Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 3:00am

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Monday released the procedures the agency will use to scrutinize lenders of private student loans, as well as the servicers for federally guaranteed loans, to ensure that they are complying with existing banking regulations. Such "examinations," intended to uncover and, if necessary, penalize companies that violate consumer protection laws, have led to heavy fines for credit card companies, and the agency is also examining mortgage lenders and big banks. libby -- here or somewhere, can you add some language along the lines of what we discussed? "While the guidance published Monday does not give the agency any new powers, it clears the way for it to begin what is expected to be more aggressive pursuit of private lenders and servicers." or something like that? dl

The bureau will look into whether private lenders and servicers comply with a range of federal lending laws, including the Truth in Lending Act, which went into effect in 2009 and required additional disclosures for private student loans, as well as lenders' marketing and underwriting standards. The procedures mention servicing issues for borrowers trying to enroll in federal programs that allow borrowers to make income-based repayments, as well as laws governing lending to active-duty members of the military.

The bureau has focused on student loans (as well as mortgages, credit cards and other financial instruments) since it opened in summer 2011. In July, the bureau issued a sweeping report on private student loans that recommended Congress investigate restoring bankruptcy privileges for those loans. In October, the bureau's student loan ombudsman issued his own report on issues facing student borrowers.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 3:00am

The board that governs Florida's public universities -- charged by the Legislature with weighing the state's options for expanding access through the use of online education -- weighed in on a consultant's report that suggested a range of possibilities, and kept open the prospect of creating a freestanding 13th university that would operate only online. At a meeting Monday, a strategic planning committee of the Florida Board of Governors heard a report from the Parthenon Group that suggested four possibilities, ranging from retaining the status quo (in which institutions would continue to provide their own offerings independently) to creating a separate institution. The Miami Herald reported that the board seemed to largely reject the status quo, and did not reject the idea of creating a new institution, despite opposition from the provosts of existing universities, who in a letter expressed concerns about dilution of resources and competition.

The idea that got the most support during the board's discussion, according to the Herald, was a hybrid of the consultant's other two recommendations, involving more systemwide collaboration or allowing one or more existing institutions to take the lead on creating new programs.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 3:00am

Columbia University on Monday announced that Mortimer B. Zuckerman has pledged $200 million to endow a Mind Brain Behavior Institute to support interdisciplinary neuroscience research. The institute will involve faculty members from Columbia's arts and sciences, engineering and medical colleges.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Northern Alabama has dismissed Bradley Patterson from the football team for a Twitter post in which he used a racial slur to refer to President Obama, USA Today reported. The tweet came during President Obama's address on his trip to meet family members of the victims of Friday's Connecticut school shooting, and complained about the speech pre-empting a football game on television.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 4:25am

Twenty-two members of a fraternity at Northern Illinois University have been charged with violating hazing laws in the death of a freshman, The Chicago Tribune reported. The freshman died after participating in an event in which he went from room to room in the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, and answered questions in each room, and was then given vodka and other liquor.

Monday, December 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Purdue University announced Saturday that the compensation for its incoming president -- Mitchell E. Daniels, who is wrapping up his tenure as Indiana's governor -- will represent a reduction in spending. The previous president's total compensation was $555,000, including deferred compensation. Daniels is eligible to earn up to $546,000, but only with achievement of specific goals and without deferred compensation. His base pay will be $420,000 -- and he will be eligible to earn the rest by meeting specific goals related to student affordability, graduation and student achievement, strategic program development with demonstrated student outcomes in knowledge and understanding, philanthropic support, and faculty excellence and recognition. Keith Krach, board chair at Purdue, said it would be difficult for Daniels to meet the goals in all areas.

Monday, December 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Two students have sued the University of Delaware in federal court, charging that the university is violating their First Amendment rights by barring them from selling T-shirts that say (similar to a taunt used on opposing athletic teams) "U can suck our D," The News Journal reported. The university maintains that its objection is based on trademark infringement, and not the content of the T-shirt.


Monday, December 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Connecticut, Middlebury and Williams Colleges on Friday announced a new effort to diversify the faculties of liberal arts colleges. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is providing funds for the colleges to work with Columbia University and the University of California at Berkeley to organize an annual event where students at 23 liberal arts colleges will learn about graduate school opportunities at research universities and careers for those who earn doctorates, create research internships at the two universities for under-represented students at the colleges, and create postdoctoral fellowships for new Ph.D.s at the universities to experience life at liberal arts colleges.


Monday, December 17, 2012 - 3:00am

More than 30 years ago, Georgetown, Villanova and a group of other universities with Roman Catholic heritages and high-profile basketball programs reshaped the college sports landscape by banding together to form the Big East Conference, challenging the domination of the traditional powers like the Big Ten, Atlantic Coast, and Pacific-10 Conferences. Saturday, having seen their influence erode as the Big East focused on building its football relevance, seven basketball-playing Catholic universities announced that they would head out on their own, probably forming a new league that could end up bearing the Big East name.

The leaders of the universities (DePaul, Marquette, Providence, St. John's and Seton Hall, in addition to Georgetown and Villanova) had watched with dismay in the middle of the last decade as the Big East expanded far beyond its Northeast base to add institutions (like the University of Miami and Virginia Tech) known far more for their football prowess than their basketball success. But when the latest round of football-driven conference realignment cranked up two years ago, other leagues picked away at Big East powers such as Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh, leaving the Big East significantly vulnerable even as it added football-playing members from as far away as Louisiana and Idaho.

The departure of Georgetown and the others will further diminish the Big East's historical relevance as a basketball league, and could result in the conference needing a new name, as the departing Big East members -- whose new league could include institutions such as Butler and Xavier Universities, according to news reports -- could stake a claim to the Big East name.

Monday, December 17, 2012 - 3:00am

The American Economic Association saw a 2.7 percent rise in the number of job announcements for Ph.D.s during 2012, continuing a pattern of recovery from sharp drops as the economic downturn started in 2008. Economics is a discipline where those with doctorates have long had considerable opportunities in the business and finance world, not just in academe. This year's numbers show a 5.7 percent increase for jobs in academe, and a 3.6 percent drop for nonacademic positions. As has been the case in recent years, the top field of specialization in job postings (by far) was mathematical and quantitative methods. That was followed by (in order) microeconomics, international economics and macroeconomics.


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