Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, December 5, 2011 - 3:00am

A judge in Washington State ruled Friday that Seattle Central Community College may evict Occupy movement protesters who have been camping at the college for more than a month, The Seattle Times reported. The college recently adopted a "no camping" rule that the judge upheld. The Occupy Seattle encampment is not primarily focused on the college, but on general issues of economic inequality. College officials adopted the rule after saying that they were facing clean-up charges and security issues -- in part because of non-students attracted to the encampment. The article reported that the college may not have to enforce its new rule because the protesters appear to be moving to an abandoned warehouse elsewhere.

Monday, December 5, 2011 - 3:00am

Who is headed to the White House today for the meeting with President Obama on college costs and productivity?

According to a representative of a higher education association, the group will include the leaders of three state university systems: Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York; Francisco Cigarroa, chancellor of the University of Texas System; and William E. (Brit) Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. Three more are drawn from public universities: Holden Thorp, chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland at Baltimore County; and F. King Alexander, president of California State University at Long Beach. One is from a community college: Thomas Snyder, president of Ivy Tech Community College, the Indiana community college system.

And leaders of three very different private nonprofit colleges round out the list of presidents: Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University; Larry Shinn, president of Berea College; and Robert Mendenhall, president of Western Governors University.

Jane Wellman, the founder and executive director of the Delta Project on Postsecondary Costs, Productivity and Accountability, is also attending, as is Jamie Merisotis, president of the Lumina Foundation. Wellman and Merisotis testified Wednesday at a House of Representatives subcommittee hearing on rising college prices. 

Monday, December 5, 2011 - 3:00am

Clayton Spencer -- a key figure in higher education policy setting -- was named Sunday as the next president of Bates College. Spencer is currently vice president for policy at Harvard University, and previously served as associate vice president for higher education policy there. From 1993 to 1997, she was the education counsel on the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, where she worked for the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

Spencer takes over as the president of a private liberal arts college at a time of increased national scrutiny of college costs -- including a White House meeting today. At a press briefing Sunday, she said that she anticipated working to raise more money for financial aid in part because she doesn't think colleges like Bates are going to become less expensive. As long as liberal arts colleges focus on providing a high quality education, with top faculty members, small classes and a full residential experience, she said, "I don't see a way to make that fundamentally, structurally less expensive." But she said that increasing financial aid is essential, given that the sticker prices at institutions like Bates (total costs exceed $55,000) would otherwise seem too high to many prospective students and families.

 

Friday, December 2, 2011 - 3:00am

The quality of data used to inform state policy decisions on education has improved, according to a new analysis from the Data Quality Campaign, but still lags in many areas. For example, only a few states are using broad data on whether students need remediation in college. Also of concern are efforts to track workforce development: 38 states are not adequately matching and sharing data between colleges and the workforce.

Friday, December 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Inadequate and diluted resources at the state regulatory level have led to lax oversight of for-profit colleges, according to a new report from the National Consumer Law Center, and those regulatory gaps have contributed to fraud and other problems. The Boston-based consumer advocacy group found that regulators are often understaffed, particularly in Delaware, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Washington and Wyoming. The report also claims state for-profit supervisory boards often include industry representatives, sometimes even a majority hailing from for-profits, which is a conflict of interest that gives the industry "undue influence."

Friday, December 2, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jill Lany of the University of Notre Dame explains the complex nature of an infant's ability to learn language. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.


 
Friday, December 2, 2011 - 3:00am

A black student at the University of South Carolina at Beaufort has set off a campus debate by displaying the Confederate flag in his dormitory window, the Associated Press reported. The student removed the flag at the request of university officials, but is now considering a return of the flag. While many see the flag as a symbol of white supremacy, Bryon Thomas disagrees. "When I look at this flag, I don't see racism. I see respect, Southern pride," he said. But Thomas added that "I know it's kind of weird because I'm black."

Friday, December 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Barbara D. Savage, a professor of history and American social thought at the University of Pennsylvania, has been named winner of the 2012 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion. Savage was honored for her 2008 book Your Spirits Walk Beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion (Harvard University Press). The award is given jointly by the University of Louisville and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Friday, December 2, 2011 - 3:00am

The Justice Department has started a probe of the multibillion-dollar collegiate licensing industry, USA Today reported. The IMG College Licensing Company -- the dominant player in the field -- confirmed that it is cooperating with an investigation into how colleges market their logos and names for the sale of clothing and other items. Details of the inquiry were not available, but some have charged that IMG and colleges have tried to limit the number of manufacturers in the field.

Friday, December 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Pennsylvania State University, still reeling from the recent sex-abuse scandal, announced Thursday that it will give $1.5 million to groups with which the university will form partnerships to fight the sexual abuse of children. The money will come from Penn State's share of Big Ten bowl revenue.

 

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