Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 22, 2014

The student newspaper at the University of Mary Washington is changing its name from The Bullet to The Blue and Gray Press. Fredericksburg.com reported that a statement from the newspaper said: "The editorial board felt that the paper’s name, which alludes to ammunition for an artillery weapon, propagated violence and did not honor our school’s history in a sensitive manner."


August 22, 2014

Northern Illinois University is defending a new network security policy that warns students when they attempt to access certain websites. Although the policy is meant to protect students from malicious attacks or block obscene content, some students reported social media and Wikipedia also got caught in the filter. Speaking to the The Huffington Post, a university spokesman said the policy is a "work in progress."

August 22, 2014

Creighton University's baseball team is pretty good -- a 32-17 record last year -- but it is unlikely to be confused with a major league team. That isn't stopping the Toronto Blue Jays from challenging the university's attempt to trademark its year-old sports logo, The Star of Toronto reported. The major league team has disputed Creighton's application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its new logo (left), which the Toronto franchise believes is too close to its own.


August 22, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Justin Hollander, an associate professor of urban and environmental policy and planning at Tufts University, discusses the intersection between cognitive science and the design of cities. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


August 21, 2014

A group that represents consumer banks is pushing back against warnings by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that undisclosed arrangements between banks and colleges to market financial products may pose a risk to consumers.

The CFPB has, in recent months, warned financial institutions as well as colleges that their failure to disclose such agreements “may pose potential consumer protection risks.”

The amount of consumer risk is one factor that can trigger more scrutiny of an institution by the bureau. While colleges and universities aren’t subject to the bureau’s oversight, many financial institutions are.

The Consumer Bankers Association said Wednesday in a letter to CFPB Director Richard Cordray that it took exception to the bureau’s “vague allegations” and the “implicit threat of supervisory action” against its members that do not voluntarily disclose the agreements.

“It is unclear how posting proprietary contracts online would benefit consumers,” wrote Richard Hunt, the group’s president and CEO. “We agree students need clear information to make intelligent choices that will benefit their college experience, but if the CFPB has any evidence the failure to post agreements harms consumers, it has not revealed it.”

Congress in 2009 required credit card providers that have affiliations with colleges and universities to disclose the terms of those arrangements. But no such requirement exists for other financial products, such as university-branded debit cards, that are marketed on campuses.

Consumer advocates, the Government Accountability Office, and some Democratic lawmakers, have all called for the public disclosure of such agreements. The U.S. Department of Education is currently weighing new regulations that may mandate disclosure.

The National Association of College and University Business Officers has also recommended that colleges publicly disclose the terms of agreements they have with debit card providers.

“Companies that treat their customers fairly should have nothing to fear from public scrutiny,” CFPB spokeswoman Moira Vahey said Wednesday in response to the bank group’s letter. “Students and families should be able to easily review these agreements so they can understand the products before they sign up.”

August 21, 2014

College presidents -- some joined by others on campus -- are taking the "ice bucket challenge," in which people dump a bucket of ice on themselves and challenge others to either do the same or donate to the ALS Association within 24 hours. The effort has raised more than $41 million for the association and brought new attention to ALS -- although it also has been criticized by some as too much hype. At least one Inside Higher Ed reporter had to be recused from a discussion on coverage of this trend, having already participated.

Among those academic leaders (some with colleagues) taking to social media to note their participation (see videos below) are Hal Higdon, chancellor of the Ozarks Technical Community College System; Sister Jane Gerety, president of Salve Regina University; Michael Benson, president of Eastern Kentucky University; Tracy Fitzsimmons, president of Shenandoah University; and Susan Herbst, president of the University of Connecticut. Herbst had the UConn Husky do the honors with the ice bucket. Some presidents are challenging other presidents, as well. Herbst challenged her brother, Jeffrey Herbst, president of Colgate University. A spokesman for Colgate said Jeffrey Herbst was out of the country but that the university was "aware of the challenge." We're not sure that being out of the country gets someone an extension, so he may need to donate to the ALS Association and to UConn.








August 21, 2014

A group of five higher education associations and other organizations are collaborating on a study of the retention and graduation rates of five million students who are not first-time college students. The American Council on Education, InsideTrack, NASPA -- Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, the University Professional and Continuing Education Association, and the National Student Clearinghouse last month announced the research project, which is slated to be wrapped up this fall.

The research is intended to give a broader, more accurate view of student completion trends than federal graduation rates, which track only first-time, full-time students. This approach fails to capture the large number of adult students who enroll in college multiple times. The Clearinghouse database, however, can provide information on almost all students. The new study will look at aggregate enrollment patterns, breaking out data by institution type, age of students, gender, geographic location, enrollment intensity and the type of degree pursued. 

August 21, 2014

The University of Houston has killed a plan to require freshmen who live more than 20 miles away to live on campus for one year, The Houston Chronicle reported. The university pointed to evidence of higher retention rates for those who live on campus, but a state senator argued that it was less expensive for students to live elsewhere.


August 21, 2014

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on Wednesday announced funding for 12 State University of New York campuses to receive supplies of naloxone, an antidote to heroin. In May, a SUNY Oswego student died on campus from a heroin overdose. In April, an Oswego student died in his home off campus from a heroin overdose. And last year, a graduate student died from a heroin overdose at SUNY Binghamton. While heroin use on campuses nationwide does not come close to the use of other drugs and alcohol, a growing number of overdoses of students has alarmed campus health officials.


August 21, 2014

The recent restructuring of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's governance and the ruling against the NCAA in an antitrust class action will lead to new expenses for college sports and disproportionately affect the competitiveness of less wealthy programs, Moody's Investors Service predicted in a new report.

Earlier this month, the NCAA granted a greater level of autonomy to the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific 12, and Southeastern Conferences. The five richest conferences can now more easily adopt changes like allowing cost-of-attendance stipends, moving to four-year scholarships, and improving medical coverage. Colleges outside of the five conferences will not have to adopt those same rules, but they will be allowed to if they choose. In addition, the judge's recent ruling in Ed O'Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA means colleges will be able to pay athletes for using their name and likeness. 

Moody's estimated that the changes would create an additional $3.5 million in expenses per school.

"The power five conference members may be well equipped to absorb incremental costs, but other universities with less profitable programs will become less competitive," the report stated. "The cost-of-attendance stipend, for example, will give the powerful conference members an additional recruiting tool that others will lack. Other expense pressures relating to amateurism, such as those rising from litigation, could impact lower resourced athletic departments as well."


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