Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, August 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Everyone knows what to expect in the class updates. So-and-so made partner, bought a new house, had a second kid, made plans to attend homecoming. Some Yale University alumni were thus taken aback when a note in the Class of '73 section of the alumni magazine opened this way: "Sam Taylor sent this intriguing note. 'Did you know that one of your classmates is officially considered a 'hate-monger' by the Southern Poverty Law Center. I believe this is a first for Yale." He went on to plug his latest book (he writes under the name of Jared Taylor), White Identity: Racial Consciousness in the 21st Century. E-mails from Inside Higher Ed to the editor and class notes editor of Yale Alumni Magazine were not answered. While some readers assume that alumni may exaggerate their activities just a bit in class notes, Taylor was truthful when he said he has been criticized by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Monday, August 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Law schools and the American Bar Association, facing criticism over the accuracy and completeness of job placement statistics, have been planning new requirements. But last week, NALP: The Association for Legal Career Professionals, wrote the ABA to oppose proposals that would require more reporting by law schools to the ABA on the issue. NALP, which has collected such data, said that dual reporting requirements would impose burdens on law schools and discourage them from participating in NALP's surveys. Moving ahead with its plans would be "detrimental and harmful to legal education, and will in the long term diminish the amount of information available about the legal employment market," the NALP letter said.

Friday, July 29, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Brent Plate of Hamilton College explores the point at which art
becomes blasphemy. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, July 29, 2011 - 3:00am

A state investigation has concluded that the tuition increases proposed by Michigan State and Wayne State Universities do not exceed the 7.1 percent cap set by state leaders, so the institutions do not face the loss of millions in state funds, The Detroit News reported. A legislative agency had said this month that the two universities' proposed increases would exceed the cap, which lawmakers set to try to limit the extent to which institutions sought to make up for state budget cuts by charging more to students and families. Officials at Michigan State and Wayne State said that the state's method of accounting misstated their increases, and letters sent to the universities' presidents by the state budget director pegged the increases at 6.9 percent. Michigan State will receive its $18.3 million "tuition incentive grant," and Wayne State $12.8 million.

Friday, July 29, 2011 - 3:00am

Officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided the building of an unaccredited university in Virginia Thursday and told its officials that the government intended to stop the institution from enrolling foreign students, NBC News's Washington affiliate reported. The television station's website said a note on a door at the University of Northern Virginia said that the institution must temporarily cease enrolling foreign students. The institution enrolls many students from India, and the U.S. government has cracked down in recent months on institutions suspected of helping students earn visas through the pursuit of a questionable education.

Friday, July 29, 2011 - 3:00am

Like many university presidents, Daniel Woolf, of Queen's University, in Canada, prepares periodic private memos for his board about challenges facing the university. This week, Woolf's private memo was leaked and posted on Facebook, leading to much discussion of his frank analysis (and comparisons to other universities), Maclean's reported. “At Queen’s, where the financial situation is particularly acute, the quality that once defined the institution is clearly being compromised,” he wrote. "It would have been unthinkable 20 years ago that the quality reputation of undergraduate education at Queen’s would be challenged by Waterloo and McMaster …to say nothing of Guelph – but it is clearly happening.”

Friday, July 29, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Michigan Board of Regents has voted, over administrators' objections, to allow research assistants to unionize. But the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and a University of Michigan graduate student research assistant, have filed a complaint with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission trying to block the move to let the research assistants engage in collective bargaining, The Detroit Free Press reported.

Friday, July 29, 2011 - 3:00am

Under the Obama administration, the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights is gaining a reputation for tougher and speedier enforcement of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. But an investigation by The New York Times documents many cases that have languished for years, from well before the current administration. The lead example: OCR has yet to complete an inquiry into a complaint filed in 1998 about opportunities for female athletes at the University of Southern California.

The San Jose Mercury News reported on one case that has been resolved. Santa Clara University has settled a complaint about its treatment of female athletes by agreeing to build an on-campus softball field by 2016. The team currently plays at another campus.

Friday, July 29, 2011 - 3:00am

A state audit has criticized the University of California at Los Angeles for spending money from a student activities fund on a student center, and also has raised questions about why campuses in the University of California system with higher minority enrollments have lower per capita budgets, The Los Angeles Times reported. Mark G. Yudof, president of the university system, said officials would strive to explain funding patterns, but he added that "there is absolutely no basis — statistically, historically, or ethically" for linking those patterns to issues of race. A critical look at the university's spending, based on the audit results, is on the Changing Universities blog.

Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- In a Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday morning, Education Secretary Arne Duncan reiterated the Obama administration's commitment to keeping the maximum Pell Grant at $5,550 in fiscal year 2012, although the grants are the main reason the Education Department's requested budget has increased 20 percent since 2010. "We desperately want to preserve that maximum Pell Grant," Duncan said, adding that the administration has made "tough calls," including ending year-round Pell Grants and proposing the end of interest subsidies on graduate student loans, in order to make that possible.

Senator Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican member of the subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, responded that the department would have to prioritize. "How are we going to pay for this? That's the bottom line," Shelby said. "What are your priorities in the Department of Education? ... You're going to have to make some decisions."

Although much of the hearing was devoted to elementary and secondary education programs, Duncan also responded to Senator Dick Durbin, a frequent critic of for-profit education who called proprietary colleges a "Ponzi scheme" that made him less willing to vote for federal financial aid programs. "We've tried to move in the right direction, and seen significant changes in behavior," Duncan said of the department's program integrity rules. "I think this is going the right way, and I feel much more comfortable in our investments in grants and loans -- more comfortable today than before we did our regulation."

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