary increases for faculty and staff in the coming school year, something its embattled president, the Rev. Lawrence Biondi, said he hoped would demonstrate the university’s recognition “of the important contributions of all our employees” in an announcement early this week. (The president and faculty have been at odds since last year, when he backed a controversial plan to require faculty to requalify for tenure every three years.)

But by midweek, Saint Louis faculty were accusing Biondi of retaliating against professors who had spoken out against him by way of forfeited raises. At Saint Louis, salary recommendations are based in part on performance, and some professors said they didn’t get what their deans had recommended to the university’s senior academic officer, Ellen Harshman. “The system is supposed to be transparent, fair and merit-based,” said Jonathan Sawday, professor of English, in a news release from the university’s American Association of University Professors chapter. “This year, in some cases, it looks like it wasn’t any of those things.”

Steve Harris, professor mathematics and computer science and AAUP chapter president, said statistical analysis showed “irrefutable” evidence that targeted faculty were “largely those – both lay and Jesuit – who opposed the president who had their salary recommendations reduced by [Rev.] Biondi.” Harris said his own dean recommended him for a 3.75 percent raise, but he only received a 1 percent raise. "The difference is $2,000," he said in an e-mail. "This is typical of the most vocal of the opponents."

In a statement to all faculty, Jane Turner, Faculty Senate president and professor of pathology, said members of the senate’s executive committee “believe that all such acts of retaliation warrant serious scrutiny and that the president should be held accountable for this action by informing the affected faculty members of the reasons supporting his decision to overrule the recommendations of the respective deans.”

In an e-mailed statement, Clayton Barry, university spokesman, said that 98 percent of all eligible full-time faculty and staff received salary increases beginning July 1, and that those publicly charging Biondi with retaliation included those who received raises. (Harris said that was true, but that the raises were less than had been recommended.) “The salary review process was the same this year as it has been for the past 30 years,” he said, “and each year some salary recommendations – faculty and staff – are increased and some are decreased during the process.”

Harshman did not immediately return a request for comment, nor did Rev. Michael D. Barber, dean of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences.

July 19, 2013

The University of California has agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit brought by a surgeon at the medical school at the university's Los Angeles campus, the Los Angeles Times reported. Christian Head, a head and neck surgeon at UCLA, had accused the university of retaliating against him for filing complaints about discrimination through regular channels, and said that he had once been portrayed as a gorilla being sodomized in a slide show at an event for residents -- an incident for which the university apologized in the settlement.

July 18, 2013

Ohio Representatives Robert F. Hagan and Mike Foley announced Tuesday that they would propose legislation, similar to a plan recently adopted in Oregon, that could eventually result in students paying no tuition while in college but agreeing to pay a percentage of their wages once employed after graduation. Like the Oregon law, the Ohio legislation does not create any immediate policy changes but would task the state's executive agency with developing a pilot program that would go before lawmakers for approval in two years.

Proponents of such legislation say it will help remove the cost barrier that might keep students from pursuing a college education and might make it easier for students to repay, since payments will be linked to income. “This is a unique opportunity for the state to actively address a real problem that has haunted so many young people for far too long,” Foley said in a news release. “The inaction on student loan debt is very real, and I think too many young people are wondering why their government has failed them in this regard.” Opponents have challenged the feasibility of such plans, as well as whether they put too much of the burden for paying for college on students, rather than governments and parents.

July 18, 2013

Disregarding outside pressure from Jewish groups, the University of California System board confirmed its new student regent Wednesday. Sadia Saifuddin, who attends UC Berkeley, is the first Muslim student to sit on the board. A Pakistani-American, Saifuddin was publicly opposed by people on and off-campus, including the conservative activist David Horowitz, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, and the UC Irvine adjunct professor who runs Stand With Us, the Israeli education organization. Saifuddin co-sponsored a campus bill asking the university to divest funds from companies with economic ties to the Israeli military or Israeli settlements on the West Bank, and accused a UC Santa Cruz lecturer of “inciting racist and Islamophobic rhetoric” for linking the Muslim Students Association with terrorism. The controversy over her nomination to the board made national news.

July 18, 2013

The cumulative amount of federal student loan debt held by borrowers has crossed $1 trillion for the first time, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau reported Wednesday. The statements, part of prepared remarks that the agency's student loan ombudsman, Rohit Chopra, was to deliver at the Center for American Progress, put the total amount of all student loan debt (including private loans) at $1.2 trillion, with the amount that the federal government either holds or guarantees topping $1 trillion. Student loan debt is also growing at a much faster rate than other forms of consumer credit -- up 20 percent between the end of 2011 and May 2013, Chopra said.

July 18, 2013

The National Collegiate Athletic Association said Wednesday that it would end a deal with the video game company EA Sports that has put its name and logo on games that have helped put the association in legal trouble. The association, which faces a major antitrust lawsuit in which current and former athletes seek a share of the revenue that they say flows to colleges and the NCAA from use of their likenesses in video games and other venues, cited "the current business climate and costs of litigation" in ending its affiliation with EA when the current deal expires next year. The NCAA receives $545,000 from the company annually. The company said the "NCAA Football" game would live on with a different name, and would continue to work with individual colleges that license their names and logos.

The NCAA's statement warned that that individual colleges may wish to reconsider their own legal position. "The NCAA has never licensed the use of current student-athlete names, images or likenesses to EA. The NCAA has no involvement in licenses between EA and former student-athletes. Member colleges and universities license their own trademarks and other intellectual property for the video game. They will have to independently decide whether to continue those business arrangements in the future."

July 18, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Anne Gerritsen of the University of Warwick traces globalization to its 16th-century roots. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


July 18, 2013

Snap out of the heat-induced summer doldrums by participating in this month's Inside Higher Ed cartoon caption contest. Suggest a caption for this month's cartoon and win an Amazon gift certificate and a signed edition of the cartoon. Vote on your favorite from among our judges' three choices from the scores of suggestions we received for last month's cartoon.

And we're pleased to announce the winner of May's contest: Arlene Neal, who heads the department of developmental English and reading at Catawba Valley Community College, in North Carolina. Find out more about her and her caption here.

July 17, 2013

Five expatriate directors of branch campuses of the Higher Colleges of Technologies in the United Arab Emirates have been replaced by UAE nationals as part of the country’s ongoing process of “Emiratisation," The National reported.

The Economist recently reported that while employment policies favoring Emirati nationals have been in place for three decades, the drive for "Emiratisation" may be accelerating. 


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