Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, October 21, 2011 - 3:00am

Officials of the Peralta Community College District have promised to promote transparency, but they redacted large portions of thousands of pages of trustee e-mails that had been requested by journalists, The Contra Costa Times reported. California law generally requires the release of such e-mails, and experts questioned the legality of the district's redactions, the newspaper reported. District officials are now promising to review their policies on such information requests.

 

Friday, October 21, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Association of University Professors, which thought it was on the verge of lifting the censure of the Savannah College of Art and Design, now seems likely to keep the institution on its censure list. A report released by the AAUP Thursday details a tentative agreement by SCAD to change its policies and to make cash payments to faculty members who the AAUP found were dismissed unfairly in the 1990s. But the report notes that a final step in the removal process -- a campus visit -- led discussions with SCAD to fall apart. The college wanted assurances of the lifting of censure, and control over the visit, the AAUP says. And these actions demonstrate serious academic freedom problems, the AAUP found. The college told the AAUP that "fundamental issues" separate SCAD and the AAUP. Further, SCAD asserted that these disagreements "have nothing to do with the high quality education that our faculty provides or with student achievement."

Friday, October 21, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Kentucky's Board of Trustees took a major step Thursday toward taking control of the university's high-profile sports program, which now is formally overseen by the separately incorporated University of Kentucky Athletic Association, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. A special committee of the university's board approved a recommendation that the board of the athletic association -- which approves the sports department's budget -- be dissolved, so that the athletics program would ultimately report to the trustees. Kentucky is one of a relatively small number of big-time sports programs (mainly in the South) that are overseen by freestanding entities designed to ensure that no state money flows to athletics.

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 3:00am

About 20 percent of full-time community college students fail to continue beyond their first year, after federal, state and local governments have already spent $1 billion on their higher education, according to a new study by Mark Schneider, vice president at the American Institutes of Research and a former commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. The study looked at first-time, full-time community college students who were seeking credentials. Government spending on those students who did not return for a second year has increased, hitting $1 billion in 2008-9, an increase of 35 percent over five years. The $4 billion spent during that period included $3 billion in education-related state and local appropriations, $240 million in state grants and $660 million in federal grants.

"Simply saying that the nation needs more community college graduates and continuing to pump more money and more students into the existing system is not the answer," concluded Schneider, who recently wrote a critical study on the costs and benefits of a bachelor's degree. The report suggested several possible solutions for retaining community college students, including prior-learning assessment, "hybrid" learning platforms, better approaches to remedial education, and performance-based funding.

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 3:00am

The board of Central Arizona College, following complaints from employees and others, has announced that it backs President Dennis Jenkins, and will start an investigation of his conduct, The Arizona Republic reported. Employees have accused Jenkins of intimidating them, and of endangering the college's accreditation. Faculty and employee groups have voted no confidence in Jenkins, who has said that he is working on accreditation issues, but who has not commented on other criticisms.

 

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 3:00am

Four students at Florida State University and one teaching assistant in English were arrested in a sting operation in which they went to a location where they thought they were going to meet a 14-year-old, but instead were met by police officers, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. A Florida A&M University student was also arrested.

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 4:41am

Alabama now has a second community college president facing questions over his doctorate. Gary Branch, the president at Faulkner State Community College, has only an honorary doctorate, but is regularly called "Dr. Gary Branch," The Press-Register reported. Branch said that he has never hid the honorary nature of his doctorate. He said that he doesn't call himself "Dr.," although many other people do. But the Press-Register noted that Alabama's community colleges have a policy under which all references to any honorary doctorate must make clear that the degree was not earned. The newspaper noted that the state directory of community colleges is among the documents that identify the president of the college as "Dr." News about Branch comes in the wake of the discovery that the president and dean of Bishop State Community College have doctorates from unaccredited institutions.

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, the University at Albany's Michael Bloom discusses how environmental toxins are contributing to increasing rates of infertility. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

 
Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 4:55am

The University of South Florida Polytechnic says that the hiring of two sons of Marshall Goldman, the chancellor, did not violate anti-nepotism rules, The St. Petersburg Times reported. Goldman was not available for comment. One son was hired as a consultant without his knowledge, officials said, and Goldman reimbursed the university for what he was paid. As for the other son, the university said that he does not report to his father in a job that involves coordinating internships and special events at four business incubators.  A spokeswoman for the university said: "USF Polytechnic recognizes the concerns of nepotism and has made additional efforts to ensure we follow proper procedures."

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 4:43am

Insead, a leading French university, has introduced a series of programs that officials credit with increasing the percentage of students who are female to 33 percent, up from 17 in 2005, The New York Times reported.

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