Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 3:00am

Mountain State University, stripped of accreditation by its regional agency, has decided not to enroll any new students in the fall, institution officials said in a document explaining the situation to students. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools said this month that it would end the West Virginia private college's accreditation, citing serious financial and management troubles. Most colleges have great difficulty operating without accreditation, which opens the door to students' receiving federal financial aid, and Mountain State officials have until Monday to appeal, which they have said they would do.

University officials have been working with students to help them explore options should they choose to leave Mountain State. In addition to not enrolling any new students, the university said, "new students who have already signed up for classes in the fall will be dropped from their classes."

Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 3:00am

On many campuses, the administrator's career path might go from being a dean to becoming provost. Stanford University on Wednesday announced for the second time in two years that it was filling a dean's job with a provost. Last year, Stanford named Claude Steele (then provost at Columbia University) to become education dean. On Wednesday, Stanford named Lloyd B. Minor (provost at Johns Hopkins University) as its next medical school dean.

Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 3:00am

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.

Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 3:00am

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.

Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 3:00am

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.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 3:00am

The U.S. agency charged with overseeing the student visa system has inadequate processes in place to investigate, identify and combat fraud, the Government Accountability Office said in a report to Congress Tuesday. GAO said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which manages the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, has not done enough to ensure that 10,000 schools and colleges that enrolled a total of 850,000 foreign students as of January have done so legitimately.

"SEVP does not have processes to (1) evaluate prior and suspected cases of school noncompliance and fraud and (2) obtain and assess information from ... field offices on school investigations and outreach events," the GAO report said. "Without a process to analyze risks, it will be difficult for ICE to provide reasonable assurance that it is addressing high-risk vulnerabilities and minimizing noncompliance." The report notes that the Department of Homeland Security, of which ICE is a part, concurred with its recommendations, which focused on strengthening its procedures.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 3:00am

A special board that oversees Israeli higher education on the West Bank on Tuesday granted university status to the Ariel University Center, Haaretz reported. The action overruled the decision this month of the body that typically would recommend on granting university status, and which opted not to. University status for Ariel has been championed by advocates of Israeli settlements on the West Bank, but has been denounced by many Israeli academics. Some argue that their country doesn't have enough money for its existing universities. Others fear that granting Ariel university status involves using higher education to promote a more permanent Israeli presence in occupied territories.

 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 4:14am

Brown University on Tuesday announced that it was removing the name of the late Joe Paterno, an alumnus, from an award the university gives to the outstanding male freshman athlete. The university said the decision was based on the report last week that faulted Paterno and other senior Penn State officials for failing to report Jerry Sandusky to authorities promptly upon receiving reports of his conduct.

 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 4:16am

A state panel on Tuesday found that the University of Illinois violated state law by awarding a $4.6 million contract for work on the Urbana-Champaign campus to an architectural firm partly owned by the husband of the administrator who oversees campus planning projects, The Chicago Tribune reported. The state panel expressed frustration both over the contract and the failure of the university to promptly inform the board of the agreement. The matter now goes to the state's inspector general.

 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Joe MacGregor of the University of Texas at Austin explains the mechanics of the fracturing currently plaguing the ice sheet of Antarctica. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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