Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 3:00am

In the middle of 2011, the regional accrediting agency for California threatened to yank approval from Trident University International unless the online for-profit institution could reassure the accreditor that it had overcome serious problems involving transfer students that raised questions about its integrity. Last month, the senior college commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges said it had been largely persuaded that Trident had turned the situation around. In a letter to the institution's president, Lucille Sansing, Ralph Wolff, president of the Western agency, said that after dropping TUI from "show cause" status (in which institutions are required to prove why their accreditation should not be stripped) in March 2012, the commission had taken the university off of probation last month, citing "significant progress" on a range of problem areas.

Trident, which was Touro University's online arm before being sold to a private equity firm in 2007, fell into disfavor with WASC after it failed to ensure that students transferring in had fulfilled their general education requirements and, more importantly, failed to tell the accreditor about the problem.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 4:25am

A new analysis from California Watch suggests that California's cash-strapped community colleges could save millions of dollars by sharing administrators. "More than half of the state’s community college districts are within 20 miles of another district. And the vast majority of those districts have a single college," says the report. Some of those quoted in the report say that such colleges should be combined into new districts at the same time, saving time and money on governing boards as well.

 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 4:28am

Columbia University on Monday announced two winners of the Bancroft Prize for books about history. The winners are:

  • W. Jeffrey Bolster, associate professor of history at the University of New Hampshire, for The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012).
  • John Fabian Witt, Allen H. Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law at Yale University, for Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History (Free Press, 2012).

 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 3:00am

The U.S. Justice Department has announced a settlement with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey over complaints that its medical school and osteopathic medical school discriminated against students with Hepatitis B. The medical schools revoked the acceptance of students with Hepatitis B, and the Justice Department found this to be illegal discrimination based on disability because no requirements of the medical school programs would have created any dangers by the participation of students with Hepatitis B. The university's action "contradicts" guidance on the issue from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Justice Department statement said. The university has agreed to admit the students and to compensate them for what happened.

 

Monday, March 18, 2013 - 3:00am

Three students at Senegal's largest university, the University of Cheikh Anta Diop, set themselves on fire Friday, as protests escalated over the way credits are counted in the geography department, the Associated Press reported. The students survived because friends threw sand on them to put out the fires. The changes in the credit rules have the effect, the students said, of forcing them to spend another year at the university, instead of graduating. Other students are on a hunger strike over the issue.

 

Monday, March 18, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Stephen Pirog of Seton Hall University explains the strong bond between many young people and their smartphones. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Monday, March 18, 2013 - 3:00am

Bev Kearney, a highly successful women's track coach at the University of Texas at Austin, has filed complaints alleging gender and racial discrimination in her ouster, The Dallas Morning News reported. Kearney resigned under pressure in December after disclosing that she had a relationship with an athlete in her program in 2002. The complaints were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Texas Workforce Commission. Supporters of Kearney have argued that she is being held to a higher standard than are male coaches. While the university recently announced it was studying policies about coaches and their relationships with students, it did not seek the resignation of an assistant football coach who admitted that he had a one-night-stand with a student athletic trainer four years ago.


 

 

Monday, March 18, 2013 - 3:00am

New Hampshire's Higher Education Commission extended its approval of the troubled St. John International University, in Italy, until June 30, at its meeting last week. This is the second such short-term extension the commission has granted, as members requested that the for-profit institution present additional information on enrollment and financial data at their May meeting.

A site visit team described the financial fragility of the institution and high turnover of senior staff. It issued 15 recommendations, including the hiring of a president and provost with American higher education experience. 

The team's report also notes that several members of St. John’s board -- which mostly consists of prominent New Hampshire residents – have not visited the campus. The institution has fielded multiple lawsuits from former employees for breach of contract or unpaid wages.

Monday, March 18, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of Glasgow has launched a new plan to promote the teaching and learning of Gaelic and increase the use of Gaelic, alongside English, in university communications. The university's principal and vice chancellor, Anton Muscatelli, said in a statement that Glasgow “aspires to securing the status of Gaelic as an official language of Scotland.”

Monday, March 18, 2013 - 3:00am

The top two leaders of the University of California System Academic Senate on Friday released a letter expressing "grave concerns" about California legislation proposed last week to require the state's public higher education systems to grant transfer credit for courses or programs provided by an approved pool of providers, potentially including programs that are for-profit and have never been accredited. Supporters of the plan say that it will deal with the state's serious capacity issues in which qualified students can't get into the courses they need to graduate.

Robert L. Powell, the chair of the system's Academic Senate, and Bill Jacob, the vice chair, on Friday released a joint letter reacting to the proposal. The letter stated that the leaders of the Academic Senate were not consulted as the legislation was drafted, and went on to identify several concerns.

The faculty leaders state: "First, limits on student access to the courses this bill targets are in large part the result of significant reductions in public state higher education funding, especially over the last six years. Second, the clear self-interest of for profit corporations in promoting the privatization of public higher education through this legislation is dismaying. In fact, UC’s graduation rates and time to degree performance show that access to courses for our students is not an acute issue as it may be in the other segments. Lastly, the faculty of the University of California, through the Academic Senate, approves courses for credit at the University and reviews courses offered for transfer credit to determine whether they cover the same material with equal rigor. There is no possibility that UC faculty will shirk its responsibility to our students by ceding authority over courses to any outside agency."

The letter adds that the "Academic Senate is committed to exploring how important measures of student success, such as graduation rates and time-to-degree, can be improved." And the letter notes that faculty leaders have backed initiatives that include the expansion of online course offerings by the university. But the letter stressed the role of professors. "There is no alternative to the deep involvement of faculty in courses and curricula and the validation provided by rigorous and continuing review of these," it says.

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