Higher Education Quick Takes
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has announced he will sign legislation headed to his desk that will eliminate legislative scholarships, GateHouse News Service reported. The scholarships -- in which legislators give away scholarships to public universities -- have long been controversial but have survived many previous attempts to kill them. "There is no place for a political scholarship program in Illinois,” the governor said in a statement. “As I have repeatedly advocated, scholarships -- paid for by Illinois taxpayers – should be awarded only to those with merit who are in true financial need. Abolishing this program is the right thing to do."
The University of Notre Dame has joined 42 other Roman Catholic institutions -- including three other colleges -- in filing suit against the Obama administration over a rule that would require most religious institutions to offer employee (and student) health insurance plans that cover contraception at no cost. Colleges, Catholic dioceses, charities and other organizations filed 12 separate lawsuits Monday, alleging that the requirement infringes on their religious freedom. Catholic University of America and St. Francis University also sued, as did Franciscan University of Steubenville, which recently chose to discontinue its student health plan rather than offer insurance covering contraception.
Also on Monday, Ave Maria University announced that it would stop offering student health insurance rather than comply with the federal rules, The News-Press reported.
Religious institutions have sparred with the Obama administration for months over the call to include contraceptive services as part of a broad array of preventive medical care. A compromise -- that insurers, not institutions, would pay for the contraceptive coverage -- did little to quell the outrage among Catholic and some evangelical Protestant colleges, who view the new mandate as an assault on religious freedom.
An audit by the Los Angeles Community College District has found that nearly $100,000 in checks to the head of the Los Angeles Trade Tech foundation may have been forged, The Los Angeles Times reported. The forgery is of the signature of Trade Tech's president, Roland Chapdelaine. Rhea Chung, the foundation head, is on leave pending an investigation, but has denied all wrongdoing and said that checks she received were appropriate. The auditors said that they could not say who may have forged the president's signature.
Groups representing English-language training programs for international students are objecting to a new federal interpretation requiring separate accreditation both for free-standing programs and those affiliated with colleges and universities that have their own accreditation. The Department of Homeland Security is interpreting a new law to require both types of institutions to have their own accreditation. But a joint statement from the American Association of Intensive English Programs and University and College Intensive English Programs asks for clarification to specify that programs that are part of an accredited college or university should not need separate accreditation. Accreditors review such programs, the statement says, and other federal laws recognize this accreditation.
E-mail records obtained by The Missoulian suggest that Jim Foley, vice president of the University of Montana, asked the then-dean of students if there was a way to punish the victim of an alleged rape for speaking out about the incident. “Is it not a violation of the student code of conduct for the woman to be publicly talking about the process and providing details about the conclusion?” Foley asked in an e-mail obtained through an open-records request. In another e-mail to the then-dean of students, Foley expressed dismay that an alleged incident involving four football players and a woman was being described in the press as a "gang rape." (University officials had been using the term "date rape.") The dean responded that the term "gang rape" was being used "because that is what it was." The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating how the university has handled a series of sexual assault allegations. Foley did not respond to requests from the newspaper for comments on the e-mail messages.
A week after a federal judge rejected most of the claims brought by three publishers against Georgia State University, the Association of American University Presses issued a statement that raised questions about the decision. Librarians in higher education have generally cheered the decision -- which focuses on e-reserves -- for rejecting the publishers' claims. But the university press association, which has backed the publishers, said it was "premature and unwise for anyone to declare victory or defeat." At the same time, the association said of the ruling: "[I]ts interpretation of the law is controversial and unprecedented in several important respects, and it appears to make a number of assertions of fact that are not supported by the trial record."
Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, gave a talk Friday to graduates of Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute, despite opposition from some Roman Catholic groups. Critics said that Sebelius's involvement in the Obama administration's health care policies -- including requirements that employees have access to birth control coverage, contrary to Roman Catholic teachings -- made her an inappropriate speaker at a Catholic institution. During her appearance, one audience member stood up and shouted "You're a murderer" at Sebelius, The Washington Post reported, but she continued to speak and received an "enthusiastic" response from the graduates. In her talk, Sebelius said that a "process of conversation and compromise" is required when dealing with religious issues and public policy.
Of those graduating with new M.B.A.s this year, 62 percent report that they had a job offer, according to a survey being released today by the Graduate Management Admission Council. That represents an increase from 54 percent last year. The most popular industries in which M.B.A. graduates looked for jobs were products and services, consulting and finance/accounting. The products and services sector yielded the fewest job offers, but also saw the highest increase in salary from pre-degree to post-degree earnings (75 percent).