Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, July 16, 2012 - 3:00am

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled 4-to-3 Friday that the University of Iowa does not have to release files related to a 2007 investigation of sexual assault charges against former football players, The Des Moines Register reported. The university has to date released only some of the files, and those have been redacted. The university maintains that the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, known as FERPA, bars release of more of the files. While critics question the university's interpretation of FERPA, the Iowa Supreme Court ruling was ultimately about a state law, not FERPA. Iowa's Supreme Court cited a provision in Iowa's open records law that exempts documents whose release could "cause the denial of federal funds to a state agency." Since some interpretations of FERPA are consistent with the university's that a more complete release would violate FERPA, the Iowa court ruled that the university has no obligation to release the materials.

 

Monday, July 16, 2012 - 3:00am

The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools last week gave Ashford University one month to prepare a report demonstrating the for-profit university's compliance with the commission's criteria for accreditation, according to a corporate filing by the university's parent company, Bridgepoint Education. Ashford last week had its bid rejected for accreditation with another regional accreditor, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), which found the university lacking in several areas, including low numbers of full-time faculty, high student dropout rates and questions about academic rigor.

Ashford had sought to change its accreditation status in part because the Higher Learning Commission has required that the university demonstrate a "substantial presence" in the region. Now Ashford must respond to a range of questions from the commission that stem from the critical finding from WASC. After submitting the report, the commission will conduct a site visit sometime before a mid-October.

Monday, July 16, 2012 - 3:00am

Trustees of Pennsylvania State University have reportedly decided to keep the campus statue of Joe Paterno, at least for now and potentially for good, ESPN reported. Last week's independent report that listed the late football coach as among those senior leaders at Penn State who collectively opted not to report Jerry Sandusky to authorities has tarnished the reputation of the coach who was beloved by generations of Penn State fans. ESPN reported that trustees do not want to offend fans who remain loyal to Paterno, and also do not want to be rushed into a decision.

"You can't let people stampede you into making a rash decision," a trustee said. "The statue represents the good that Joe did. It doesn't represent the bad that he did."

Meanwhile, the artist who painted a mural in State College, Pa. that includes Paterno has removed a halo that he added after the coach died, The Centre Daily Times reported.

 

Monday, July 16, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Susan Levine of the University of Chicago reveals the long-term advantages of playing with puzzles at an early age. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, July 16, 2012 - 3:00am

Faculty members at Lebanese University are questioning the creation of new departments to study Persian and Turkish languages, The Daily Star reported. The administration created the programs, citing the values of language study. But faculty members say that the administration ignored the faculty role in creating new academic programs. Further, some professors are concerned about the political implications. Some faculty members say that they were alarmed to see the new Persian language program included in an education agreement between Iran and Lebanon. And some faculty members question the teaching of Turkish, which is not widely taught in Lebanon, in part because of lingering anger over Ottoman rule in the region.

Friday, July 13, 2012 - 4:29am

The University of Hawaii has put its athletics director, Jim Donovan, on leave amid concerns about a fund-raising event. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that $200,000 in athletics department funds were used to plan a concert with Stevie Wonder. One big problem, however, is that Wonder never agreed to appear, raising lots of questions about why and how the funds were used. Department officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Friday, July 13, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Amélie Quesnel-Vallée of McGill University reveals the multigenerational advantages of a college degree. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, July 13, 2012 - 4:31am

An architectural contract for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is on hold amid questions about conflict of interest, The Chicago Tribune reported. The $4.6 million contract was awarded to a firm owned in part by the husband of the university official who oversees the planning of construction projects. The State of Illinois has a system for review of contracts with potential conflicts, but the university awarded the funds -- since placed on hold -- without going through that system's reviews.

Friday, July 13, 2012 - 4:32am

Presidents of Council of Independent Colleges institutions (small and medium-sized private colleges) are satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs, the organization announced Thursday. The CIC used data collected from a survey of presidents by the American Council on Education, and found that CIC presidents were more satisfied than are the presidents of public institutions. The CIC presidents are also younger than presidents in other sectors.

 

Friday, July 13, 2012 - 3:00am

The Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics released preliminary data Thursday about types of degrees offered and conferred, tuition and fees rates, and enrollment head counts. Provisional data will be released in about three months, and final data will be available in 2012-13.

Some findings from the report -- “Postsecondary Institutions and Price of Attendance in 2011-12, Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2010-11, and 12-Month Enrollment: 2010-11” -- are:

  • Between 2009-10 and 2011-12, the average tuition and fees at four-year public colleges, after adjusting for inflation, increased more for in-state students -- 9 percent, to about $7,200 -- than for out-of-state students -- 5.6 percent, to about $16,500. Nonprofit institutions reported a 4.3 percent increase in tuition and fees, to about $23,300, and for-profit institutions reported no increase from the 2009-10 inflation-adjusted figure of about $15,200.
  • Of the 7,398 Title IV institutions in the United States in 2011-12, 41.3 percent, or 3,053, were classified as four-year institutions. About 31.5 percent, or 2,332, were two-year institutions, and 27.2 percent, or 2,013 were less-than-two-year institutions. About 27.6 percent, or 2,039, of all the institutions were public. About 25.5 percent, or 1,890, were nonprofit, and the largest proportion -- 46.9 percent, or 3,469 -- were for-profit institutions.
  • For 2010-11, institutions reported an unduplicated headcount enrollment of about 29.5 million students, comprising about 25.6 million undergraduates and about 3.9 million graduate students. About 12.6 million students were male, and 16.9 million were female.
  • For the same year, institutions reported conferring about 3.6 million degrees. Four-year institutions handed out about 2.9 million of them and two-year institutions awarded about 650,000. Of these, 942,336 were associate degrees. The most popular type of degree was a bachelor’s degree -- 1,715,913. A total of 730,635 master’s degrees were awarded, and 163,765 of all types of doctoral degrees were handed out.

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