Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 4:17am

A former student has sued Lehigh University for $1.3 million for giving her a C+ in a graduate course, a grade that wasn't high enough for her to continue in her program, The Morning Call reported. The student charges that she is the victim of breach of contract and retaliation for complaining about a switch in internship programs, and for advocating for gay rights -- all charges Lehigh denies. The student was in a counseling master's program, and the university is backing her professor's view that she lacked the professionalism to continue, saying that she swore in class, and began crying in an outburst. The university also notes that she never had to pay Lehigh for tuition because her father is a professor there.

A lawyer for Lehigh told the judge Monday: "I think if your honor changed the grade, you'd be the first court in the history of jurisprudence to change an academic grade."

Monday, February 11, 2013 - 3:00am

McMaster University, in Ontario, will close its Confucius Institute this summer due to concerns about its Chinese partner’s hiring practices, The Globe and Mail reported. A former instructor at McMaster’s Confucius Institute recently issued a complaint with the province's Human Rights Tribunal alleging that the university was “giving legitimization to discrimination” because her contract with Hanban – the Chinese government entity that sponsors the institutes – prohibits her participation in Falun Gong. 

The number of Confucius Institutes -- centers of Chinese language and culture education based on university campuses -- has increased rapidly worldwide, but critics raise concerns about the degree to which the Chinese government exercises control over curricular matters (including through the hiring of instructors).

Monday, February 11, 2013 - 4:25am

France is known for numerous laws that protect workers. But adjuncts who teach at American programs at France have few of these rights, The New York Times reported. As a result, many report that their pay is based only on time in class and that they have few if any rights when they are ill or otherwise unable to work.


Monday, February 11, 2013 - 3:00am

Following Colorado's vote to legalize marijuana use, THC University was formed to offer courses (without accreditation) for those seeking to learn to grow marijuana. Programs are being offered in "Budtender certification," "Indoor grower certification" and "Master indoor grower certification." Classes are also offered in basic growing.  The Denver Post reported that the university held its first class Saturday and that it was sold out at 20 students. The class met at the Auraria Campus, which is shared by several Colorado colleges and universities (of the accredited type). Because Auraria bans pot, the first class used tomato plants to demonstrate growing techniques.


Monday, February 11, 2013 - 3:00am

Numerous press reports over the weekend said that President Obama would focus on education -- likely the cost of higher education and the importance of job training -- in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. But those reports generally had little detail and higher education lobbyists said that they also lacked details. The Obama administration has highlighted the issue of college costs,and may return to that issue, but the federal role there may be limited -- especially with state legislatures either directly or indirectly guiding tuition policy at public institutions. The president has also several times proposed major job-training initiatives involving community colleges, but had had limited luck winning funds from Congress.


Monday, February 11, 2013 - 3:00am

The family of the late Joe Paterno on Sunday issued a report denouncing the Freeh report, the outside investigation commissioned by Pennsylvania State University into the institution's responsibility for the sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky of numerous young boys. The Paterno family's report says that the Freeh report was based on "raw speculation and unsupported opinion – not facts and evidence," and the family statement says that there is in fact no evidence that Joe Paterno did anything wrong. Penn State and the National Collegiate Athletic Association shouldn't have relied on this report to draw conclusions on the scandal, the Paterno family says.

Penn State on Sunday issued a statement that did not directly attack the Paterno family's study, but that defended the value of its outside investigation. "As a result of the investigation, 119 recommendations were made to Penn State in areas such as safety and governance. To date, the university has implemented a majority of those recommendations, which are helping to make the university stronger and more accountable. The university intends to implement substantially all of the Freeh recommendations by the end of 2013. It is understandable and appreciated that people will draw their own conclusions and opinions from the facts uncovered in the Freeh report," said the university statement.


Monday, February 11, 2013 - 3:00am

Five U.S. senators and 41 members of the House of Representatives have student loan debt -- and the total owed is more than $1.8 million, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics. The center used financial disclosure reports for its study. A similar study from disclosure reports filed in 2008 found that only 3 senators and 27 House members at that time reported student loan debt. Most of the current debt is for the lawmakers' own educations, but some of the debt is in the form of loans for the parents of students, or co-signing the loans of children.



Monday, February 11, 2013 - 3:00am

Annette Schavan resigned as Germany's education minister on Saturday, days after Heinrich Heine University revoked her doctorate, the Associated Press reported. The university found that portions of her dissertation had been plagiarized, a charge that Schavan has denied.


Monday, February 11, 2013 - 4:19am

A tornado hit several buildings at the University of Southern Mississippi Sunday, causing significant damage but no injuries. The Sun Herald ran photographs of some of the buildings, and other parts of the campus hit by the tornado.

Monday, February 11, 2013 - 3:00am

Utah Valley University sent an e-mail offer of full scholarships to 344 applicants in January, but it turns out that only 40 of them were eligible for -- and can receive --  the awards, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The scholarships are for students with least 27 on the ACT and who have grade-point averages of at least 3.7. But the university accidentally sent the e-mail to all of those who met the ACT requirement, most of whom didn't meet the G.P.A. requirement. The university has apologized for making the offer (and not providing the funds) to those not eligible.


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