Higher Education Quick Takes
The quality of data used to inform state policy decisions on education has improved, according to a new analysis from the Data Quality Campaign, but still lags in many areas. For example, only a few states are using broad data on whether students need remediation in college. Also of concern are efforts to track workforce development: 38 states are not adequately matching and sharing data between colleges and the workforce.
Inadequate and diluted resources at the state regulatory level have led to lax oversight of for-profit colleges, according to a new report from the National Consumer Law Center, and those regulatory gaps have contributed to fraud and other problems. The Boston-based consumer advocacy group found that regulators are often understaffed, particularly in Delaware, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Washington and Wyoming. The report also claims state for-profit supervisory boards often include industry representatives, sometimes even a majority hailing from for-profits, which is a conflict of interest that gives the industry "undue influence."
A black student at the University of South Carolina at Beaufort has set off a campus debate by displaying the Confederate flag in his dormitory window, the Associated Press reported. The student removed the flag at the request of university officials, but is now considering a return of the flag. While many see the flag as a symbol of white supremacy, Bryon Thomas disagrees. "When I look at this flag, I don't see racism. I see respect, Southern pride," he said. But Thomas added that "I know it's kind of weird because I'm black."
Barbara D. Savage, a professor of history and American social thought at the University of Pennsylvania, has been named winner of the 2012 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion. Savage was honored for her 2008 book Your Spirits Walk Beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion (Harvard University Press). The award is given jointly by the University of Louisville and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Bard College announced Wednesday that it has assumed ownership of the European College of Liberal Arts, in Berlin, Germany. ECLA will be a new satellite institution of Bard, with the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation providing financial support for the transition. ECLA was founded in 1999, one of a several small liberal arts colleges operating in Europe -- a region where large universities are the norm. Bard plans to expand the college's programs, and to offer dual degrees recognized in the United States and in Germany. The college also plans a study abroad program for American students who want to spend a semester or year studying in Berlin.
The American Association of University Professors on Wednesday released a letter it sent to Middle Tennessee State University, objecting to its recent move to stop giving the titles of various ranks of professor to some full-time non-tenure-track faculty members. The university recently sent new contracts to these faculty members, saying that to keep their jobs they would have to accept new titles -- lecturer and senior lecturer. The AAUP letter says that changing terms of employment in this way, and threatening to punish those who don't accept the changes, is a "reprehensible" act.
A spokesman for the university said via e-mail that the title changes were being made at the request of the Tennessee Board of Regents, which in April informed the university that it was using job titles for non-tenure-track faculty members that were "counter" to the board's policy. "We have been working for months on this issue with several of our key faculty groups, including the Faculty Senate, the Council of Chairs and the Dean's Council," the spokesman said.
The first civil suit has been filed against Pennsylvania State University in the sex-abuse scandal that broke last month. The New York Times reported that the suit was filed by a 29-year-old man who was not one of the victims cited in the original indictments. The suit says that Jerry Sandusky abused him more than 100 times during a four-year period when he was a boy. The suit says that the abuse took place in many locations, some of them at Penn State and in one instance at a bowl game. Sandusky has denied abusing boys, but has not commented on the suit, which is against him, Penn State and a charity Sandusky founded.
Citing recent protests, the California State University System called off a board committee meeting scheduled for next week, saying that it could not be sure of the safety of the gathering. The committee was expected to discuss issues of presidential compensation -- and one of the complaints of protesting students (and some faculty members and politicians as well) is that the system is spending too much on pay for its executives.
The California Institute of Technology may have found "the perfect time" to sell a bond that matures over 100 years, and the university was able to obtain a record low interest rate, The Wall Street Journal reported. The record-low yield was 4.744 percent.