Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 6, 2015

The University System of Georgia will attempt another merger, this time between Georgia State University and a community college, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, citing unnamed sources close to the matter.

Since 2011, the Georgia system has embarked on a series of mergers unlike any other state system in the country. The sixth and latest would be between Georgia State, a four-year university with an urban campus and about 25,000 undergraduates, and Georgia Perimeter College, a two-year college with about 21,000 students in the suburbs. Both are in or near Atlanta, but they have far different missions and programs. Georgia State has a $740 million budget, about four times Perimeter’s, and has a significantly higher tuition, which could become a knot to untangle for Georgia officials.

The merger is expected to be recommended at a meeting today of the system’s Board of Regents. The board is also set to finalize a merger between Kennesaw State University and Southern Polytechnic State University that was announced in November 2013 and approved by accreditors just last month.

Georgia has already merged a four-year with a two-year college, when it combined North Georgia College and State University with the two-year Gainesville State College, but those institutions are smaller and had roughly the same budget. The state has also combined two colleges with vastly different missions and budgets: Augusta State University, a mostly undergraduate institution, and Georgia Health Sciences University, a medical college with a $630 million budget that was 10 times that of Augusta State's.

Mergers have been a key goal of Georgia system Chancellor Hank Huckaby’s since he took the job in 2011. With the Kennesaw and Southern Poly merger, the number of public colleges in the state will be reduced to 30 from 35 when he took office.

The Georgia system makes its decision to merge based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative factors, which the board has publicly boiled down to a half-dozen “principles for consolidation.” 

January 6, 2015

Kaplan Higher Education, a for-profit chain, on Monday agreed to a $1.3 million settlement with the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas. The civil settlement resolves whistleblower allegations that Kaplan employed unqualified instructors at its campuses in Texas, the U.S. Attorney's office said in a written statement. The agreement did not include a finding of wrongdoing by the company. The for-profit settled to avoid the "expense of protracted litigation," a Kaplan official said in a written statement. 

January 6, 2015

Dalhousie University revealed Monday that it had suspended from clinical activities 13 male dentistry students involved in a Facebook group that joked about chloroforming female students to have sex with them, among other comments, The Globe and Mail reported. The students' behavior first drew attention last month, but at the time the Canadian university's president said the students would not be suspended but would be required to attend face-to-face mediation with the women they were accused of harassing.

Pressure has grown on university administrators to take tougher action against the male dentistry students. On Monday, President Richard Florizone said the university had suspended the men from clinical activities (but not from classes) in late December but delayed announcing the punishment because of "credible" risk that some of them might do themselves harm. The men are now on campus and have access to counseling, administrators said. The temporary clinical suspension will stay in place while an academic panel considers other penalties, The Globe and Mail reported. Four faculty members at Dalhousie initiated a complaint against the male students under the student code of conduct, demanding tougher punishment.

January 6, 2015

Washington and Lee University will no longer hold classes on Martin Luther King Day, starting in 2016, The Washington Post reported. The undergraduate faculty voted in November to make the change and officials said that they would not be able to alter the academic calendar until 2016. Washington and Lee has faced criticism from some black students and others for holding classes on the federal holiday, but the university has also faced criticism for some traditionalists for efforts it has made to either limit or place in historical context Confederate symbols that have been revered by some alumni and students.

January 6, 2015

Adjunct professors at Washington University in St. Louis voted to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union, they announced Monday. More than 400 adjuncts will be part of the new bargaining unit, which is the first in St. Louis affiliated with SEIU's Adjunct Action metro-wide organizing campaign. Some 62 percent of adjuncts turned out to vote; 138 voted yes and 111 voted no. Michael O’Bryan, an adjunct instructor of English, called the vote an "important step toward improving the labor conditions of university faculty and, consequently, the learning experience of the students taught by those faculty" in an announcement. The university said in a statement that it is "committed to working with the union on matters of mutual importance."

January 6, 2015

Wroclaw University, in Poland, is planning to restore degrees of Jews and others that were revoked during the Nazi era, The Telegraph reported. The university has identified more than 260 people whose degrees were inappropriately revoked. Relatives of the victims will attend a special ceremony in which the degrees will be restored.

 

January 6, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Jacob Hirsh, a professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, examines the way certain personality traits appear to have correlations with somewhat unrelated attitudes and ideologies. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


 

January 5, 2015

President Obama will be in Tennessee Friday and is expected to make a proposal involving access to college, The Tennessean reported. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Biden and a community college professor, is also expected, suggesting a possible focus on community college. Tennessee recently started a program -- proposed by its Republican governor, Bill Haslam -- to make two years of community college free to high school graduates. Press reports have indicated that President Obama is making a series of trips this week to unveil ideas that will be in his State of the Union address.

 

 

January 5, 2015

Herzing University, a midsized chain of for-profit colleges, has converted to a nonprofit institution, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported. Herzing has 6,000 students in campuses in eight states. Herzing is among the institutions that said new federal regulations on "gainful employment" would make it hard to operate.

January 5, 2015

Union chapters at three more California colleges won faculty elections last week to represent part-time instructors in collective bargaining, The Los Angeles Times reported. The elections -- at Otis College of Art and Design, Dominican University of California, and St. Mary's College of California -- are the latest in a national effort by the Service Employees Union International to organize part-time instructors in and around major cities in the United States.

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