Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 7, 2013

The California Federation of Teachers and other employee unions have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education over the actions of a regional accreditor, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. The unions had previously lodged their concerns directly with the commission, which accredits California's two-year colleges and is an arm of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. They alleged that the accreditor had acted improperly in slapping a severe sanction on City College of San Francisco -- which faces possible closure -- as well as in its oversight of other community colleges. The commission last week rejected those claims, saying it has followed procedures. So the unions this week asked the Education Department to force the commission to respond more fully to the complaint.

June 7, 2013

Leslie Berlowitz will remove herself from day-to-day activities at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which she leads, during investigations into how grant applications falsely described her as having a doctorate, The Boston Globe reported. The National Endowment for the Humanities is examining three grant applications that listed Berlowitz as having a doctorate. Now the Massachusetts attorney general is also investigating a range of issues, including Berlowitz's compensation package of $598,000.

June 7, 2013

WASHINGTON -- The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, a federal panel that meets twice a year to evaluate accreditors and recommend them for Education Department recognition, asked the American Bar Association on Thursday if it was doing more to ensure that law schools were providing good data on whether their graduates have found jobs. Those job-placement rates have been contentious in the past few years in a difficult job market for new lawyers; some graduates have sued their law schools for not providing good data. Representatives of the bar association said they were meeting with firms soon to consider an independent audit of job placement data, beginning with the class of 2014. About 15 institutions are currently not complying with the job placement disclosure requirements of the association's accrediting arm.

The panel voted to recommend that the Education Department renew its recognition of the A.B.A. for three years.

June 6, 2013

After three separate criminal incidents involving students from Saudi Arabia, Missouri State University is considering adding a police presentation to its international student orientation, The Springfield News-Leader reported. Two Saudi students at Missouri State are charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman this weekend and are being held on $1 million bond. In March, another Saudi student at the university was charged with domestic assault; in January, one was sentenced to 120 days in jail and four years' probation after hitting a pedestrian with his car.

“We are looking at whether there is something we can be doing to help prevent these instances,” Stephen Robinette, Missouri State’s associate vice president for international programs, told the newspaper. Robinette described all three incidents as serious but random, noting, “It is not just associated with Saudi students.”

Missouri State has experienced a rapid growth in its numbers of international students in recent years. According to the News-Leader, there were 1,426 international students enrolled in the fall. More than half these students (805) were Chinese; 244 students from Saudi Arabia made up the second-largest group. 

June 6, 2013

Inside Higher Ed's Cartoon Caption Contest sprouts a new cartoon, new finalists and a new winner in June.

To submit your captions for June's cartoon, please click here. The three entries deemed most clever and creative by our experts' panel will be put to a vote by our readers, and the winner will receive a $75 Amazon gift certificate and a copy of the cartoon signed by Matthew Henry Hall, the artist.

Click here to vote on the three captions nominated as finalists for our May cartoon.

And congratulations to the winner of the Cartoon Caption Contest for April, Therese Kattner. Find out more about her and her submission here.

 

June 6, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Sara Konrath of the University of Michigan explores the relationship between age and the ability to feel empathy for others. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

June 6, 2013

Instructure, the maker of the Canvas learning management system, raised $30 million in venture capital to help fuel its competition against Blackboard, Desire2Learn and other more established players, the company said this week. Bessemer Venture Partners put up $26 million and existing investors put in another $4 million.

“We plan to use it for growth. We still think there is a great opportunity in this market to take market share,” said Brian Whitmer, an Instructure co-founder. Right now, he said the five-year-old company has about 5 percent of the LMS market.

Whitmer said the company would hire sales, development and support staff. It may also buy other startups. “We may use some of it for acquisitions," he said.

Another goal, of course, is to eventually take the company public. Bessemer's Silicon Valley partner Byron Deeter will join the Instructure board.

June 6, 2013

Rutgers University officials knew its new athletic director Julie Hermann was involved in two lawsuits that -- coupled with recently unearthed verbal abuse allegations by Hermann’s former athletes – called the university’s vetting process into question. In 1997, a jury awarded damages to a former University of Tennessee assistant coach who claimed in a lawsuit against the university that Herman fired her because she was pregnant, and in 2008, a University of Louisville assistant coach targeted Hermann in a sexual discrimination lawsuit. Search committee co-chair Richard Edwards said in an email to the group’s 27 other members that Rutgers officials knew about the lawsuits, and also clarified other details to search committee members who said they were left in the dark during the process. Once Hermann reached the finalist stage for the Rutgers position, the search firm conducted a background check, which failed to discover the 16-year-old allegations by athletes who played volleyball for Hermann at Tennessee.

Also on Wednesday, Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi – who has also been criticized over the hire and its preceding abuse scandal, which led to the previous athletic director's ouster – reiterated his support for Hermann. “I am confident that Julie and her team will set the stage for a great transition,” Barchi said.
 

June 6, 2013

The UNCF, known since its days as the United Negro College Fund, is adding on to its famous slogan that "a mind is a terrible thing to waste." The New York Times reported that the UNCF wants more of an emphasis on the positive impact of supporting the education of students at historically black colleges. So the longstanding tag line (in use since 1972) has been altered to "a mind is a terrible thing to waste but a wonderful thing to invest in."

 

June 6, 2013

A former associate professor of law at the National University of Singapore was sentenced to five months of prison for having sex with a student and accepting gifts from her, Bloomberg reported. The judge imposed a longer jail sentence than that which was sought by prosecutors, stating that “corruption must be stamped out effectively and swiftly.” The professor, Tey Tsun Hang, is accused of seeking expensive gifts and abusing his position of authority over the student. Tey maintains that the relationship was consensual. His lawyer has indicated plans to appeal.

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