Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, June 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Molly Easo Smith has resigned as president of Manhattanville College, after two years in office, The Journal News reported. A statement Wednesday, announcing her resignation on Tuesday, said that she had achieved many of the goals that had been set when she was hired. But she has also seen several controversies, including protests last year over the resignations of two popular administrators.

Thursday, June 2, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Pennsylvania State University's Judith Kroll offers a glimpse into the inner workings of the bilingual mind. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011 - 3:00am

West Virginia University sent 15,000 people a message -- intended for only 688 -- telling them that they were no longer eligible for various financial aid programs, The State Journal reported. The university is not sure how many of the 15,000 people actually received the message, since some are former students who wouldn't have had cause for alarm, but the university sent out a correction and apologized for the confusion.

Thursday, June 2, 2011 - 3:00am

When Richard McCormick announced this week that he is retiring from the presidency of Rutgers University, he spoke of his excitement about returning to a faculty position in history. The Star-Ledger reported he is assured by his contract that his salary as a faculty member will be $335,000, not exactly a standard history professor's pay. That's because his presidential contract contains a provision stating that, should McCormick ever return to teaching at Rutgers, his salary could be "no less" than that of the highest paid faculty member in the system. The new salary, however, will be less than his current one as president, $550,000.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Enrollment in Reserve Officers Training Corps participation is up 27 percent over the last four years, The Los Angeles Times reported. The decisions of several elite colleges to restore ROTC units, in the wake of the Congressional vote requiring the end of military discrimination against gay people, have attracted widespread attention, but most of those units are expected to be small. Nationally, students are attracted to ROTC by the lucrative scholarships, and do not appear deterred by ongoing military actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Senate's education panel will hold another in a series of hearings about for-profit colleges next week -- and the committee's Republican members have made clear again that they view the hearings as one-sided and will not participate. Little is known at this point about the June 7 hearing, although its title -- "Drowning in Debt: Financial Outcomes of Students at For-Profit Colleges" -- leaves little to the imagination. Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who heads the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, has been persistently critical of commercial colleges, and has staged a set of hearings dating to last summer that focus on various aspects of their operations. In a letter to Harkin Tuesday, his Republican counterpart, Senator Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, reiterated earlier concerns that the panel is focusing on for-profit colleges when the underlying problems -- "the rising cost of higher education, student debt and student outcomes" -- exist "throughout all sectors of higher education.... [U]ntil the Majority demonstrates a sincere willingness to hold fair proceedings on higher education, we will not participate in any hearings on this issue."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Cornell University has proposed replacing temporary fences on the bridges over gorges that are omnipresent on the campus with wire mesh nets. The fences were installed last year after a cluster of suicides -- in which students killed themselves jumping into the gorges -- stunned the campus, and led to debate over whether fences were needed. The university said it needed to take action to stop suicides, but many complained that the fences were a constant reminder of the suicides and marred the natural beauty of the campus. A statement from Susan Murphy, vice president for student and academic services, said: "We've taken care to submit designs that will preserve the aesthetic value of the bridges and vistas. We believe the designs also will make vulnerable members of our community feel safer and reduce the incidence of a highly lethal and potentially contagious form of suicide."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - 3:00am

The question of whether law schools are adequately preparing their graduates for jobs after graduation -- and accurately informing them -- has been fodder for hunger-striking protesters and other critics. Now those issues are a matter for the courts, as a recent law graduate has sued California's Thomas Jefferson School of Law in state court, National Law Journal reported. The class action filed by Anna Alaburda alleges that "[f]or more than 15 years, TJSL has churned out graduates, many of whom have little or no hope of working as attorneys at any point in their careers," and that the school's placement statistics "were false, misleading, and intentionally designed to deceive all who read them." A spokeswoman for Thomas Jefferson told the legal newspaper that the institution follows American Bar Association guidelines on placement data and that its statistics are accurate. "This lawsuit is very much about a larger debate. This is part of the debate about whether it's practical to pursue a graduate degree in these difficult economic times," the spokeswoman said.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Peter Black, of the State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry, draws a line between the good and the bad when it comes to acidity in rain. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - 3:00am

In a highly unusual move, the president of Hocking College on Tuesday sent out an e-mail newsletter in which he attacked his board and said that its members were trying to undercut him, The Athens News reported. Ron Erickson, the president of the Ohio college, said that board members were micromanaging decisions, ignoring agreements on how the president and board could work together and planning to replace him. Board members denied wrongdoing, and some criticized the president for making a public statement as he did.

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