Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 7, 2013

A study published Wednesday in PLOS ONE found evidence of brain injuries that could lead to cognitive issues in college football player -- even in cases where the football players did not suffer concussions. The study was based on analysis of players on three college football teams. The injuries -- which did not involve concussions -- were identified with blood tests to show the potential for blood-brain barrier disruption. The danger took place in cases of "repeated sub-concussive events."

 

March 7, 2013

An article in New York Magazine explores business relationships between Rob Wile, chief of staff to Rev. Donald Harrington, president of St. John's University (New York), Father Harrington, and the former chair of the university's board. Wile received a loan from the former board chair for a real estate venture he was pursuing with Father Harrington. The magazine said that the loan was not reported to the board, even as the board was approving a bonus recommended by Father Harrington for Wile. A university spokesman told the magazine that the real estate venture "has nothing to do with St. John’s." The article quoted Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a dean at the Yale University School of Management, as calling the loan arrangement "unprecedented" and "unethical."

March 7, 2013

Several leading corporate scholarship providers are complaining about the rules used by some wealthy colleges for calculating students' expected contributions to their college expenses, Bloomberg reported. Some colleges rescind some or all of their aid offers, and impose minimum student contribution requirements, on those who receive large grants from independent scholarship providers. The colleges' rules, some complain, effectively punish students for winning scholarships. College officials, on the other hand, maintain that the rules treat all students equally and maximize the availability of aid funds.

March 7, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, David Schuff of Temple University explains how your posts to various social media platforms are making traditional political polls obsolete. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
 

March 7, 2013

The number of athletics directors at major-college sports programs who make more than $1 million has risen to nine from six since 2011, and the number earning over $800,000 has climbed to 15 from 9, a USA Today analysis finds. Among the highlights of the report, which includes a database of all those institutions that agreed to share data with the newspaper (many private universities did not):

  • The average director earned $515,000 in 2013, up 14 percent from 2011.
  • The University of Texas's athletics director, DeLoss Dodds, gets a $62,500 annual bonus if his department is financially solvent -- not a hard hurdle to clear given its nearly $160 million in annual revenue.
March 6, 2013

One of the country's top digital humanists has been tapped to lead one of an ambitious effort to create a national home for the country's digital riches. The Digital Public Library of America, an effort to "make the cultural and scientific record available to all," announced the hiring Tuesday of Dan Cohen, director of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media and an associate professor in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University, as its founding director. The digital public library, which in its nascent form has been housed in Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, will formally launch as a freestanding nonprofit entity on April 18.

 

March 6, 2013

WASHINGTON — Carmel Martin, the assistant secretary for planning, evaluation and policy development at the Education Department for the past four years, is leaving that post for the Center for American Progress, the center announced Tuesday. Martin will become executive vice president for policy at the liberal think tank, overseeing its policy development.

Martin, whose departure was bemoaned by former department higher education staff on Tuesday, had been considered likely to play a larger role in shaping the department's higher education policy in Obama's second term. She focused heavily on K-12 education in the first term but had played key roles in efforts to bolster state data systems, among other things. And she had reportedly been a more visible presence in postsecondary-related meetings in recent months.

Instead, she joins what has become something of a departmental exodus in recent months. Since before the election, observers have warned that departures of key political appointees and career staff members have left a policy making void on higher education. David Bergeron, the acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education, said in February that he would leave his job at the department. 

March 6, 2013

A donor to the law school at Georgetown University is suing to get millions in gifts refunded, The Dallas Morning News reported. According to the suit, on which Georgetown is not commenting, the gifts were supposed to result in a fitness center named for the donor, Scott K. Ginsburg. After a jury found him guilty of insider trading, the suit says, the university suggested that it would be best not to name a facility for him. But he says he never agreed to a change in the gift terms, so now he's suing.

 

March 6, 2013

Authorities are unsure of whether someone dressed in Ku Klux Klan garb was walking near the Afrikan Heritage House at Oberlin College, The New York Times reported. The report that someone in a Klan-style robe was walking on campus, following various other incidents of hate speech on the campus, led Oberlin to call off classes for a day. But police officers said that they have not been able to confirm the Klan report. At the same time, they have received a report of someone walking, wrapped in a blanket, raising the possibility that the latter report was the accurate one.

 

March 6, 2013

The large college enrollment growth seen in the post-recession period leveled off between 2011 and 2012, but continued state budget cuts meant that public colleges and universities saw a 9 percent decline in per-student state appropriations between 2011 and 2012, according to a report released today by the State Higher Education Executive Officers. The report, a followup to one released in January, finds that while spending increased in three of every five states, those increases were small, and when coupled with large decreases in states like California, amounted to an overall decline.

Public colleges and universities have tried to make up the difference through tuition increases. Net tuition revenue as a share of general operating revenues (excluding grants for research and auxiliary functions) grew from 31.6 percent in 2008 to 42.5 percent in 2012. Since 2002, enrollment at public universities has increased 28 percent, according to the report.

“One year does not make a trend, but SHEEO’s annual studies document a long-term trend toward shifting more of the burden of financing higher education onto tuition and fees," said SHEEO President Paul Lingenfelter in a press release. "In light of these trends, policymakers should give more attention to the size and effectiveness of state and institutional student assistance programs in providing access and adequate support for full-time enrollment in postsecondary education.

As with similar studies, the overall trend masks deep differences between states. While some states, such as Iowa, have seen significant declines in per-student appropriations that tuition hikes have not been able to compensate for, other states, particularly North Dakota, have seen robust growth in enrollments, per-student spending and tuition prices that leave them in much better positions than in 2000.

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