Higher Education Quick Takes
Eastern Michigan University is apologizing after sending an expulsion notice intended for about 100 students to many more who were not in fact being expelled, the Associated Press reported. The university isn't sure how many people received the notice, but the group includes some recent graduates.
Ohio State University has spent more than $800,000 on President Gordon Gee's travel expenses since 2007, including more than $550,000 in the last two years, The Dayton Daily News reported. Ohio State officials noted the value of Gee's travel, in reaching donors and others, and in spreading the word about Ohio State across the world. But the newspaper noted that Gee's travel expenses exceeded not only those of two Ohio governors, but also of the presidents of other big public universities with global ambitions and intense fund-raising efforts -- the Universities of Michigan, North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Virginia.
The Education Department is increasingly relying on collection agencies to obtain funds from those who have defaulted on student loans, but the department is failing to monitor complaints about these agencies, says a new report from the National Consumer Law Center. The center "found that contractors do not maintain accessible complaint systems and some agencies ignore the department’s minimum requirements for handling borrower grievances," the report says. "Overall, the complaint systems used by some collectors display a haphazard approach to resolving borrower disputes. The department also has failed to inform borrowers of the resources available through the agency to address complaints."
Chester College employees overwhelmingly passed a critical report on President Robert Baines on Monday, saying the institution’s dire financial situation is due to mismanagement at the highest levels. (Separately, the institution's board affirmed its confidence in Baines in a unanimous vote.)
Every non-adjunct faculty member and all but one staff member signed the 15-point vote of no confidence that said the college’s $750,000 deficit and possible closure “were preventable had the president fulfilled his responsibilities and had the board of trustees held him accountable.”
Baines said the anger is understandable, but that he's confident he handled a difficult situation as best he could while enrollment fell and infrastructure crumbled.
The 119-student arts college in New Hampshire must find hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to stay open next fall. Initial fund-raising efforts had yielded $87,000 as of Sunday, encouraging faculty and student leaders but leaving them far short of their ultimate goal.
Among the criticisms of Baines were his failure to raise funds and his slow speed in alerting employees and students to the magnitude of the financial situation. The petition accuses him of saying, “You cannot fund-raise for a sinking ship.”
He disputes ever saying "sinking ship," but said the concept is accurate enough. "It’s very difficult to go out and raise money with the financial situation we’re in," he said. Efforts to find a partner to take over the campus fell through because many of the college's facilities are in disrepair, Baines said.
The no-confidence vote concedes that Chester’s closure is a possibility, and the document outlines employee efforts to help students transition to a new college should that become necessary. But the document expresses hope Chester can be saved – alluding to pledges of $600,000 in donations over the next six years -- and asks that Baines step aside should the college survive.
The national accrediting agency for Career Education Corp. on Monday decided not to pursue penalties against 71 campuses that had been under review over reported problems with job placement rates. Four campuses, however, were placed on probation. The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools had asked the for-profit higher education provider to demonstrate that its job-placement reporting was adequate after a recent review by an outside law firm found that some campuses lacked sufficient documentation. Career Education's president and CEO, Gary E. McCullough, resigned shortly after that news broke. Steven H. Lesnik, the new CEO, said in a news release that the company "had made great strides" but would continue to improve student job placement results.
Both houses of Connecticut's legislature on Friday passed a bill that would require public colleges to embed remedial education in credit-bearing courses, with extra tutoring and assistance for students who need remedial help. The bill had worried some in the state, who felt that abolishing all remedial classes would be unworkable, considering the learning deficiencies of some students. However, the State Senate included an amendment that would allow for one semester of standalone remediation, assuaging some concerns about the bill, which now goes to the state's governor for his consideration.
The University of California at Berkeley on Friday fired Diane Leite, formerly an assistant vice chancellor, who was demoted previously but not fired when word surfaced that she had helped triple the pay of her lover, also a Berkeley employee, The San Jose Mercury News reported. When the scandal first broke, many Berkeley faculty members expressed shock that she wasn't fired immediately. Leite did not return calls and her lawyer declined to comment.
Rutgers University charges its students nearly $1,000 each a year -- more than the charges at any other university -- to finance football, Bloomberg reported. The total comes from an analysis by the news service based on student fees and direct university funding for the football program. Officials at Rutgers have said for years that investments in athletics would pay for themselves in the end, but many faculty and student groups have charged that the university spends too much on athletics.
Sweet Briar College, faced with financial difficulties caused by lower than desired enrollment levels, is shrinking its faculty, and eliminating two majors, The Lynchburg News & Advance reported. The college has 605 students, but has room on campus for 750-800. Sweet Briar plans to cut the equivalent of 11 full-time faculty positions (though some of the cuts will be of part-timers), bringing the faculty size down to the equivalent of 85 full-time positions. The majors that will be eliminated are German and engineering management. Sweet Briar has been struggling with attracting more students since 2009.