Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 4, 2013

Curry College waited almost a week to tell the campus that a student had reported a "group rape" in a dormitory, The Boston Globe reported. The victim reported the attack on January 22, three men were arrested on January 25, and the college notified students and others on January 28. A college spokeswoman said that Curry's policy is to notify the campus if alleged assailants are unknown and that in this case they were known. (Two of them are former students.) Curry is now reviewing its policies. A summary of federal reporting requirements -- by the Clery Center for Security on Campus -- notes that colleges are required to report incidents based on whether a threat may be posed to students, and based on the seriousness of a crime.

February 1, 2013

Florida's Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the state Constitution gives legislators ultimate authority to set tuition, presumably ending a six-year legal fight over whether that authority lay instead with the state's higher education governing board.

The former U.S. Senator Bob Graham, along with other politicians and some university leaders in the state, had argued that a 2002 constitutional amendment creating a statewide Board of Governors transferred tuition-setting power to the new body. (They believed the state's major public universities were underpriced on national terms and viewed legislators as unwilling to raise tuition.) A judge embraced their legal arguments early in 2011, but a state appeals court overturned that ruling later that year.

In its decision Thursday, the state Supreme Court backed the appeals court's ruling. "Nothing within the language of [the Constitutional amendment] indicates an intent to transfer this quintessentially legislative power to the Board of Governors," the high court's ruling said. "Accordingly, we conclude that the challenged statutes by which the Legislature has exercised control over these funds are facially constitutional."

The legal battling may be over, but the fight over tuition-setting continues. Legislators have proposed (and continue to propose) bills that would allow the University of Florida and Florida State University to raise tuition significantly, while Governor Rick Scott has not only rebuffed those but argued for lowering tuition rates.

February 1, 2013

Most of the attention related to the controversial "state authorization" regulations that the U.S. Education Department sought to implement in 2010 revolved around their potential application to distance education programs -- which a federal court invalidated in July 2011, and the agency said a year later it would not enforce. But lest college leaders (or state officials) think they were off the hook for the rest of the new requirements related to seeking state approval, the Education Department sent a little reminder to the contrary last week.

In a "Dear Colleague" letter to state education officials, department administrators noted that the delays in enforcement (of up to two years) that individual colleges could seek if they had been unable to obtain authorization to maintain a physical presence in a given state would be exhausted by the end of June 2013. So any institution that has not been granted approval to operate a physical campus in a state under the terms of the 2011 rules by then will risk losing access to federal financial aid funds, the letter notes.

February 1, 2013

Danish government officials have pledged to make it easier for their universities to recruit foreign talent. But The Copenhagen Post reported that various regulations are actually making it more difficult for them to hire researchers from outside Denmark. Handling the rules and paperwork is so complex that the University of Copenhagen has created an office just to advise foreign scholars on the process.

 

February 1, 2013

Faculty members at the University of Miami's medical school are demanding the resignation of Pascal Goldschmidt, the dean, The Miami Herald reported. Faculty members question the way he has managed the finances of the school, and some say that critics of the dean are punished. After a stormy meeting this week, the dean is defending his overall leadership, but also said that there would be a "change in course" and that faculty members would receive raises.

 

February 1, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, David Green of Midwestern University explains what a recent find reveals about how Australopithecus lived. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

February 1, 2013

William L. Pollard, who has clashed repeatedly with faculty and student leaders, has resigned as president of Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, The New York Times reported. Faculty members at the college have twice voted no confidence in him, and students organized a class walkout last year to demand his departure. His critics say he shifted resources away from programs vital to education and the local community. Pollard's defenders have said that he was focused on good management for the institution.

 

February 1, 2013

A jury on Thursday awarded $849,000 to a former student who says she was kicked out of the social work program at Wayne State University because of her pregnancy, the Associated Press reported. The university said she was removed for legitimate reasons. But the jury accepted the student's view that the university's poor evaluation of her was due to reviews she received on an internship, where she said her supervisor was offended by her status as an unmarried pregnant woman.

 

January 31, 2013

The Anti-Defamation League says it is “troubled” by an upcoming event at Brooklyn College, co-sponsored by the college’s political science department, that the ADL says is "anti-Israel." The event, which the political science department is sponsoring along with the college’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, will feature two speakers who are part of the BDS – or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – movement, which encourages organizations to cut off all ties to Israel. Ron Meier, the ADL New York regional director, said in a press release that the political science department’s co-sponsorship of the event constitutes institutional endorsement of the sentiments of the BDS movement, and in a letter to Brooklyn College president Karen Gould, Meier urged Gould to tell the political science department to revoke its sponsorship.

But the college is backing the right of the political science department to sponsor any event it wants. In a letter to students, faculty, and staff, Gould wrote that principles of academic freedom grant students and faculty the right to “engage in dialogue and debate on topics they may choose, even those with which members of our campus and broader community may vehemently disagree.” Gould emphasized that while the college endorses free speech, it does not endorse the views of speakers it brings to campus.

A spokesman for the college also noted that another student group, the Israel Club, will host its own event in February.  

January 31, 2013

Federal financial aid programs should be quicker to punish colleges with high loan default rates and more vigilant in ensuring that all students are making satisfactory academic progress, a white paper released Wednesday by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities argued. The white paper, "Federal Student Aid: Access and Completion," is the latest in a series funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, called for using both loan default rates and repayment rates to judge colleges' eligibility to participate in financial aid programs. The association argued that standards should be tightened, saying colleges can game the current system by forcing students into forbearance and deferment.

The group also called for rewarding colleges with high completion rates for at-risk students with additional financial aid, cracking down on fraud and improving advising. The paper is somewhat an outlier among the Gates-funded efforts in proposing provisions that appear aimed at for-profit colleges, including the loan default provisions and a recommendation that the government count veteran's benefits as federal aid under the 90/10 rule, which governs how much of a college's revenue can come from the federal government.

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