Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 3:00am

Executives of Spencerian College, a for-profit institution among several being investigated by Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat, have not only been donating money to his Republican opponent, but have been urging employees to back the Republican, Todd P'Pool, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. One former admissions officer described a session in which employees were asked to raise their hands to indicate that they would donate to P'Pool. Under Kentucky law, it is a felony for an employer to "coerce or direct any employee to vote for any political party or candidate." Grover Potts Jr., a lawyer for the Sullivan University System, of which Spencerian is a part, said that officials may have recommended votes for P'Pool, but that nothing was coercive.

Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Swaziland is shut, lacking the funds to operate, BBC reported. The country faces extreme shortages of funds, and it is unclear when the institution might resume classes.

Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Vermont's former president permitted "inappropriate and imprudent" behavior by his wife in ways that undermined the university's "guidelines and values," but did not violate any laws or university policies, according to a report commissioned and released Wednesday by the institution's Board of Trustees. The report explores allegations that arose from a controversy surrounding the actions of Rachel Kahn-Fogel, whose pursuit of a relationship with a senior administrator at Vermont and subsequent admission of a longstanding battle with mental illness led to the resignation last month of her husband, Daniel Fogel, as the university's president.

The board-mandated review rejected a charge that the doctorate given to Michael Schultz, the development official who was the subject of Kahn-Fogel's attention, had been awarded inappropriately. The inquiry also found no evidence to support an allegation that Fogel, Kahn-Fogel and other officials had inappropriately spent university funds on non-university travel or expenses, although it did reveal that the officials had overspent their meal thresholds by a total of $151.

On the third issue explored during the investigation, potentially inappropriate personnel actions by the president and his wife (who had an official volunteer role as a fund-raiser), the board's report found no "violations of the law or university policy." But it concluded that the "lack of clarity" surrounding Kahn-Fogel's role at the university caused confusion and poor morale and that "presidential staffing and personnel decisions were at times based on personal preferences rather than objective performance assessment."

"All of this ran counter to the university's stated guidelines and values," the board chairman, Robert F. Cioffi, said in a prepared statement, and "to be effective and meaningful, these guidelines and values must be followed and exemplified across the university, especially by the institution's leadership. And we fell short of that goal."

Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 3:00am

The Christian Legal Society has settled a lawsuit against the University of Montana's law school over the latter's refusal to recognize the former as an official student organization. Under the settlement, the law school agreed not to consider factors such as the relative popularity of student organizations in deciding whether they can be recognized. The society had argued that this practice would amount to illegal viewpoint discrimination. But the society agreed not to sue the university should it be denied recognition over law school rules requiring student organizations to be open to all students. The Christian group maintains that it meets this requirement because its activities are open, but the law school in the past has disagreed because the society requires members and leaders to share its beliefs.

Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 3:00am

Ohio higher education officials on Wednesday released details of a plan to turn public universities into "charter universities," in which they could give up some state funds in return for more freedom from regulations, The Dayton Daily News reported. The first part of the plan would let all 14 state universities meet internal auditors in private. Further, Bowling Green State, Kent State, Miami, Ohio and Ohio State Universities would be freed of enrollment caps. Universities could then trade more freedom for less money. So some institutions could opt to get less money and be allowed to self-insure for workers' compensation coverage, and to set tuition by academic program. Faculty groups in Ohio have been viewing with skepticism the push away from a traditional state higher education system.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - 3:00am

The Library of Congress is expected today to name Philip Levine as the next U.S. poet laureate, The New York Times reported. Information about the poet laureate's position may be found here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - 3:00am

University and high school students in Chile are on strike, staging major protests in Santiago and elsewhere, BBC reported. Government officials have pledged to increase funding for education, but students say that the promises have been insufficient. One key student demand is that private universities be required to invest their income in educational improvements.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - 3:00am

At a retreat Tuesday of about 50 Division I college presidents, called to develop "creative solutions to the significant issues facing intercollegiate athletics," National Collegiate Athletic Association President Mark A. Emmert said that while he wants to increase financial support for athletes, "there is absolute consensus we will never move to pay for play."

The two-day meeting in Indianapolis is closed to the public and the press, but Emmert made a few brief statements in the evening regarding the day's topics: the division's fiscal sustainability, and the steadily widening financial gap between the biggest-time programs and the rest. He also stressed the importance of acting "rapidly," saying that whatever ideas come out of these discussions should be proposed to the NCAA Board of Directors at its October or January meeting. Kansas State University President Kirk H. Schulz also said on Twitter that presidents expressed much concern "about rapidly escalating coaches' salaries." At tomorrow's sessions and subsequent briefing, Emmert will discuss athletes' academic performance and "fortifying the integrity of intercollegiate athletics."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - 3:00am

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled that the University of Ottawa was within its rights to exclude twin 10-year-old boys from classes there, Maclean's reported. The tribunal ruled that age-discrimination laws do not apply to those younger than 18, and that the university's requirement that students finish high school is a reasonable one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Professional science master's programs received nearly 4,400 applications for fall 2010 admission, and 48 percent of applicants were accepted, according to data released Tuesday by the Council of Graduate Schools. Programs in biology/biotechnology received more applications than those in other fields of study, constituting 34 percent of all applications received.

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