Higher Education Quick Takes
Dozens of prominent law professors and deans have urged an American Bar Association panel studying the state of legal education to consider drastic changes to "alter the economics" of law schools, because "legal education cannot continue on the current trajectory." In a letter drafted by a group called "Coalition of Concerned Colleagues," the 67 professors and deans describe the litany of problems facing law schools and their graduates -- rising student debt, a dearth of jobs, and increasing socioeconomic and racial stratification within law schools -- and calls on legal educators to "grapple with these issues before our institutions are reshaped in ways beyond our control."
Among the possible solutions they cite: admitting students to law schools after three undergraduate years, awarding law degrees after two years of law school (and committing the third for electives or internships), diminishing the role of rankings, and expanding Internet-based legal education.
After growing opposition from coaches and athletics directors to measures adopted in January by the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Board of Directors, the NCAA has suspended two of the proposals and will reconsider modified versions before the board's next meeting in May.
The rules, part of NCAA President Mark Emmert’s broad reform effort, deregulated recruiting through two dozen proposals. The two that have been put on hold are Prop. No. RWG-11-2, which vastly expanded the number and type of athletic staff who could recruit, and Prop. No. RWG-13-5-A, which allowed for unlimited printed recruiting materials to be sent to prospects. Colleges are concerned that the new rules will accelerate the athletics arms race, even though the idea behind the deregulation was to recognize that some programs have more resources available to them and the NCAA should not attempt to ensure that no one program has an advantage over another.
Rollins College has decided to strip the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of official recognition as a student group because it requires leaders to be Christian and support certain views, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Representatives of the fellowship, which has faced similar policies at other colleges, complained that the Florida independent college is intolerant of students with evangelical and other strong religious views. But the Rollins Board of Trustees rejected the group's request for an exemption from the college's anti-discrimination policy, which bars student groups from discriminating based on factors such as religion, race and sexual orientation.
A transgender student at Emerson College, first turned down by his student health insurance for the breast removal survey he sought, will be covered by the college's insurer after all, The Boston Globe reported. Donnie Collins's story went viral after his fraternity raised nearly $20,000 to pay for his surgery after he found out it would not be covered by insurance. But Emerson officials confirmed with its insurer, Aetna, that its policy did cover such an operation.
The U.S. Department of State is investigating claims of exploitative living and working conditions faced by guest student workers at three McDonald’s franchises in central Pennsylvania, The Patriot-News reported. The students, who came to the U.S. on J-1 visas, staged a protest on Wednesday, and have petitioned McDonald’s for restitution and improved conditions for guest workers. McDonald’s said it is investigating the situation.
An article in New York Magazine explores business relationships between Rob Wile, chief of staff to Rev. Donald Harrington, president of St. John's University (New York), Father Harrington, and the former chair of the university's board. Wile received a loan from the former board chair for a real estate venture he was pursuing with Father Harrington. The magazine said that the loan was not reported to the board, even as the board was approving a bonus recommended by Father Harrington for Wile. A university spokesman told the magazine that the real estate venture "has nothing to do with St. John’s." The article quoted Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a dean at the Yale University School of Management, as calling the loan arrangement "unprecedented" and "unethical."
Several leading corporate scholarship providers are complaining about the rules used by some wealthy colleges for calculating students' expected contributions to their college expenses, Bloomberg reported. Some colleges rescind some or all of their aid offers, and impose minimum student contribution requirements, on those who receive large grants from independent scholarship providers. The colleges' rules, some complain, effectively punish students for winning scholarships. College officials, on the other hand, maintain that the rules treat all students equally and maximize the availability of aid funds.
The number of athletics directors at major-college sports programs who make more than $1 million has risen to nine from six since 2011, and the number earning over $800,000 has climbed to 15 from 9, a USA Today analysis finds. Among the highlights of the report, which includes a database of all those institutions that agreed to share data with the newspaper (many private universities did not):
- The average director earned $515,000 in 2013, up 14 percent from 2011.
- The University of Texas's athletics director, DeLoss Dodds, gets a $62,500 annual bonus if his department is financially solvent -- not a hard hurdle to clear given its nearly $160 million in annual revenue.