The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday killed a major contract that had been criticized as a conflict of interest, The Chicago Tribune reported. The contract was to an architectural firm partly owned by the husband of the administrator who oversees campus construction planning. Christopher Kennedy, chair of the Illinois board, said, "We don't want any more ethical issues associated with the university. We get public money and we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Nearly one quarter of first-year female college students try smoking tobacco with a hookah for the first time during their freshman year, according to new research in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. The researchers who did the study said that they worried that many of those attracted to the hookah (or water pipe) may be unaware that many of the dangers associated with cigarette smoking are also associated with smoking tobacco with a hookah.
Students from underserved populations can benefit from dual enrollment, in which high school students take college courses for credit, according to new research from the Community College Research Center. While early college programs are common among more privileged students, the study looked at its impact on student success and retention among lower-income students in California. Dual enrollment students were more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in four-year colleges and stay enrolled, the study found.
Faculty members and students this week held a protest at Coppin State University, objecting to what they say are 25 layoffs or non-renewals of staff members this year, The Baltimore Sun reported. Leaders of the protest said that they never were told why layoffs were needed, and are concerned about the elimination of positions at a time that President Reginald Avery has been adding slots to his cabinet. Avery and other university officials declined to comment on the protests.
Steve Garban, former chair of the Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees, has resigned from his trustee position, the Associated Press reported. Garban has been criticized for twice failing to share with the full board information about the investigations into Jerry Sandusky, and many have called for him to resign.
The University of Louisville law school planned to offer $550,000 in aid to the students enrolling in the fall, but ended up offering $1.3 million -- creating a $2.4 million deficit over the next three years since the aid packages were for a full law school education, The Courier-Journal reported. The university will fulfill the aid promises, and will cut aid next year if money cannot be raised for the pledges made to new students. The law school's admissions director resigned on Monday.
Wheaton College in Illinois has joined the Catholic University of America's lawsuit against the Obama administration over a mandate that would require health insurance plans for students and employees to cover contraception, including the morning-after pill. Several evangelical Christian and Catholic colleges have already sued over the mandate, which they say is an infringement upon their religious freedom. A federal judge in Nebraska rejected a similar suit from Catholic employers and seven states Wednesday.
Pennsylvania State University trustees who tried in 2004 to strengthen the board’s oversight of President Graham Spanier and Coach Joe Paterno said the board’s failure to vote on proposed reforms may have helped keep Jerry Sandusky’s crimes under wraps, ESPN reported Wednesday. After reviewing the proposals, Spanier and the then-board chair, Cynthia Baldwin, declined to put them to a full vote, according to ESPN.
An independent report commissioned by Penn State and released last week indicated that Spanier kept the board in the dark regarding claims about Sandusky, the former assistant football coach who raped boys in football locker rooms, and faulted the trustees for not ensuring consistent reporting from Spanier and Paterno, the former head football coach. That report, written by the former FBI Director Louis Freeh, made no mention of the “good-governance proposal,” even though Freeh’s team interviewed trustees about it.
Long-time Penn State trustee Joel Myers told ESPN that if the board had adopted the proposal, “This [crisis] could have been avoided.” An unnamed trustee said the revelation could increase the board’s liability in impending negligence lawsuits filed by victims against Penn State, “possibly by millions.” Another board member reported that Freeh said that e-mails obtained during his investigation showed Spanier and Baldwin, who is now Penn State's general counsel, “didn’t want the added scrutiny.” But Baldwin’s lawyer told ESPN that she “did not in any way interfere with the board’s consideration” of the proposal and “was instrumental in facilitating a full discussion of those issues.” Spanier declined to comment for the ESPN article.
The Aspen Institute today published a data set tracking the performance of 120 community colleges it picked as finalists for the 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The metrics are unique, according to the institute, and measure colleges on student retention, degrees awarded, graduation and transfer rates, and minority and low-income student success. The institute hopes the data can be used to better learn what works best in the sector.