Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 3:00am

The vice chairman of the Board of Trustees at Florida's Edison State College resigned Wednesday as administrators and faculty members continued to be at odds over governance at the institution. David Klein, an ophthalmologist who was poised to become chairman of the board, had been the lone trustee to publicly question recent personnel decisions by President Kenneth P. Walker, going so far last week as to ask for a state investigation into how Edison State is being managed. Faculty leaders thought they had won concessions from Walker on Monday, when -- facing a no confidence vote -- the president said that a controversial senior administrator would resign or be reassigned. Faculty leaders called off their no confidence vote as a result, but some expressed skepticism that Walker would keep his promises.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Southern California may discipline the students involved in photographs -- which went viral Tuesday -- showing a couple having sex on the roof of a university building, the Los Angeles Times reported. University policy bars unauthorized access to the roofs of buildings. The photographs are available here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

Lynn Pasquerella, president of Mount Holyoke College, on Tuesday sent a letter to Governor Paul LePage of Maine to criticize his decision to remove a mural depicting Maine's labor history from the state Department of Labor building. Governor LePage said that the mural was too pro-labor. Pasquerella wrote that many Mount Holyoke alumnae were concerned about the situation because the mural includes Frances Perkins, an alumna who was a key figure in Maine and U.S. labor history. The governor also removed the Perkins name from a conference room in the labor building. "I was particularly surprised to read that you were influenced by an anonymous fax comparing the 11-panel mural to North Korean political propaganda, because the act of removing images commemorating Maine's history itself conjures thoughts of the rewriting of history prevalent in totalitarian regimes," wrote Pasquerella. "If the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. is housed in the Frances Perkins Building, why can't she be honored with a conference room in Augusta?"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

A think tank in Michigan has filed state open records requests seeking e-mail messages to and from labor studies scholars at three universities, related to the skirmishing over public employee unions in Wisconsin, according to the blog Talking Points Memo. In the wake of the controversial filing of a similar request for the e-mail records of a leading scholar at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the Mackinac Center For Public Policy submitted requests under the state Freedom of Information Act to policy centers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Wayne State University, and Michigan State University. The requests seek e-mails since early January that include the words "Scott Walker" (Wisconsin's governor), "Wisconsin," "Madison" and "Maddow" (for the MSNBC commentator Rachel).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Harvard University's Peter Godfrey-Smith examines the brain of the octopus -- with the eye of a philosopher. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Tuesday overturned a lower court's ruling that could have forced the University of Chicago to turn over invaluable Persian antiquities to a group of people suing Iran. Chicago has the antiquities on a long-term loan and has pledged to return them to Iran, but was temporarily blocked from doing so by a suit by American victims of a terrorist attack in Israel, who sued to recover Iranian assets in the United States after winning a finding that Iran was responsible for the attack. The appeals court ruled that the plaintiffs' approach (and the lower court's ruling) failed to recognize the protections the United States grants to the property of foreign countries. The University of Chicago and museum groups have worried that the lower court's ruling, if upheld, would discourage countries from allowing any objects of value to travel to the United States for any reason -- potentially limiting intellectually valuable scholarship or art exhibits.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

The Apollo Group on Tuesday announced a quarterly loss and enrollment declines at the University of Phoenix that were largely attributable to changes in the for-profit institution's policies aimed at ensuring that more of the students it enrolls can succeed academically. The company's announcement of its second quarter results drove down its stock price, Bloomberg reported. Apollo saw enrollment of new students in University of Phoenix degree programs fall by 45 percent from a year ago, and said its policy of requiring new students with few academic credits to enroll in a free orientation program to see if they are cut out for college-level work had suppressed enrollments in the short term but put it "on a path of more consistently delivering high quality growth" in the future. Phoenix, as the biggest and most visible player in the for-profit higher education sector, has been under intense scrutiny amid discussion of increased federal regulation, and it has put in place a series of changes (including changing how it compensates recruiters), its officials have said, to try to lead the industry in a new direction.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

EverFi Inc., a company that offers schools and colleges online programs on financial literacy, student loan management and other subjects, is today announcing that it has acquired Outside the Classroom, which operates AlcoholEdu, an online program for college students that has become a popular tool for colleges to use to discourage alcohol abuse. (EverFi's CEO, Tom Davidson, previously served on the board of Inside Higher Ed.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

An analysis in USA Today finds that the real value of an athletic scholarship for a single year is $120,000 for men's basketball -- more than four times the median value reported by colleges and universities at the top level of collegiate play. USA Today calculates that value as including such goods and services as coaching; academic counseling; strength and conditioning consulting; help in dealing with reporters, medical insurance and treatment; game tickets; and future earnings potential due to a college education. The article also quotes some experts questioning the newspaper's approach to the issue.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 3:00am

The Fiesta Bowl terminated its president with cause Tuesday, after an independent investigation revealed that officials from the marquee college football bowl game directed more than $46,000 in improper campaign contributions to local politicians and gave themselves and state officials supportive of the bowl “excessive compensation” and “inappropriate gifts.” The investigation also uncovered a “conspiracy to conceal” this behavior from the bowl’s board of directors and state officials. Duane Woods, chairman of the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors, responded in a statement: “The actions undertaken and orchestrated by John Junker [the bowl game's president and chief executive officer] and others are shocking and completely unacceptable. Their actions, unfortunately, have tainted the stellar reputation that the Fiesta Bowl has worked so hard to maintain for more than 40 years.”

The Independent Special Committee, which undertook the investigation, offered a series of recommendations to “address and prevent future improprieties,” which the bowl’s board recently approved. Woods added: “Clearly, the board placed too much trust in a single executive without proper oversight.… We also plan to share the lessons learned from this experience with other bowls around the country and the [Bowl Championship Series] and seek further input on our reforms.”

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