Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, November 18, 2011 - 4:36am

Syracuse University has placed an assistant men's basketball coach, Bernie Fine, on leave amid reports that the local police are now investigating allegations that he sexually abused a ball boy for the team in the 1980s, USA Today reported. The university said that it investigated the allegations six years ago, but that Fine denied the charges and that a number of people whom the complainant said would verify his allegations failed to do so. Syracuse officials told The Post-Standard that they were suspending Fine because of a new allegation and because of the police investigation. Jim Boeheim, head coach of the basketball team, issued a statement backing Fine. "This matter was fully investigated by the university in 2005 and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded. I have known Bernie Fine for more than 40 years. I have never seen or witnessed anything to suggest that he would been involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support," Boeheim said.

Friday, November 18, 2011 - 3:00am

A report released Thursday by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity found that the rising cost of attending college is primarily attributable to an increase in the cost of non-tuition expenses such as textbooks and housing rather than growing net tuition costs. While the cost of attending a four-year college has risen about $3,000 per student since the 1999-2000 school year, the report found, only about $1,000 of that is attributable to increased net tuition. Financial aid has managed to keep the increase in per-student net prices at about $1,000 while sticker prices rose about $3,000.

The report also found that four-year colleges have increased per-student revenues over the past 10 years. "At the four-year level, the significant increase in tuition revenue undermines the common argument that colleges are pursuing a high-tuition/high-aid model (where any increase in tuition is used to offer more scholarships and aid)," the report states.

Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 3:00am

Thirty-seven percent of community college students this fall were blocked from enrolling in at least one course they desired, according to a survey being released today by the Pearson Foundation. That is up from 32 percent who reported being unable to enroll in at least one course a year ago. The figures this fall were even higher for black students (42 percent) and Latino students (54 percent). Students enrolled part time and those enrolled in remedial courses were more likely to report difficulty in getting into sections of courses.

The foundation also surveyed community college students on distance education, and found that community college students appear to be embracing it. Fifty-seven percent of community college students reported having taken college courses online, 46 percent reported doing so this fall, and 74 percent of those who have taken online courses said that they were satisfied with the experience.

Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 3:00am

The Modern Language Association's Executive Council has issued a statement expressing concern about the impact of rising student debt, and calling on colleges and governments to take steps to minimize debt. "To reduce debt burdens in the future, we call on Congress, state legislatures, and institutions of higher education to calibrate educational costs and student aid in ways that will keep student debt within strict limits. We also call on them to hold in check tuition increases, which often far outpace inflation, and to ensure that degree programs allow for timely completion," says the statement.

An accompanying letter from Russell Berman, the MLA president and a professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University, discussed the importance for advocates of the humanities speaking out on issues of college affordability and student debt. "College education has aspired to achieve more than the imparting of instrumental job training by instead building students’ creativity, argumentative rigor, and cognitive flexibility — capacities of the mind that might of course contribute to career success but that do not involve the mastery of specific job-related techniques or the attainment of preprofessional accreditation. This goal remains valid," Berman's letter says. "It is important to recognize, however, that the liberal arts celebration of an education not linked to professional preparation has existed alongside the promise that higher education would open the door to a fulfilling career. This gap between the appeal of the liberal arts, on the one hand, and the dismal job market, on the other, persists and puts pressure on the MLA’s mission: promoting the study of language and literature. As we rightly defend student opportunities to study the liberal arts, we face a moral obligation to address the career prospects of our students and the economic pressures they will face."

Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 3:00am

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is seeking comments on private student loans from students, families, colleges and loan providers to prepare a report for Congress on private student lending. In a notice published in today's Federal Register, the bureau said it was seeking information on how students use private loans, what types of comparison shopping tools are available, what best practices are for financial aid offices who counsel private borrowers, and other topics related to the private lending industry. The report must be submitted to Congress by July 21, 2012.

Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, the University of Miami's Daniel Messinger decodes the common features of interactions between an infant and parent. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 4:05am

Part of the Occupy Wall Street movement is planning to announce on Monday a campaign to encourage people repaying student loans to stop doing so. The idea is that people will pledge to stop repaying their loans when 1 million people agree to do so. The hope is that such a volume of non-repayment would make it difficult to punish those who opt to stop paying. The repayments could continue, however, if certain conditions are met. Those conditions include making public higher education free to students. The campaign was described to Inside Higher Ed by Andrew Ross, a prominent humanities scholar at New York University, who has been involved with the efforts to start the drive.

 

Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 3:00am

Union Theological Seminary, in New York City, has announced that Cornel West will be leaving his Princeton University professorship to become a professor of philosophy and Christian practices at the seminary. West has been a key figure in philosophy, cultural studies and African-American studies at Princeton and, before that, at Harvard University. Earlier in his career, he taught at Union Theological. West told The New York Times that he was going to be taking a significant pay cut to leave Princeton, but that he was ready for the move because Union is “the institutional expression of my core identity as a prophetic Christian.”

 

Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 4:08am

The average compensation for a big-time college football coach is $1.47 million this year, up 55 percent over the last six seasons, USA Today reported. The newspaper's study found that the pay in the six conferences that make up the Bowl Championship Series, the increase was roughly the same percentage, but on a larger base. The average salary in those conferences for a head football coach is $2.125 million. The USA Today analysis found that 64 coaches are making more than $1 million, of which 32 are being paid more than $2 million and 9 are making more than $3 million.

 

Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 3:00am

Natalie Wisneski, the Fiesta Bowl's former chief operating officer, was indicted Wednesday on federal charges that she covered up illegal campaign contributions by bowl employees, The Arizona Republic reported. Among other things, she is alleged to have filed false financial records and making campaign contributions in another person's name. She is also charged with soliciting campaign contributions from bowl employees and then reimbursing them with revenue from the bowl. Wisneski was not available for comment but has previously denied wrongdoing.

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