Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, December 12, 2011 - 3:00am

The successful lobbying campaign by for-profit higher education to scale back the Obama administration's "gainful employment" regulations is no secret, but an article Saturday in The New York Times provided an in-depth look at the effort:

  • For-profit colleges and associations spent more than $16 million on lobbying, with much of the money going to Democrats with ties to the White House.
  • The biggest spender in the lobbying effort was The Washington Post Company, owner of Kaplan University ($1.71 million), followed by the Coalition for Educational Success ($1.65 million), Career Education Corporation ($1.60 million), the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities ($1.45 million), and the Apollo Group ($1.43 million).
Monday, December 12, 2011 - 3:00am

The Internal Revenue Service has denied tax-exempt status to an unnamed foundation that provides scholarships to students who seek to enroll in college credit study programs. The foundation's board of directors own a separate online education company that provides test-preparation materials. As a result, the IRS determined that the scholarship fund operates in the interests of the for-profit company.

Monday, December 12, 2011 - 3:00am

Joseph Diaz, a Ph.D. student in philosophy at Emory University, has posted an account of his arrest last week in the university's library. According to his account, he tried to help a homeless woman he knows who frequents the library when he saw police talking to her, and the police then roughly demanded his identification and -- unhappy he didn't provide it instantly -- arrested him. A friend who was with him made a video now on YouTube, prompting many to question the actions of Emory police:


Emory released the following statement on the incident: "Emory police officers responded to a call from library staff regarding a woman who was sitting down in the entrance vestibule of the Woodruff Library and appeared to need assistance. As the officers attempted to assess the woman’s condition, they were repeatedly interrupted by a man who said he was a student and demanded to know what they were doing. He refused repeatedly to leave the vestibule and refused to produce an ID, as Emory students are required to do upon request by university officers. The woman in distress was transported to a hospital for medical evaluation. She was not arrested. The student, identified as Joseph Diaz, was arrested for obstructing or hindering law enforcement officers. Emory is still actively gathering information about this incident."

Monday, December 12, 2011 - 3:00am

The Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland on Friday voted to endorse an "alliance" between the University of Maryland at College Park and the University of Maryland at Baltimore, but rejected the idea of merging the institutions. The idea of enhanced collaboration is generally popular with both campuses. Some supporters of College Park, the state flagship, felt it could be more of a player among research universities with the addition of the Baltimore campus, which is strong in the health professions. But many in Baltimore feared that such a move would shift too much attention to College Park, in the Washington suburbs.

Monday, December 12, 2011 - 4:29am

Rutgers University officials have said for years that big investments they were making in athletics -- such as a $102 million football stadium expansion -- were necessary for the sports program to have success on the field and to bring in money. But an analysis by The Star-Ledger found that deficits are growing, despite completion of the stadium project and football success. For instance, the newspaper found that the percentage of people paying for football tickets has dropped in the last two years from 76 percent to 59 percent. And even with the university passing out more free tickets, thousands of seats at games are empty. Last year's operating loss of more than $26 million put Rutgers in the top 10 for athletics deficits among major programs, the newspaper said.


Monday, December 12, 2011 - 3:00am

Biola University, like many institutions, holds a holiday party at which the president thanks all who work at the institution for their efforts. This year President Barry H. Corey took a nontraditional approach, inspired by the theme song of "The Brady Bunch":



Monday, December 12, 2011 - 3:00am

Ross T. Ashley has been identified as the man who shot and killed a police officer at Virginia Tech last week, and who then killed himself. Radford University, which is close to Virginia Tech, confirmed that Ashley had been a part-time student there as a business management major. Ashley is suspected in the theft of a Mercedes SUV, but authorities are still trying to figure out why he came to Virginia Tech and murdered a police officer there.

Monday, December 12, 2011 - 4:30am

An article in The Contra Costa Times explores the challenges California State University System campuses face due to high percentages of new students requiring remedial education. Starting next summer, those students will be required to take courses the summer before they enroll (either in person or online) with the goal of reducing the percentage who must focus much of their freshman year on remediation. Many faculty members, the newspaper reported, are skeptical that the summer program will be sufficient. "A 15-hour intervention is just not enough intervention when it comes to skills that should have been developed over 12 years," said Sally Murphy, a communications professor who directs general education at Cal State East Bay.

Monday, December 12, 2011 - 3:00am

The Texas Association of Business is paying for billboard advertising that focuses on low graduation rates at community colleges, calling out institutions by name, The Texas Tribune reported. The first billboard ad ran in Austin and said of Austin Community College: "4% OF ACC STUDENTS GRADUATE IN 3 YEARS. IS THAT A GOOD USE OF TAX $? TX ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESS." A new ad is focused on the community college district in Dallas.

Richard Rhodes, president of Austin Community College, said that the business group was using an inappropriate measure. He noted that only about 5.5 percent of the college's students are measured in the federal calculation of graduation rates. "People really have to understand the metrics and the data behind the metrics," Rhodes said in a college podcast. "There's a much larger story when we think about community college students and what their intent is and why they come here."

Monday, December 12, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Robin Bell of Columbia University explains the strange behavior of water beneath the glaciers of Antarctica. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.



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