Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 19, 2013

Boston University trustees have given $560,000 to launch a scholarship fund in memory of Lu Lingzi, the graduate student who was one of three people killed in a terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon on Monday. Lu's family members, who are traveling to Boston from China, have endorsed the effort as an appropriate honor.

April 19, 2013

Students at the London School of Economics have criticized their institution for its decision to expose the fact that BBC journalists accompanied them on a trip to North Korea, Times Higher Education reported. The university has lambasted the British broadcaster for using a student organization’s trip as “cover” for the filming of a documentary, arguing that “the students were not given enough information to enable informed consent, yet were given enough to put them in serious danger if the subterfuge had been uncovered prior to their departure from North Korea.” However, six of the 10 students on the trip have now issued a statement arguing that the university has further endangered them by publicizing the situation.

 “We feel that we have now been put in more risk than was originally the case, as a result of the LSE’s decision to go public with their story,” the students said, adding that they had not all been consulted by LSE officials regarding their own accounts of the trip.

The students said they were informed in London that a journalist would be accompanying them and of the risk of deportation or detention if that were discovered. LSE stands by its assertion that the students were not fully informed of the risks.

April 19, 2013

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has rejected calls to fire the education and science minister, Dmitry Livanov, The Moscow Times reported. Livanov has attracted controversy for seeking to reduce the number of universities through mergers or closures and decrease the number of state-funded student placements.

"I believe that a minister whom everybody likes is a person who most likely doesn't cope very well with his duties," Medvedev reportedly said.

April 19, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Jay Huebner of the University of North Florida reveals the geographic evidence supporting reports of a historical meteorite impact. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

April 19, 2013

Mary Sue Coleman announced Thursday that she will be retiring as president of the University of Michigan in July 2014. Coleman started at Michigan in 2002. While there, she backed numerous major research projects and pushed hard to raise private funds to offset state support that was for many years in steep decline. She also promoted the hiring of more junior faculty members and the decision to be one of the founders of Coursera, a provider of massive open online courses.

Also on Thursday, Michigan announced its largest ever gift -- $110 million for graduate fellowships and to create a residential space where 600 graduate students will live in a space designed to encourage interaction across disciplines and research approaches. The residence will be named for its donor, Charles T. Munger, a close associate of Warren Buffett's.

April 18, 2013

A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that a lower court was too quick to reject a former student's request for dismissal of a suit against her by Trump University. The student sued Trump University after she took some of its courses and they failed to live up to her expectations and claims she said were made in advertising. Trump University (which has since been renamed to remove "university" from its name, but which is called its former name in the ruling) then sued the student for defamation, and she tried unsuccessfully to have the suit dismissed. The appeals court on Wednesday ruled that it would be difficult to win a case against the student for defamation because Trump University was a much discussed institution (in part because of the celebrity of its founder, Donald Trump) and that debate about its quality was very much in the public sphere.

"We have very little difficulty concluding that a public controversy existed over Trump University's educational and business practices," the decision says. "As Donald Trump himself admits on the Trump University website, Trump University provoked public attention nearly from the outset, much of it derisive.... [A]ny general interest in Trump University stemming from its celebrity founder soon ripened in an actual dispute over Trump University's business and educational practices."

A lawyer for Trump University said that it would appeal, the Associated Press reported.

 

April 18, 2013

Pima Community College has been placed on probation by its regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The college's accreditation woes emerged last month, after a commission site team said it had found a broad range of complex problems at Pima, including concerns about governance and changed admissions policies. The team recommended probation, which the commission approved, notifying the college in a letter earlier this week.

April 18, 2013

Facebook continues to be the most popular social media platform used by colleges to maintain relations with current and potential donors, according to a new survey by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Also highly popular are Twitter and LinkedIn. But the survey found that some forms of social media -- such as blogs and Flickr -- are seeing decreased use by colleges. A report on the survey suggests that colleges are trying to become more strategic about how they use social media, and may be more hesitant to be trying everything at the same time.

 

April 18, 2013

A bill is dead to create a fourth college system in California to award credit and degrees to students but offer no courses, according to the head of the state Assembly's higher education committee.

The bill would have created the "New University of California," which would have issued credit and degrees to anyone capable of passing certain exams. The bill received criticism and news media attention even though it had an uphill battle to become law: its sponsor is Assemblyman Scott Wilk, a rookie Republican lawmaker in a Democratic-majority legislature.

“Of course we need to look at creating different paths for students to achieve college completion,” Das Williams, the Democratic chairman of the Assembly's higher education committee, said in a statement. “At the present time the author of the AB 1306 has decided to pull the bill. This bill, and others like it, must be closely reviewed and solution-oriented to ensure that they meet our state’s higher education goals and prepare our students for a robust career in the workforce.” A spokesman for Wilk did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the bill's fate.

The bill is just one of several across the country this year to suggest new models for graduating students. Another, which is sponsored by the leader of the California Senate, is still believed to be very much alive. It would require California's 145 public colleges and universities to grant credit for certain low-cost online courses offered by outside groups, including classes offered by for-profit companies. 

In Florida, a measure is advancing that would allow Florida officials to accredit individual courses on their own -- including classes offered by unaccredited for-profit providers. 

April 18, 2013

Stan Chesley, who was recently disbarred in Kentucky, resigned from the University of Cincinnati board on Wednesday, shortly after university faculty members asked him to do so, WCPO Digital reported. University officials were quick to praise his service to the university. While Chelsey has denied wrongdoing, the Kentucky Supreme Court found that he overcharged clients in some high profile class actions.

 

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