Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Tuesday night's presidential debate started out with a question about higher education, as a college student asked President Obama and Mitt Romney about his employment prospects after graduation. Obama went over what his administration has done on higher education, including the changes to the federal student loan program that added new funding to Pell Grants.

Romney said he expected the Pell Grant program to continue growing if he were to become president, a reversal from previous statements, when he said he'd try to change eligibility rules to limit the program's growth. He also said that, in seeking to change the tax code, he might cap the amount of credits or deductions taxpayers could take rather than seeking to eliminate specific benefits, including tax benefits for college tuition.

Education advisers to both campaigns have held debates of their own in the past few days. At a debate at the American Enterprise Institute between Jon Schnur, executive chairman of America Achieves and an adviser to the Obama campaign, and Martin West, an assistant professor of education at Harvard and an adviser to the Romney campaign, West said the administration's regulations on for-profit colleges unfairly targeted the sector. In response to a question about affirmative action, Schnur said the president does not believe in quotas but does believe in diversity.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 4:18am

Nine current and former employees of Northern Illinois University have been charged with felony theft over accusations that they sold university scrap materials and deposited the funds in a private bank account, The Chicago Tribune reported. The employees allegedly referred to the bank account as the "coffee fund."


Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 3:00am

The Apollo Group on Tuesday announced that it was closing 90 of the University of Phoenix's satellite learning centers and 25 of its campuses, leaving 112 remaining locations. The closures are part of a "re-engineering initiative" that the company said will help the bottom line by 2014. About 13,000 students, or 4 percent of those pursuing degrees at Phoenix, will be affected by the shuttering of locations. But those students will continue to be served online and at alternative sites, according to the company.

The news accompanied the release of Apollo's disappointing fourth-quarter earnings, with a 10 percent decline in annual revenue and a 15 percent dip in enrollment at Phoenix. The company also announced the elimination of 800 jobs, but not faculty positions. Phoenix last week introduced a tuition freeze for current and incoming students.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Harry Ostrer of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University explains how genetic analysis is shedding light on the global history of entire peoples. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Dinesh D'Souza, president of the King's College, the evangelical Christian college in the Empire State Building, is under review by the college's board of trustees after a Christian magazine reported that he spent the night at a book signing event with a woman he referred to as his "fiancée" -- not his wife of 20 years. World magazine reported that D'Souza and the woman shared a hotel room; at the time, he hadn't yet filed for divorce from his wife. D'Souza later told the magazine, in a text message, that he'd broken off the engagement.

In a statement, the college's board of trustees said it had been aware of some of the trouble in D'Souza's marriage, but not of all of the details, and when the board learned of the magazine's report, members immediately met with D'Souza in a special session. The board is still investigating the situation and will have a statement soon, college spokesman Matthias Clock told Inside Higher Ed.

"We take seriously our charge to teach a compelling worldview rooted in the Bible and expect all of our leaders to model Christian character and integrity in their public and private lives," the board said in its statement.

D'Souza, the author of The Roots of Obama's Rage, which posits that the president is motivated by "anti-colonial ideology," is a prominent figure in campus conservative movements. As a student at Dartmouth College, he helped found the conservative Dartmouth Review and later wrote Illiberal Education, a critique of what he viewed as too much political correctness in higher education.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 3:00am

Hobsons on Tuesday announced its purchase of Beat the GMAT, a large social network of applicants to M.B.A. programs. Hobsons already owns College Confidential, a large social network for undergraduate applicants. But the company has been expanding its work in the professional admissions space through such measures as Tuesday's acquisition and last year's purchase of Intelliworks.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 3:00am

Mexican authorities on Monday raided three teachers colleges in the state of Michoacan, where students have been hijacking buses and trucks to protest changes in the curriculum, the Associated Press reported. In clashes Monday, 176 protesters -- who have been trying to take over the campuses -- were detained, and 10 police offers were injured.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 3:00am

This month the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges issued a report calling on trustees to meet their responsibilities for making sure athletics programs are run with integrity, consistent with the educational values of their institutions. It's not clear that all trustees have read the report about where they should focus their attention. The Tampa Bay Times used open-records requests to obtain the e-mail message John Ramil, the board chair of the University of South Florida, sent out after USF lost a football game to Temple University. "Disgusting and unacceptable. We have major problems with our football program," he wrote in an e-mail to the president's chief of staff. That e-mail in turn was forwarded to the athletics director, with a suggestion that he have a talk with the board chair. Asked about the e-mail, Ramil told the newspaper that "I was expressing the same feeling of frustration as all the USF fans are feeling.... I personally want what's best for all the USF programs, whether academic or sports. I also believe in candid feedback, and I think the president and the athletic director and the coaches need to have that kind of feeling of feedback from all the fans. I've given them feedback on good stuff, too."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 3:00am

The National Collegiate Athletic Association followed through last Monday on its vow to bar the staging of championship events in New Jersey, citing the state's passage in July of a law that permits sports gambling. NCAA policies prohibit the association from holding events in any state that allows betting on individual college games, and there were five regional and national championships planned for the state in this academic year. “Consistent with our policies and beliefs, the law in New Jersey requires that we no longer host championships in the state," said Mark Lewis, NCAA executive vice president of championships and alliances. "We will work hard in the days ahead to find new suitable host locations which will allow the student-athletes to have the best possible competitive experience.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 3:00am

Blackboard announced Monday that Michael Chasen will be stepping down as its CEO at the end of the year. He will be succeeded by Jay Bhatt, who is president and CEO of Progress Software. Chasen was the co-founder of Blackboard in 1997, and saw huge growth in the company's size and influence in higher education. The company dominates the learning management system market, and has also seen its share of controversies while gaining that position and acquiring many other companies in related fields. Chasen posted this open letter about the change.


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