Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 3:00am

A majority of college and university officials responding to a National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators survey said their campuses would be "moderately" or "greatly" affected if administrative cost allowances for federal financial aid were eliminated. The allowances, $5 per student receiving Pell Grants, are used to offset the expenses of administering campus-based financial aid programs, and are used primarily for salaries, office supplies, and training and travel.

The money is considered a possible target for deficit reduction, NASFAA wrote in a summary of the survey's findings. More than 500 institutions responded to the survey, and 31 percent said they would be "greatly affected" if the allowances were eliminated, including more than half of all responding public four-year universities. More than half of the public four-year universities said their financial aid office heavily depends on the funds. "Elimination of the ACA would have a detrimental impact on the financial aid offices that serve our nation’s postsecondary students," the group wrote. "We urge lawmakers to consider its importance and necessity as they make difficult budgetary choices."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 3:00am

The number of Latinos earning college degrees in California has risen sharply in recent years, but they still lag behind white students in graduation rates, according to a report from the advocacy group Excelencia in Education. Between 2005 and 2008, the number of Latinos with undergraduate degrees rose by 13 percent, compared to 8 percent for all other ethnic groups, according to the report. But a closer look at the numbers shows that Latinos still trail white students in graduation rates, completion rates per 100 full-time-equivalent students, and the number of degrees awarded per 1,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 44. The report highlights two programs -- the University of California's Puente Project and Evergreen Valley College's Enlace Program -- as effective in helping increase the number of enrolled and graduating Latino students.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 3:00am

Widener University has suspended a law professor, Larry Connell, even though he was cleared of charges of racial and sexual harassment, the Associated Press reported. The latest suspension -- which follows numerous battles between Connell and his dean -- is for his telling students about an earlier punishment he received. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which backs Connell, issued a statement with links to many of the documents and blog posts related to the dispute.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 3:00am

A package bomb on Monday injured two professors at a campus of the Monterrey Technological Institute, the Associated Press reported. The professors are in the hospital, listed in stable condition. Authorities, who are investigating, have not identified a motive.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Justice Department and four states on Monday joined a whistle-blower lawsuit against Education Management Corp., a major player in for-profit higher education, charging that the company violated federal law by paying some admissions officers with incentives based on the number of students recruited. Congress barred such compensation out of the belief that it created incentives for recruiters to enroll students who might not benefit from programs, but who would use federal grants and loans. An EDMC statement to the Associated Press denied wrongdoing, saying that at the time of the alleged violations, federal regulations allowed some forms of incentive compensation, as long as other factors also went into the pay decision.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 3:00am

A federal grand jury is investigating scholarships awarded by a former legislator in Illinois, The Chicago Tribune reported. Under the legislative scholarship program, then-Representative Robert Molaro could award scholarships to anyone in his district. The inquiry relates to issues exposed by the Tribune a year ago, namely that family members of a supporter of Molaro received scholarships with questions about their residency. They signed documents indicating they lived in his district, but public records suggested otherwise.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 3:00am

The Michigan Employment Relations Commission ruled 3-0 on Monday that there was no reason to reverse a 1981 ruling that research assistants are not employees and are thus not entitled to unionize, The Detroit Free Press reported. The ruling was a setback to a drive to unionize those workers. The University of Michigan Board of Regents voted to permit collective bargaining, but groups skeptical of the union asked the commission to block the process. While critics of the union see the commission vote as a major victory, the union says it could still hold an election. The University of Michigan said that it was studying the decision.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Katharine Brooks of the University of Texas at Austin supplies an answer to "the question" faced by many college students. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, August 8, 2011 - 3:00am

A recent high school graduate in a college preparatory program at the University of Cincinnati died Saturday of cardiac arrest shortly after a police officer used a Taser on him, Cincinnati.com reported. The student had been planning to enroll at the University of the Cumberlands. Police officers reported that they were called to a dormitory at 3 a.m. about a reported assault, and then the student approached them more than once, appearing angry and with balled fists, ignoring requests that he stop doing so. He was then fired on with the Taser, and police examined him and found him breathing, but they were concerned for his health, and called paramedics. He subsequently died. The university is investigating the incident and has suspended the use of Tasers. Previous uses of Tasers on other campuses have set off controversies.

Monday, August 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Richard McCallum, president of Dickinson State University, is resisting requests from the North Dakota University System that he resign, The Dickinson Press reported. McCallum is under fire because of an investigation indicating that some of those listed as enrolled at the university are not actually students. In a statement issued Saturday, he said he would not resign and has retained a lawyer.

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