Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 22, 2014

Several firefighters were injured, two very seriously, when the fire truck bucket they were riding in got too close to a power line after they had doused the Campbellsville University marching band in ice water as part of a charity event, The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., reported. The local fire department unit was helping the university's band participate in the "ice bucket challenge" craze that has dominated social media in recent weeks, and two firefighters were shocked when the ladder carrying the bucket passed near a power line. One of the firefighters is in critical condition, and a vigil is to be held on the campus today.

August 22, 2014

RuffaloCody, which works with 1,000 colleges on their enrollment management and fund-raising strategies, announced Thursday that it is purchasing Noel-Levitz, which consults with colleges on admissions and marketing strategies. Terms of the deal were not released.

August 22, 2014

The new edition of "This Week," Inside Higher Ed's free weekly news podcast, is out this morning. Carol Schneider of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and Robert Townsend of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences discuss the academy's new analysis of the extent of course taking in the humanities and scientific fields. And the former Yale University President Benno Schmidt and Henry Reichman of the American Association of University Professors join Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik and the moderator Casey Green to debate a new report urging trustees to push a more aggressive reform agenda on campuses.

Stream or download the program here.

August 22, 2014

The student newspaper at the University of Mary Washington is changing its name from The Bullet to The Blue and Gray Press. Fredericksburg.com reported that a statement from the newspaper said: "The editorial board felt that the paper’s name, which alludes to ammunition for an artillery weapon, propagated violence and did not honor our school’s history in a sensitive manner."


August 22, 2014

Northern Illinois University is defending a new network security policy that warns students when they attempt to access certain websites. Although the policy is meant to protect students from malicious attacks or block obscene content, some students reported social media and Wikipedia also got caught in the filter. Speaking to the The Huffington Post, a university spokesman said the policy is a "work in progress."

August 22, 2014

Creighton University's baseball team is pretty good -- a 32-17 record last year -- but it is unlikely to be confused with a major league team. That isn't stopping the Toronto Blue Jays from challenging the university's attempt to trademark its year-old sports logo, The Star of Toronto reported. The major league team has disputed Creighton's application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its new logo (left), which the Toronto franchise believes is too close to its own.


August 22, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Justin Hollander, an associate professor of urban and environmental policy and planning at Tufts University, discusses the intersection between cognitive science and the design of cities. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


August 21, 2014

A group that represents consumer banks is pushing back against warnings by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that undisclosed arrangements between banks and colleges to market financial products may pose a risk to consumers.

The CFPB has, in recent months, warned financial institutions as well as colleges that their failure to disclose such agreements “may pose potential consumer protection risks.”

The amount of consumer risk is one factor that can trigger more scrutiny of an institution by the bureau. While colleges and universities aren’t subject to the bureau’s oversight, many financial institutions are.

The Consumer Bankers Association said Wednesday in a letter to CFPB Director Richard Cordray that it took exception to the bureau’s “vague allegations” and the “implicit threat of supervisory action” against its members that do not voluntarily disclose the agreements.

“It is unclear how posting proprietary contracts online would benefit consumers,” wrote Richard Hunt, the group’s president and CEO. “We agree students need clear information to make intelligent choices that will benefit their college experience, but if the CFPB has any evidence the failure to post agreements harms consumers, it has not revealed it.”

Congress in 2009 required credit card providers that have affiliations with colleges and universities to disclose the terms of those arrangements. But no such requirement exists for other financial products, such as university-branded debit cards, that are marketed on campuses.

Consumer advocates, the Government Accountability Office, and some Democratic lawmakers, have all called for the public disclosure of such agreements. The U.S. Department of Education is currently weighing new regulations that may mandate disclosure.

The National Association of College and University Business Officers has also recommended that colleges publicly disclose the terms of agreements they have with debit card providers.

“Companies that treat their customers fairly should have nothing to fear from public scrutiny,” CFPB spokeswoman Moira Vahey said Wednesday in response to the bank group’s letter. “Students and families should be able to easily review these agreements so they can understand the products before they sign up.”

August 21, 2014

College presidents -- some joined by others on campus -- are taking the "ice bucket challenge," in which people dump a bucket of ice on themselves and challenge others to either do the same or donate to the ALS Association within 24 hours. The effort has raised more than $41 million for the association and brought new attention to ALS -- although it also has been criticized by some as too much hype. At least one Inside Higher Ed reporter had to be recused from a discussion on coverage of this trend, having already participated.

Among those academic leaders (some with colleagues) taking to social media to note their participation (see videos below) are Hal Higdon, chancellor of the Ozarks Technical Community College System; Sister Jane Gerety, president of Salve Regina University; Michael Benson, president of Eastern Kentucky University; Tracy Fitzsimmons, president of Shenandoah University; and Susan Herbst, president of the University of Connecticut. Herbst had the UConn Husky do the honors with the ice bucket. Some presidents are challenging other presidents, as well. Herbst challenged her brother, Jeffrey Herbst, president of Colgate University. A spokesman for Colgate said Jeffrey Herbst was out of the country but that the university was "aware of the challenge." We're not sure that being out of the country gets someone an extension, so he may need to donate to the ALS Association and to UConn.








August 21, 2014

A group of five higher education associations and other organizations are collaborating on a study of the retention and graduation rates of five million students who are not first-time college students. The American Council on Education, InsideTrack, NASPA -- Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, the University Professional and Continuing Education Association, and the National Student Clearinghouse last month announced the research project, which is slated to be wrapped up this fall.

The research is intended to give a broader, more accurate view of student completion trends than federal graduation rates, which track only first-time, full-time students. This approach fails to capture the large number of adult students who enroll in college multiple times. The Clearinghouse database, however, can provide information on almost all students. The new study will look at aggregate enrollment patterns, breaking out data by institution type, age of students, gender, geographic location, enrollment intensity and the type of degree pursued. 


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