Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 29, 2013

Most universities will face only minimal effects from the automatic budget cuts that went into effect at the beginning of the month, according to a report released Thursday by Moody's Investors Service. The report looked at the projected financial effect of the 5 percent cuts to domestic discretionary spending, known as sequestration, and found that only 1 percent of colleges and not-for-profits stood to lose more than 3 percent of their annual revenue as the result of the cuts.

Research universities were most likely to be hit hard by the cuts because federal funding for scientific research is one of the areas affected. While some financial aid programs -- particularly federal work-study and the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant -- will also be cut, the Pell Grant, bedrock of need-based financial aid programs, is safe for the 2013-14 academic year.

March 29, 2013

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday unveiled a new database on consumer complaints on various financial services and products, including student loans. “By sharing these complaints with the public, we are creating greater transparency in consumer financial products and services,” said a statement from Richard Cordray, director of the bureau. “The database is good for consumers and it is also good for honest businesses. We believe the marketplace of ideas can do great things with this data.”

March 29, 2013

Journal publishers and others are investigating Benjamin A. Neil, a professor in the accounting department, for what some are calling plagiarism, The Baltimore Sun reported. A librarian who is a plagiarism watchdog notified Towson officials and others of what he saw as plagiarism, and the Sun did its own review, which it said "shows passages with identical language and others with close similarities to scholarly journals, news publications, congressional testimony, blogs and websites. In many cases, there was no attribution." Neil denied wrongdoing, saying "I don't think I've done anything wrong. The issue seems to be that I didn't put things in quotes. But I've given attribution to people."

March 29, 2013

At least 12 students were killed by a mortar strike at Damascus University on Thursday, The New York Times reported. Government and rebel forces blamed one another for the attack, which took place at an outdoor café close to the civil engineering building. Students were reportedly taking an exam inside the building at the time of the strike.

Thursday’s was the second major attack on Syrian university students this year. In January, more than 80 people were killed by explosions at Aleppo University.

March 28, 2013

An independent report requested by the board of Roxbury Community College found that the Massachusetts institution had violated campus safety laws and may have lost track of significant sums of money, The Boston Globe reported. The investigation was requested after the departure of the last president and several board members, amid various allegations about the college. One finding was that the college had failed to investigate sexual assault complaints about two employees. New board members and administrators have said that they are already working on some of the issues identified in the report, and said that they would continue efforts to improve management of the college.

 

March 28, 2013

Boston College has told students to stop distributing condoms in dormitories, The Boston Globe reported. College officials said that condom distribution conflicts with the college's Roman Catholic values. Students say that they don't know why the college is cracking down now, given that the operation isn't new, and that the service is needed by many students.

March 28, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, David Burley of Simon Fraser University explains how radiometric dating techniques are improving our understanding of exactly when the settlement of Polynesia began. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


 

March 28, 2013

Central New Mexico Community College suspended its student newspaper this week after it published a sex issue, the Associated Press reported. The issue featured articles on such topics as sex toys and students' favorite sexual positions. While officials of the college said that the newspaper's content was offensive, the suspension was lifted amid widespread criticism from the student journalists and their supporters.

 

March 28, 2013

Towson University is disputing claims -- which have received considerable local media coverage -- by the White Student Union about plans for crime patrols on campus. The White Student Union is an unrecognized group, and the university is noting that one of its leaders who has been quoted isn't and never has been a Towson student. The group says that it is starting crime patrols on campus due to what it says is an increase in crime by black people against white people. The reports of the patrols have disturbed black leaders in the area.

On Wednesday, Towson released a statement from Deb Moriarty, vice president of student affairs, and Bernie Gerst, the chief of police, noting that crime rates are low on campus, and have been going down. Further, the statement said that statistics aren't tracked by race or gender but that there is "no evidence that people are victims of crime as a result of their race." As to the activities of the White Student Union, the statement said: "We will continue to work vigorously with students who feel threatened by the proposed activities of this group to ensure their safety and to help them find their voice to take back their power from those they feel are denigrating them. Immediate action will be taken in response to any reports of verified threats to the physical safety of individuals or groups within our community. In response to the establishment of the 'WSU crime patrols' at Towson University, we do not encourage the general public to take the law into their own hands, for both their personal safety and legal protection."

March 28, 2013

Chicago State University continues to face management and financial controversies. Many employees at the university have received no raises since 2010 and faculty members just received a raise of 2.25 percent. But President Wayne Watson -- whom some board members are trying to oust -- recently gave raises of 17.4 percent, 21.4 percent and 18.8 percent to three top administrators, The Chicago Tribune reported. He also gave promotions and 20 percent raises to two executive assistants in his office. One administrator who didn't get a raise was Glenn Meeks, vice president of administration and finance. Meeks was just fired -- and he says it was in retaliation for his raising questions about the raises. A university spokesman declined to comment on the dismissal of Meeks, and that the raises that were awarded were based on "merit and performance."

 

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