Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 4:26am

A Florida appeals court has upheld, 2-to-1, regulations imposed by the State Department of Education on faculty contracts at the state college system in Florida, CBS Miami reported. The rules have been opposed by faculty leaders in the state, who have argued that the board exceeded its authority in imposing them. Among the most controversial requirements are an extension from three to five years of the period of time before instructors are eligible for a continuing contract equivalent in some ways to tenure, and a requirement that contracts be awarded in part based on "student success." Faculty members say the latter provision will effectively punish those who teach at-risk students.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 3:00am

Of the 46,634 Wisconsin adults enrolled in private institutions (most of them for-profit) during 2012 and 2013, 36.5 percent dropped out within 2 years, according to a new report by the Wisconsin Educational Approval Board. The report says that the highest dropout rates were at online for-profit institutions. A press release accompanying the report noted the Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, has proposed eliminating the board, to “decrease the regulatory and fiscal burden on private, for-profit schools.” David C. Dies, director of the board, said in a statement that the new data show why it's important to have an oversight board for for-profit higher education. Governor Walker's proposal "eliminates the ability for anyone to collect and review student outcomes data from these institutions," Dies said.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 3:00am

Current and former students at South Carolina State University have filed a federal lawsuit against the state, accusing it of illegal discrimination against the institution and the black students it serves, The State reported. The lawsuit argues that the state of South Carolina caused enrollment declines by failing to provide enough money to the university, and by approving duplicative programs at other public colleges. Last week, a legislative committee in South Carolina approved a measure to shut the historically black university for two years, saying that its financial problems required a fresh start. Critics said that the plan would effectively kill the institution and that even floating it could scare away some prospective students.

More than 1,000 supporters of the university rallied Monday at the State House against the closure plan -- vowing that the university would not be closed.



Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 3:00am

In the wake of a report last week about presidential influence on admissions decisions at the University of Texas at Austin, the chancellor of the UT system on Monday announced the creation of a committee to review admissions practices and policies. Chancellor William H. McRaven said of the committee he created: “My goal is to ensure full and open transparency to the public with respect to how admissions decisions are made at UT-Austin. I realize that admissions practices are complicated and nuanced processes, but we must clearly define a policy that determines the degree of appropriate discretion at the institution level, while ensuring a fair and transparent process for applicants.”

The committee includes three former UT-Austin presidents (Larry Faulkner, Peter Flawn and William Cunningham) and three former UT System chancellors (Mark Yudof, Dan Burck and Cunningham, who served in that role as well).


Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 3:00am

Princeton University on Monday announced a bequest of 2,500 rare printed books and manuscripts. The value of the collection is nearly $300 million, making the bequest the largest gift in Princeton history. The books are from William H. Scheide (seen at right with some of his collection), a musician, musicologist, bibliophile and philanthropist who died last year.



Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 3:00am

An article in The Los Angeles Times profiles a legal battle between the University of California at Los Angeles and the heirs of donors who 50 years ago gave their home and its large Japanese garden to the university. The garden is considered one of the finest of its kind in the United States. UCLA, saying it can't afford to keep up the garden, wants to sell the garden, but the heirs say this would break a promise to maintain it in perpetuity.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 4:21am

Horry-Georgetown Technical College has issued an apology for the way a faculty member handed out M&Ms at an event for children, MyHorryNews.com reported. The M&Ms were in pill containers, and labeled "happy pills." Some parents complained that this gave children the wrong idea about the real pills normally found in pill containers. A statement from the college said: "While we know this professor meant the candy to serve as a treat, the method of distribution may have confused pre-school children whose parents have taught them not to take pills from pharmaceutical bottles. The college administration deeply apologizes for the distress and confusion this action may have caused and seeks your forgiveness for our thoughtlessness."

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Ian Hawes, a University of Canterbury lecturer, discusses his work using underwater drones to map ice algae in Antarctica. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Monday, February 16, 2015 - 3:00am

The California Student Aid Commission has suspended state student aid for those enrolled at the 10 California campuses of the for-profit Heald College chain, The Sacramento Bee reported. The commission said that Heald had failed to submit documents required to show that it is financially stable. The move by the commission halted about $1 million in payments to Heald, a figure that could reach $14 million by June. Heald officials criticized the move and said that they had hired a new accountant. Heald officials also said the move could endanger the sale of Heald, which is part of the Corinthian Colleges group, which has faced severe financial and regulatory difficulties and has been selling off some parts of its operations. Heald has been considered one of the more attractive assets that Corinthian might sell off.

Monday, February 16, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of Scranton's president has announced plans to end its health insurance coverage of abortion, which was covered only in cases of rape and incest and when the life of the mother was endangered by a pregnancy. A letter to the campus last week from the university's president, the Rev. Kevin P. Quinn, said that coverage of any abortion was inconsistent with the university's Roman Catholic faith. "[T]he moral teaching of the Church on abortion is unequivocal," wrote Father Quinn, citing Vatican documents on abortion. "Circumstances, 'however serious or tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being,' and '[n]o one more absolutely innocent could be imagined' than the unborn child."

His letter acknowledged the contract with the faculty union would need to be adjusted and said that he would personally meet with the union's negotiating team to discuss the issue. Michael Friedman, head of the faculty union, said that union leaders were talking to members and gathering opinions before taking a stand on the president's plans. He said he has received numerous calls and e-mail messages about the president's announcement.



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