Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016 - 4:02am

Two students at Keystone College, in Pennsylvania, were killed Monday in a car crash that also injured four students, The Times-Tribune reported. A car with five students headed to a convenience store hit another car, also driven by a Keystone student. Two of those injured are in critical condition.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Florin Dolcos, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, delves into a discovery that may trigger a new treatment for the millions of American suffering from this affliction. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - 3:00am

Florida State University has settled with the former student who said she was raped by the university's star quarterback in 2012. The university on Monday announced that it agreed to pay the student, Erica Kinsman, and her lawyers $950,000, as well as to commit to a five-year plan for sexual assault awareness, prevention and training programs.

“I will always be disappointed that I had to leave the school I dreamed of attending since I was little,” Kinsman said in a statement. “I am happy that FSU has committed to continue making changes in order to ensure a safer environment for all students.”

Kinsman accused the former FSU football player, Jameis Winston, of raping her in December 2012, but the university did not begin a disciplinary process for Winston until nearly two years after the alleged assault. Articles by The New York Times and Fox Sports, citing documents obtained under open-records requests, accused Florida State and local law enforcement of taking steps to “hide, and then hinder” the criminal investigation into the allegations against Winston. (Kinsman made her identity as Winston's accuser public in the 2015 documentary The Hunting Ground.)

The university remains under investigation by the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights for possibly violating Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by mishandling Kinsman's case. FSU did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement, and John Thrasher, the university's president, said the “overriding reason” for entering into the agreement was to avoid costly litigation expenses.

“We have an obligation to our students, their parents and Florida taxpayers to deal with this case, as we do all litigation, in a financially responsible manner,” Thrasher said in a statement. “With all the economic demands we face, at some point it doesn’t make sense to continue even though we are convinced we would have prevailed.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - 3:00am

Paul Ferguson resigned Monday as president of Ball State University, without an explanation and after less than two years in office. The Star Press reported that faculty leaders and others were surprised by the sudden exit and didn't know why he was leaving. While not saying that there was a connection to Ferguson's departure, the newspaper noted that the Indiana secretary of state's office is investigating -- including a criminal probe -- the university's loss of $13.1 million in investments to fraud.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - 3:00am

A federal judge on Monday issued an injunction to ban Iowa State University from barring student groups from producing T-shirts that include both university symbols or names and also pot plants, The Des Moines Register reported. The ruling came in a suit charging that the university was selectively enforcing trademark rights in a way to discriminate against a student group promoting the legalization of marijuana. The ruling found that the university acted -- contrary to constitutional principles -- based on “the messages … expressed” in an effort to “maintain favor with Iowa political figures.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - 3:00am

Inside Higher Ed is pleased to release today “The Rise of Competency-Based Education,” our latest print-on-demand compilation of articles. This compilation is free and you may download a copy here. And you may sign up here for a free webinar on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m. Eastern about the themes of the booklet.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - 4:18am

Harvard University, which has lagged other colleges in selling naming rights for academic colleges, has done so twice in recent years, in return for large gifts. That has prompted debate at its medical school over whether an extremely large gift (not yet on the table, but people are talking about a $1 billion gift) would justify renaming the medical school, STAT reported. Proponents say a gift of that size could bring the already prestigious institution to a new level.

But some faculty members worry about the implications. “If the school sells naming rights, it makes the school feel like it’s a football stadium,” David Jones, a professor, said. When faculty members publish articles with the new name of their medical school, “everyone on the faculty, and all of the students, become an advertisement for whoever bought the naming rights.” He added that professors also fear that they may not like the record of the donor, given that there are relatively few people with the ability to donate a gift of the size Harvard would want. “If they named it the Trump School of Medicine, half of the faculty would resign,” Jones said.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - 3:00am

A popular lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley has filed a wrongful termination complaint against the university's board after openly criticizing his department's policies.

In the complaint, a self-identified mathematics lecturer accuses Berkeley of opting, improperly, not to renew his appointment after, among other things, he wrote an open letter critical of the math department. “I believe my employer discriminated and retaliated against me on the basis of my disability, medical leave and engagement in protected activities,” the complaint reads in part.

Though the lecturer’s name was redacted from a copy of the complaint provided to Inside Higher Ed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Alexander Coward wrote such a letter, in which he also revealed he had been hospitalized for depression, and then expanded on it in an October blog post. In the post, Coward, who is widely loved by students,we know this how? is this something we should attribute/try to quantify? dl asserts that he wasn’t reappointed because the department was uncomfortable with his teaching style and suppressed evidence of its success.

Both Coward and the university, whose officials said they had not yet seen the complaint, declined to comment. California's fair employment department accepted the complaint and officially granted a right to sue notice.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - 3:00am

The GED Testing Service today announced that it will lower the passing score for the GED, a test that serves as the equivalent of a high-school degree. At the same time the service, which Pearson and the American Council on Education own jointly, said it was adding two new, optional levels above the passing score (and the previous passing level) that will allow students to signify college readiness or to earn ACE recommendations for college credits.

The testing service said it decided to "recalibrate" the GED's scoring after comparing the educational success of GED program graduates and high school graduates. The GED two years ago unveiled a new computer-based test. It also has faced new competition.

“The scoring enhancements are based on an extensive analysis of test takers’ performance data from the past 18 months, conversations with state policy makers and elected officials, and external validation with experts,” said GED Testing Service President Randy Trask in a written statement. “This is part of our ongoing commitment to make data-based decisions and continually improve the efficacy of the GED program.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - 3:00am

Melissa A. Click, who was roundly criticized after she blocked a student journalist and called for "muscle" to block others at a protest at the University of Missouri at Columbia, has been charged with misdemeanor assault, The New York Times reported. Click teaches communications at the university. She did not respond to a request for comment. She has previously apologized for her actions but said they were motivated by a desire to help the minority students who were protesting.


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