Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 3, 2014

About 20 percent of medical students report being mistreated during the clinical portions of their education, according to a new study by Michigan State University researchers. Public humiliation was the most common form of mistreatment, followed by sexist remarks and requests by supervisors to do personal favors.



Public humiliation or belittlement topped the list, with sexist remarks and requests to do personal favors coming in second and third, - See more at: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2014/humiliation-tops-list-of-mistreatment-... humiliation or belittlement topped the list, with sexist remarks and requests to do personal favors coming in second and third, - See more at: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2014/humiliation-tops-list-of-mistreatment-...
September 3, 2014

The U.S. Department of Education will gather a panel of higher education stakeholders early next year to write the regulations needed to carry out President Obama’s orders to expand his federal income-based repayment program for student loans. The department will announce in Wednesday’s Federal Register that it plans to hold two public hearings on the plan this fall -- one in Washington and one in Anaheim, Calif. -- before it kicks off negotiated rule making sessions next February.

Officials also said they would accept comments, written and in person, about “additional issues that should be considered for action by the negotiating committee.”

Congressional Republicans have criticized the expansion of the program as a political stunt and its potential cost to taxpayers, which the Obama administration has not publicly identified. Critics also questioned the administration’s legal authority to make the changes on its own without Congressional approval.

President Obama has asked Congress to expand his income-based repayment program, known as Pay As You Earn, in his past two budget requests. But lawmakers haven’t acted on it. Consumer and student advocates have praised the plan, which will allow an additional 5 million existing student loan borrowers to cap their monthly loan payments at 10 percent of their discretionary income and to have any remaining loan debt forgiven after 20 years.

September 3, 2014

Already flanked by numerous lawsuits brought by former college athletes, the National Collegiate Athletic Association may soon face yet another antitrust class action.

Last week, Durrell Chamorro, a former football player at Colorado State University, filed a class action seeking damages for football players who were affected by the NCAA's longstanding rule banning multiyear scholarships. Since 1973, athletic scholarships were only allowed to be offered on a year-to-year basis. Chamorro's lawyer hopes to consolidate the class action with another lawsuit already filed before the rules were finally changed in 2012. That lawsuit was filed by John Rock, a former quarterback at Gardner-Webb University.

The timing of Chamorro's lawsuit to the recent ruling in an antitrust class action led by Ed O'Bannon is no coincidence. The lawsuit cites the ruling seven times, CBS Sports reports. In that case, a federal judge ruled that the NCAA violated antitrust laws when it prohibited sharing revenue with football and basketball players for the use of their names and likenesses.

September 3, 2014

Two higher ed headhunters are joining forces. Academic Search, which helps place higher ed leaders in permanent jobs, and the Registry for College and University Presidents, which helps colleges fill interim spots, are now working together. Institutions that use either service will receive "discounts and preferential treatment from the other firm," and company officials said the deal could help avoid conflicts of interest and avoid the "pitfalls of two sequential searches," according to a press release by the firms, which made the deal public Tuesday. 

September 3, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Edward LeBrun, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, examines the speed, ferocity, and resilience of tawny fire ants. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


September 2, 2014

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is willing to make a financial settlement with Steven Salaita, the controversial scholar whose hiring was blocked last month by Chancellor Phyllis Wise amid debate over Salaita's anti-Israel comments. To date, Illinois has suggested that because the hiring never received required board approval, there was no firing. But in an interview Saturday with The Chicago Tribune, the board chair, Christopher Kennedy, said that the university was open to a financial settlement, but had been delayed because Salaita -- who has not commented -- changed lawyers. "Our intention isn't to hurt him financially," Kennedy told the Tribune. "We don't like to see that. We are not trying to hurt the guy. We just don't want him at the university."

In other developments:

  • The American Association of University Professors sent a letter to Illinois strongly objecting to how Salaita has been treated, and saying that the way the administration blocked his hiring appeared to represent a serious violation of academic freedom.
  • While much of the campus (and national) reaction by academics has similarly criticized the university, a group of faculty members published a letter in The News-Gazette of Urbana-Champaign saying that there is not a "monolithic" view of the controversy. "In spite of the narrative that has thus far dominated the attention surrounding this case, the non-hiring of Steven Salaita is not about academic freedom. It is about an administrative decision to not pursue the hiring of someone who has used his constitutional right to free speech to express hatred, bigotry and aggression. The public narrative, thus far, has painted a picture of an administration inappropriately involving itself in faculty affairs and violating academic freedom. There are many of us, faculty and non-faculty, who do not believe that this narrative accurately reflects the situation," the letter said. "We, and others who share this perspective, believe that the administration precisely fulfilled its obligation in blocking this hire. They took seriously their job of overseeing the maintenance of an inclusive environment on this campus and they took steps to ensure its continuation."
September 2, 2014

Oklahoma State University students created a sign for their institution's football game against Florida State University (team name "Seminoles") that read in part "Send 'Em 'Home #Trail of Tears," The Tulsa World reported. The sign went viral online, infuriating many for apparently mocking the Trail of Tears, which refers to the expulsion of many Indian tribes from their lands in the Southeast. The Oklahoma State official account originally made a tweet with the sign a favorite, but later apologized and asked that the sign be taken down.

One of the students who was involved published an apology in which he said: "Though we did not set out to hurt or offend anyone when we made our banner, I see that it did just that. Referencing the Trail of Tears in such a flippant and disrespectful manner was insensitive and wrong, and I make no defense for our having had such a lapse in judgment. I apologize for our mistake. I am truly sorry."

September 2, 2014

Most colleges were initially cautious about adopting policies about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which started in countries that send relatively few students to the United States. But with the outbreak continuing, some colleges are announcing extra health screenings for students arriving from some countries in West Africa, the Associated Press reported. Among the institutions starting special screenings are Liberty and Mercer Universities, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and the Universities of Akron and Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the AP said. Carolina Live TV News reported that Coastal Carolina University has screened eight students and one faculty member who recently traveled in West Africa.

In developments outside the United States:

  • Senegal reported its first case of Ebola, found in a university student who had come from Guinea, The Guardian reported.
  • Dominica has announced that it will screen all students arriving from West Africa for Ebola, Caribbean 360 reported.
September 2, 2014

Dozens of higher education interest groups submitted comments last week on Senator Tom Harkin’s draft proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

The American Council on Education submitted a consensus letter, signed by 20 other higher education groups, that laid out provisions that garnered widespread support as well as concern. The group’s letter praises efforts to expand and ease access to federal student aid. But it says that colleges and universities are opposed to proposals that would increase federal regulation and reporting requirements. They also oppose a provision that would hold colleges accountable for how well their graduates are able to repay their loans.  

The council said that different sectors of higher education are split over making accreditation documents public, creating a student unit records system, and state-federal college affordability partnerships.

Following are some of the letters submitted separately to Harkin’s office by other higher education associations: 

September 2, 2014

Southern Utah University has removed the name of a prominent alumnus -- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid -- from the building housing the Outdoor Engagement Center of the campus, The Spectrum reported. Local civic leaders objected to having the prominent Democrat's name on a building and offered to raise money to give to the university in return for the removal of Reid's name. University officials said that offer did not motivate them, and that they hoped to have a new building (for which no money has yet been raised) named for Reid.



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