Higher Education Quick Takes
The Education Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Monday released their standardized "shopping sheet," a financial aid award letter they'd like all colleges to adopt. While standardizing award letters remains controversial with many colleges, 10 college presidents and state system heads have already agreed to use the department's model, which includes the cost of attendance (broken down into tuition and fees, housing and meals, books and supplies, transportation and other costs); state, federal and institutional grants and scholarships; the net price after scholarships; and loan options. It also includes the college's six-year graduation rate and default, and the average monthly payment for a typical student who takes out loans.
In a conference call with reporters Monday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he believes peer pressure -- and pressure from students and their parents -- will cause other institutions to follow suit. "There's tremendous interest in this," Duncan said. "We'll move this as far as we can on a voluntary basis, but we're not anticipating a huge amount of resistance."
The University of California at Berkeley is joining edX, which was recently formed by Harvard University at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to offer MOOCs, or massively open online courses. The Berkeley announcement comes a week after Coursera, another provider of MOOCs by elite universities, announced a major expansion. In the announcement from edX, the three members are now referred to as the "X Universities." In a statement explaining the choice of edX, Robert J. Birgeneau, the chancellor at Berkeley, specifically noted the nonprofit model at edX. "We are committed to excellence in online education with the dual goals of distributing higher education more broadly and enriching the quality of campus-based education. We share the vision of MIT and Harvard leadership and believe that collaborating with the not-for-profit model of edX is the best way to do this," he said.
The Memphis College of Art, a private, nonprofit institution, is experiencing severe financial problems, The Commercial Appeal reported. The college's board has declared financial exigency, laid off four faculty members and announced plans to sell much of its art collection. Officials believe that the cuts have turned things around, and say that the budget is now balanced. But the budget for 2012-13 is down 28 percent from the budget for 2011-12.
The Vatican has ordered the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru to stop using either "Pontifical" or "Catholic" in its name, saying that the institution has moved too far from Roman Catholic teachings, BBC reported. The university and the Vatican have argued for years about the degree to which the university must adhere to Vatican ideas about what a Catholic university must do. A recent dispute has involved the university's resistance to placing the archbishop of Lima on the university's board.
A new report put out by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Association of Schools of Public Health identifies three categories of competencies -- knowledge, skills and attitudes -- that graduates of medical schools and public health programs should have in order to appropriately provide health care, services and policies to an increasingly diverse population.
According to the report -- “Cultural Competence Education for Students in Medicine and Public Health” -- programs should tailor their curricula to specific competencies instead of adopting the entire list. The proposed competencies include:
- Identifying cultural factors that contribute to health and wellness.
- Identifying health disparities that exist at the local, state, regional, national, and global levels.
- Describing and implement the elements of effective communication with patients, families, communities, peers, and colleagues.
- Describing the role of community engagement in health care and wellness.
- Integrating cultural perspectives of patient, family and community in developing treatment/interventions.
- Demonstrating shared decision making.
As a "roadmap for the future," the report also recommends five methods to instill these cultural competencies as well as reduce health disparities and promote enhanced health and wellness:
- Promoting faculty skill in competency-based education.
- Integrating application of the competencies.
- Cultivating an agenda for research and scholarship.
- Employing case studies.
- Identifying strategies for translating curriculum to practice settings.
Brother James Liguori resigned Thursday as head of Fordham University's Westchester County campus after he was accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy in 1969, The Poughkeepsie Journal reported. A statement from the university said that "Brother Liguori passed a criminal background check in fall 2011, when he was hired by Fordham. University officials began investigating immediately [after reports surfaced of the accusation], and on Friday, July 20, Brother Liguori submitted his resignation, effective immediately." Brother Liguori was formerly president of Iona College. Brother Liguori could not be reached for comment.
The universities attended by James Holmes, who faces charges in the killings in Aurora, Colo., offered some information about Holmes on Friday, but little that would explain what happened.
- Timothy P. White, chancellor of the University of California at Riverside, held a news conference Friday in which he said that Holmes enrolled as an undergraduate in 2006 and graduated in 2010 as an honors student in neuroscience, earning merit scholarships along the way. White said that there was no evidence of any contact between Holmes and law enforcement while he was enrolled at Riverside.
- The University of Colorado at Denver issued a brief statement that Holmes was in the process of withdrawing from a graduate program in neurosciences.
- On Sunday, the University of Colorado said it was investigating whether Holmes used his graduate student position to have materials shipped to the university for his use setting up booby traps in his apartment, the Associated Press reported.
In April, Andrew Leuchter, the chair of the Academic Senate at the University of California at Los Angeles, found that David Shorter, associate professor in the department of World Arts and Culture/Dance, had inappropriately linked from the website for his course, "Tribal Worldviews," to a website promoting a boycott of Israel. Now, the committee of the Academic Senate that deals with academic freedom issues has found that Shorter did nothing wrong, The Los Angeles Times reported. A letter from the committee said that he was within his rights to have the link. Further, the committee questioned why Leuchter looked into the matter at the request of a pro-Israel group unaffiliated with the university. "We think that faculty members should be free of such scrutiny and should not have to answer to interest groups outside the university,” the committee said in a letter to Shorter.