Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 14, 2013

Legislation that would limit the power of public university trustees -- inspired by perceived micromanaging by the University of Texas System board -- passed the Texas House of Representatives Monday, The Texas Tribune reported. Among other things, the bill would block regents of the state's public university systems from dismissing a campus president without a recommendation from the chancellor of that system, and require -- rather than recommend, as is now the case in state law -- that regents protect the independence of the universities they govern. The sponsors of the legislation, which requires another approval in the House before heading back to the state Senate, said they were motivated by recent steps by UT regents to undermine Bill Powers, president of the system's flagship campus in Austin.

 

May 14, 2013

A committee of a regional accreditor last week recommended that the University of Phoenix be placed "on notice," which is a lesser sanction than the probation a peer review team suggested earlier this year, the university said in a financial statement. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools is considering the university's 10-year bid for reaffirmation. The peer review team identified alleged governance problems at the university, including a lack of autonomy from its holding company, the Apollo Group. The university made subsequent changes in response to the report. The commission's Board of Trustees is scheduled to make the final ruling on the university's bid next month. The board gets the final call and is not required to take into account the report released last week by the commission's Institutional Actions Council First Committee.

May 14, 2013

Jackson Community College, one of a number of two-year institutions in Michigan that recently earned the right to offer four-year degrees, may soon follow in the footsteps of comparable institutions in Florida by dropping the word "Community" from its name, the Jackson Citizen Patriot reported. Michigan in January became one of several states to allow two-year colleges to offer bachelor's degrees, which Jackson board members cited as a key reason for agreeing to vote next month on a recommendation to drop "community" from the institution's name. Trustees also said the word was an impediment to attracting international students, who are perplexed by the term.

May 14, 2013

Makers of competing learning management systems are coming together to offer prizes to developers for applications that can work across their different products. It's an effort to grow a common "edtech ecosystem." The goal is to spare companies the effort of having to develop every single functionality for themselves. Instead, they can have certain applications that can work across their different products. “I felt for a long time like there aren’t enough integrations and there are too many that are vendor-specific," said Brian Whitmer, co-founder of Instructure, the maker of Canvas. "There’s a lot of lock-in going on.” 

Developers will be given $250 for a program that can run in a common language across Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, Desire2Learn, and other management systems. Judges will also award $1,000 to developers who come up with the best products.

May 14, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Aaron Sachs of Cornell University reveals how many of America’s iconic urban parks had first lives as cemeteries. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 14, 2013

Cengage Learning, one of the world's largest education companies, may file for bankruptcy, its CEO says. Bloomberg reports on continued restructuring talks at the company, which was sold several years ago to a private equity firm.

May 13, 2013

Gord Ferguson was dismissed last week as an instructor at the Alberta College of Art and Design, a month after a student killed a chicken in the college's cafeteria as part of a performance art project, The Calgary Herald reported. While the college is not commenting on why Ferguson was dismissed, he said it was "absolutely" related to the student's unorthodox use of a chicken in art. Miguel Michelena Suarez, the student, said he is upset that his instructor lost his job and is trying to organize letters of protest.

May 13, 2013

A growing number of wealthy Chinese families are trying a new strategy to earn admission for their children to elite American colleges: enrolling them first in private high schools in New York City. The New York Times reported that there were 638 Chinese students with visas at high schools in New York City in 2012, compared to 114 five years earlier.

May 13, 2013

Saint Augustine's College, in North Carolina,  announced Friday that its leaders do not believe that it should proceed with the idea of acquiring Saint Paul's College, in Virginia. Both are historically black colleges founded by the Episcopal Church and Saint Augustine's agreed to explore taking over Saint Paul's after the latter lost its accreditation, effectively endangering its survival. A statement issued Friday by Saint Augustine's said, "After careful due diligence and much deliberation, Saint Augustine’s University has decided that to pursue the acquisition is not a fiscally responsible option." The statement added, however: "At the request of Saint Paul’s College officials, the Saint Augustine’s University Board of Trustees will allow Saint Paul’s to present a plan to the Saint Augustine’s University Board by May 31, 2013 in hopes of reversing this decision."

May 13, 2013

Rutgers University admitted on Friday that its new men's basketball coach lacks the bachelor's degree from the institution that officials said he had earned. "While Rutgers was in error when it reported that Eddie Jordan had earned a degree from Rutgers University, neither Rutgers nor the NCAA requires a head coach to hold a baccalaureate degree," said the statement. "Eddie Jordan was a four-year letterman and was inducted into the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame in 1980. Rutgers sought Eddie for the head coach position as a target-of-opportunity hire based on his remarkable public career.... His athletic skills and leadership and his professional accomplishments have been a source of pride for Rutgers for more than three decades. We are excited to have him as our men’s basketball coach, and we look forward to many winning seasons."

Jordan was hired after the university fired its prior coach last month, following reports that he had been abusive to players -- and video surfaced of that coach, Mike Rice, kicking and grabbing athletes, hurling balls at their heads, and using multiple anti-gay slurs, of which "faggot" is but one.

The university acknowledged Jordan's lack of degree after Deadspin reported on the contradiction between his actual academic record at Rutgers (he enrolled, but never finished) and what Rutgers had said about him. The Deadspin article noted numerous instances in which Jordan has been described as a Rutgers graduate.

 

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