Higher Education Quick Takes
The Texas A&M University Student Senate has approved a recommendation to the administration that students be given the option of "opting out" of paying student fees that support groups that are contrary to the students' religious views, KBTX News reported. The proposal first said only that students should be able to opt out of supporting a gay campus center on campus, but the measure was renamed and broadened when some said that the idea was anti-gay. Critics say that the proposal is still anti-gay. Supporters say that students shouldn't have any of their fee money go to groups that are contrary to their religious views.
Liberty University has eased gun rules on campus, The News & Advance reported. Until now, people with concealed-carry permits were allowed to bring guns on campus, but not into buildings. Under the new rules, guns may be brought into any buildings except dormitories. "I think it’s good that Liberty is a little more open than some schools, and I think it’ll continue to create a higher level of security on campus than what was found at Virginia Tech,” said Jerry Falwell Jr., the university's chancellor.
edX, the provider of massive open online courses, will offer free test-grading software, The New York Times reported. Officials at edX said that the service will use artificial intelligence to grade short essay answers, and thus would allow faculty members to focus on other subjects. Many experts on writing dispute the claims that such grading is educationally sound.
Click here to propose a caption for April's edition of Inside Higher Ed's Cartoon Caption Contest. The three entries that our experts' panel likes best will be put to a vote by our readers, and the winner will receive a $75 Amazon gift certificate and a copy of the cartoon signed by Matthew Henry Hall.
You can also click here to vote on the three captions nominated by our judges as finalists for our March cartoon.
And congratulations to the winner of our February contest: Alan F. Edwards Jr., director of policy studies for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Find out more about him and his submission by visiting this link.
One of the negative impacts of budget cuts on California community colleges in recent years has been the elimination of many (and, on some campuses, of most) summer courses, which for many students are key to completing their programs. The Oakland Tribune reported that, with the restoration of some cuts because of a tax measure approved by voters in November, this summer will be better. Chabot College will have 50 more courses this summer than last. The Peralta Community College District is adding back 70. Some college report that they will be back to their 2010 levels of offerings.
New York City's comptroller, John C. Liu, and the city's pension funds this week announced that they have filed shareholder proposals calling on DeVry University and Career Education Corp. to disclose data on student borrowing that is roughly the equivalent of what would have been required under the now-stalled federal "gainful employment" regulations. The funds are investors in both for-profit institutions, and can therefore introduce requests that are considered by shareholders. Career Education had sought to bar a vote on the proposal, according to Liu's office, but the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ruled against the company.
Massachusetts is suing Sullivan & Cogliano Training Centers Inc., charging it with false advertising, The Boston Globe reported. The state says that Sullivan & Coglian advertised that 70 percent to 100 percent of graduates found jobs in a medical office, when the actual figure is less than 25 percent. “For-profit schools are extremely expensive and heavily funded through federal student loans, so all taxpayers have a stake in this,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement cited by the newspaper. “If students do not receive these promised jobs and wind up in default, the students and taxpayers suffer the consequence while the schools continue to profit.” Sullivan & Cogliano did not respond to requests for comment on the suit.
Mike Rice, who was fired Wednesday as men's basketball coach at Rutgers University after video exposed the abusive way he had treated players, will be getting a $100,000 bonus, the Associated Press reported. Under his contract, he is due the bonus for completing the basketball season that just ended. Had the university fired him in December, when the athletics director saw the video and opted only to suspend Rice, the coach would not have been entitled to the bonus.
The former president of one of North Dakota's public universities has urged the region's accreditor to investigate recent actions by the state's public higher education system and its new chancellor, The Grand Forks Herald reported. In a complaint to the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Ellen Chaffee, president emerita of Valley City State University and a consultant on college governance, expressed her "grave" concerns over the direction the State Board of Higher Education has taken since Hamid Shirvani became chancellor last summer. She cited a range of alleged violations of the commission's standards on governance and a destructive personal style on Shirvani's part. A spokeswoman for the North Dakota system told the newspaper that Chaffee's complaint appeared to be based on rumor and misinformation.