Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 27, 2013

A report by an outside law firm -- commissioned by Yeshiva University -- has confirmed reports of numerous incidents of sexual abuse of students at the university's high school for boys. "The investigative team has concluded that multiple incidents of varying types of sexual and physical abuse took place at [the high school] during the relevant time period. This conduct was carried out by a number of individuals in positions of authority ... including, in certain instances, after members of the administration had been made aware of such conduct. In addition, the investigative team found that, during the relevant time period, sexual and physical abuse took place at other schools comprising the university as well.... The
investigative team found that, up until 2001, there were multiple instances in which the university either failed to appropriately act to protect the safety of its students or did not respond to the allegations at all." The report noted improvements after 2001 and since the scandal over the sex abuse charges became public.

Originally, the university said that the entire report would be released, but it provided only a summary, citing issues raised by suits filed against Yeshiva.

A statement from Richard M. Joel, the president (who was not president at the time of the abuse allegations), said: "There are findings set forth in this report that serve as a source of profound shame and sadness for our institution. On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire University community, I express my deepest and most heartfelt remorse, and truly hope that our recognition of these issues provides some level of comfort and closure to the victims."

August 27, 2013

In unveiling his ambitious higher education plan last week, President Obama once again framed his desire to make college more affordable as a personal mission, reminding the audience at the State University of New York at Buffalo of his own experience with a hefty load of student loan debt.  

Obama took out $42,753 in loans to pay his tuition at Harvard Law School, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. First Lady Michelle Obama went $40,762 in debt to finance her Harvard Law education. It was not until after Obama signed a $1.9 million book deal in 2004 -- the year he was elected to the U.S. Senate -- that the couple paid off all of their student loans, according to the Sun-Times. The Obamas’ law school debt came on top of their existing undergraduate loans (he from Occidental College and Columbia University and she from Princeton University) add of undergrad institutions ok? dl ** yes, thanks -ms and pushed their combined outstanding balance at graduation above $120,000, Obama has previously said.

Both the president and first lady also attended law school for three years -- an amount of time that Obama last week urged law schools to consider shortening to two years to reduce the cost for students. nice. dl

August 27, 2013

Temple University announced Monday that it will no longer sponsor the annual "Spring Fling," a festival of games and special events that has been held on campus each spring and that has also been a date for off-campus parties -- including one at which a student died last year. "A dangerous culture of high-risk drinking has infiltrated the event, undermining our academic mission and our duty to safeguard student health and wellness," said a statement from Stephanie Ives, dean of students. The university statement noted that the event started at a time that the university was largely a commuter institution, and that the university has changed considerably since then.

In April, during the last Spring Fling, Ali Fausnaught, 19, a freshman at West Chester University, fell three stories to her death at an off-campus house party, The Philadelphia Daily News reported. She had been visiting her boyfriend, a Temple student, and rooftop parties have become part of the off-campus tradition.

 

August 27, 2013

Lynn University has announced that it will no longer require the SAT or ACT from undergraduate applicants. Via e-mail, Gareth P. Fowles, vice president for enrollment management, said that while the university "recognizes that standardized tests are able to accurately measure the aptitude for a certain group of students ...  we believe that standardized tests do not always reflect the true potential of all students." Applicants who are home schooled or who plan to participate in intercollegiate athletics will continue to be required to submit test scores.

August 27, 2013

All 25,000 people who took the entrance exam for the University of Liberia failed this year, BBC reported. A university official said that most students "lacked enthusiasm and did not have a basic grasp of English," the BBC report said.

 

August 27, 2013

For the second time this month, a new student has won free tuition with a half-court basketball shot. The first success was at Ball State University. Now Colorado State University -- where four coaches will foot the bill for a year of in-state tuition -- is celebrating the success of Andrew Schneeweis.

 

 

August 27, 2013

The University System of Maryland will this fall launch a pilot project to gauge the efficiency of open educational resources (OER), James Jalandoni, president of the system's student council, said on Monday. 

"We have made it a priority to start tackling the issue of textbook costs and the impact they have on college affordability," Jalandoni said. "We have gotten a lot of enthusiastic support throughout our system and the state, from faculty to administrators. Obviously our students are really passionate about this." Though he did not mention specifics, Jalandoni said the student council has spoken to organizations and universities that have experimented with OER "to create a model that is best suited for Maryland."

"Within the new couple of weeks, we hope to be finalizing when everything’s going to be happening," Jalandoni said.

August 26, 2013

A July letter to President Obama and Congress calling for steps to close the "innovation deficit" now includes a new signatory: Purdue University President Mitch Daniels. The letter was signed by scores of university presidents, and its emphasis on federal funding for research and technology made joining the push an easy call for most higher ed leaders. But faculty members at Purdue -- an institution whose academic strengths in the sciences mean its professors depend on federal support -- noted that Daniels didn't sign. In his pre-Purdue political career, Daniels was known as a budget hawk and he has repeatedly raised concerns about the size of the federal deficit. He explained that he didn't sign the letter because of "its complete omission of any recognition of the severe fiscal condition in which the nation finds itself."

Now, however, he has signed. He explained in a statement that he only recently learned that the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities -- the two groups that coordinated the July letter -- last year released a statement noting their broad concerns about the federal budget deficits. Said Daniels: "I regret that I was unaware of last year’s excellent letter. If it had been attached, restated or incorporated by reference, I would gladly have signed the more recent letter. Now that I have confirmed with the APLU president that last year’s stance remains in effect, I am in full support of the AAU and APLU efforts."

August 26, 2013

The American Association of University Professors on Saturday released a statement strongly questioning President Obama's proposal to evaluate colleges and favor those with high graduation rates and low costs in the availability of Pell Grants and generous terms on student loans. "The solution to the current crisis in higher education, characterized by rising tuition and student debt, is not a report card based on poorly defined metrics," said the statement, by Rudy Fichtenbaum, president of the AAUP. "Albert Einstein was reported to have said, 'Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.' In his rush to measure the performance of higher education institutions the president should remember this maxim. The creation of so-called report cards based on graduation rates and earnings of graduates from colleges that serve diverse student populations will result in a race to the bottom, driving public universities and non-elite private universities to standardize their curricula to insure they get a passing grade. For millions of working class and middle class students, particularly students of color, the president’s plan will result in a decline in the quality of higher education, in the name of increasing graduation rates.If we were truly interested in increasing graduation rates, we would provide more funding for K-12 education to insure that students were better prepared for college. If we were truly interested in controlling or reducing tuition, we would increase public funding of higher education both at the state and federal level by taxing the rich, particularly the top 1 percent who have benefited disproportionately from government bailouts and have been the recipients of the lion’s share of income growth since the 1970s."

 

August 26, 2013

Indiana University at Bloomington spent weeks investigating -- and issued a reprimand over -- a tirade by Michelle Gardner, coach of the softball team, against her players, The Indianapolis Star reported. The star said she yelled at players one by one, shouting things like "we suck" and mocking players for saying they prayed, saying "God doesn't care if we win or lose. He has bigger things to worry about." Although the coach apologized the next day, many players were shaken. The coach told the newspaper in a statement: “I truly regret losing my composure and blowing up at my team and staff ... It was wrong and uncharacteristic of me to do so."

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