London Mayor Boris Johnson is under attack for a quip suggesting that female students are still after Mrs. degrees. Times Higher Education reported that Johnson was on a panel on which Malaysia's prime minister was talking about the increasing number of women enrolling. Johnson said that women "have got to find men to marry." Twitter is full of outrage over the comment. One comment: "Women go to university to bag themselves a husband! Sure, it still being 1953!" Another: "Does this mean I can get a refund on my student loan?! Didn't find a husband at my uni... “
Higher Education Quick Takes
A federal appeals court on Monday reinstated a federal False Claims Act lawsuit brought against ITT Educational Services, Inc. by a former enrollment official. A federal judge in Indiana dismissed the suit against the for-profit higher education provider last year, saying the court did not have jurisdiction because the plaintiffs in the case were not the original source of the allegations against the company, as is required under the false claims law. The court also slapped the plaintiffs with nearly $400,000 in fines for having brought, in the judge's words, a "frivolous" lawsuit.
A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit sharply disagreed Monday. The appeals panel agreed that the False Claims Act -- in which parties sue companies or others on behalf of the federal government, claiming that the defendants have defrauded the treasury of funds and hoping to be joined by the U.S. Justice Department -- requires a suing party to come forward with allegations that were not previously in the public domain. But the Seventh Circuit court concluded that the charges made by Debra Leveski, the former employee at an ITT campus in Michigan, differed sufficiently from previously disclosed information about the company that the case can appropriately be heard by the federal court.
In directing the lower court to consider the case, and in at least temporarily reversing the financial penalties against her lawyer, the court said: "We do not know whether Leveski will ultimately prevail, nor do we state any opinion as to whether Leveski should ultimately prevail. But we do believe that Leveski should be allowed to litigate her case on the merits, and thus, sanctions for bringing a frivolous lawsuit are inappropriate."
President Obama has named 12 people to receive the National Humanities medal:
- Edward L. Ayers, president of the University of Richmond and historian of the Civil War era.
- William G. Bowen, former president of Princeton University, and author of books about higher education.
- Jill Ker Conway, former president of Smith College.
- Natalie Zemon Davis, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History Emeritus.
- Frank Deford, the sports writer.
- Joan Didion, the essayist and novelist.
- Robert D. Putnam, professor of government at Harvard University.
- Marilynne Robinson, the novelist.
- Kay Ryan, former poet laureate of the United States.
- Robert B. Silvers, co-founder of The New York Review of Books.
- Anna Deavere Smith, the actress and playwright.
- Camilo José Vergara, the photographer.
More details about the honorees may be found here.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will face a third federal investigation related to its handling of sexual assault complaints, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. The U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights -- which is already investigating complaints alleging that UNC misreported assault statistics and mishandled student complaints – said it will look into whether the university retaliated against Landen Gambill, who was charged by the campus honor court after speaking out about her rape case. OCR said in a recent "Dear Colleague" letter that taking action against students who issue complaints, either on campus or with the federal government, is illegal under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Gambill was also a party to the initial OCR complaint against UNC. An investigation commissioned by the university found no evidence of retaliation, but said UNC's honor court system is flawed and lacks administrative oversight.
Students whose parents have university degrees but are working in jobs that don't typically require such a degree were likelier than their peers to question the value of applying to college, a new study of British college-aged youth finds. The study, conducted by Britain's Strategies Society Centre and funded by Universities UK and Pearson, compares the college-going aspirations and behavior of a group of academically qualified and interested British students who considered not applying to a university and those who never had any such hesitation. It is published in the wake of the British government's decision to significantly increase tuition levels.
The report provides a wealth of information about which factors are likeliest to deter students from considering enrolling and from ultimately doing so. In general, the data back up the conventional wisdom that students from economically disadvantaged families are more likely than their peers to consider not applying to attend a university. But while having a parent with a university education generally made students less likely to express concern about applying to college, that pattern did not hold true for those at lower socioeconomic levels.
“It seems that when young people weigh up the costs and benefits of higher education, the experience of their parents is paramount,” said James Lloyd, director of the Strategic Society Centre.
Some of the wealthiest American universities are starting to invest in Africa, seeing the potential for large gains, Reuters reported. Northwestern University, with holdings in companies in Kenya and Nigeria, recently doubled its African investments. Other large endowments investing in Africa include those of the Universities of Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas and Wisconsin. Rockefeller University is expected to make such an investment this year.
WASHINGTON — The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education has sent a letter to the Education Department protesting the appointment of another interim director for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities rather than a permanent leader. The previous director, John Wilson, left in January to become president of Morehouse College. Historically black colleges have already felt under fire from the Obama administration since the Education Department tightened underwriting standards for parent PLUS loans, leading to a wave of loan denials that HBCU leaders say have fallen disproportionately on their institutions.
"The decision to have the White House Initiative on HBCUs without leadership for almost a year is confounding, especially given the administration's higher education goals and the vitally important role HBCUs must play in reaching the goals," the group wrote. "The appointment of yet another interim executive director does not bode well for the HBCU community, whose challenges are many, immediate, and likely to have lasting adverse impacts."
"We recognize the prominent role of our nation's historically black colleges and universities to provide students with a high-quality higher education and help our nation reach the 2020 goal for the U.S. to have the best educated, most competitive workforce in the world," Education Department spokesman Daren Briscoe said in a statement to Inside Higher Ed. "During this transition, we are continuing conversations to ensure the White House Initiative on HBCUs has the best leadership in place to harness the opportunities and navigate the challenges that face HBCUs today, and we are moving as quickly as possible to find a permanent executive director."
Ball State University has hired Guillermo Gonzalez -- a prominent figure in intelligent design -- as assistant professor in the department of physics and astronomy, The Star Press reported. Gonzalez was denied tenure at Iowa State University, where he said that he was being punished for his views, but his faculty colleagues said he was rejected based on traditional tenure criteria. A broad consensus exists among scientists that evolution, not intelligent design, explains the origins of the earth. And many scientists -- while having no problem with intelligent design as a focus in philosophy or religion classes -- object to science departments teaching it. Ball State is currently investigating a complaint that another faculty member in physics and astronomy was inserting religious, creationist views into a science course.
The University of Massachusetts System has adopted a new reporting mechanism on its progress in meeting state goals, and will replace a long report that few read with a simple brochure, The Boston Globe reported. The brochure will feature 21 broad goals, with a simple indication (not letter grades, but perhaps up and down arrows) of progress or lack thereof. Some campus officials opposed the new system, fearing it would oversimplify. But system officials said that this approach is important to promote transparency about how state funds are used.
Some alumni and others are questioning a plan by William Peace University to use two-thirds of its $33 million endowment to buy a retail center adjacent to campus, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. University officials said that the center would provide income now and could at some point in the future provide facilities for expanding the university. Others question devoting so much of the university's endowment to the project. Still others have raised questions about the university's refusal to release the names of the trustees who voted on the matter.