Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 3:00am

Karen Pletz, former president of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, was found dead early Tuesday in Florida, The Kansas City Star reported. The cause of death has not been released, but there were no signs of foul play. Pletz was a widely respected civic leader in Kansas City credited with promoting growth at the university. Her firing in 2009 stunned her many supporters. Last year, a federal grand jury indicted her on charges that she had embezzled more than $1.5 million from the university, engaged in money laundering, and falsified tax returns. She had denied wrongdoing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 3:00am

Newt Gingrich, who is experiencing a surge in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination, said Monday that -- as president -- he would teach a free online course, NBC reported. He said that the course would be distributed in a manner similar to the online offerings of Kaplan or the University of Phoenix. The subject matter would be his policies. Gingrich holds a Ph.D. in history.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 3:00am

Twenty current or former students of a wealthy Long Island high school have now been charged in an SAT cheating scandal, the Associated Press reported. Thirteen of the charges were filed by the local district attorney on Tuesday. Some of those charged allegedly paid others to take the SAT on their behalf. Prosecutors said that they believed that 40 students and former students were involved, but that the statute of limitations prevented charges from being brought against all of them.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 3:00am

Three American students studying abroad at the American University in Cairo were arrested Monday while participating in a protest near Tahrir Square.

Luke Gates, 21, from Bloomington, Ind., and an Indiana University student; Derrik Sweeney, 20, from Jefferson City, Miss., and a Georgetown University student; and Gregory Porter, 19, from Glenside, Pa., and a Drexel University student, were all arrested on suspicion of throwing Molotov cocktails, said Morgan Roth, the university’s director of communication for North America. Roth said it is too early to assess the accusations against the students, and she does not know if the students were targeted or rounded up in a large group.

Roth said she does not know if the three students have been formally charged by the Egyptian authorities, but they are currently being detained at a courthouse facility. All three of the students were enrolled at AUC for the semester.  Gates and Porter are taking general studies classes, and Sweeney is enrolled in the Arabic language institute, Roth said.

Roth said the university has contacted the American Embassy to help administrators monitor the students’ whereabouts and well-being. Roth said the university is in fact-finding mode currently, and could not say if the students will remain in Cairo when they are released. She said the university frequently sends messages to the university community to alert them of any potential danger or violence.  “We take the temperature all the time,” she said. “We don’t want our students who are not from Cairo and haven’t learned its rhythms to get caught up.”



Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 3:00am

The number of college faculty members and administrators edged up by 2.6 percent in 2010, to nearly 3.9 million, with growth coming disproportionately at for-profit colleges and among part-time workers, according to a federal report Tuesday. The annual report examines staffing levels and salaries at postsecondary institutions that qualify to award federal financial aid, and the key findings of this year's report generally continue the trends of recent years. Of the roughly 100,000 gain in total employees employed by the colleges in 2010 over 2009, about 50,000 of them work part time (though part-time employees make up slightly more than a third of all postsecondary employees), and for-profit colleges added about 40,000 workers. The proportion of full-time faculty members who have tenure or are on the tenure track slipped by a full percentage point, to 62.7 percent from 63.7 in 2009.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 3:00am

The family of a donor to Johns Hopkins University is suing the university, claiming that administrators are violating the intent of a gift agreement made when Elizabeth Beall Banks sold a 138-acre farm to the university at a discounted price in 1989. The university plans to develop the land into a science park as part of an economic development plan created by Montgomery County, Md. While the deed limits the use of the property to “agricultural, academic, research and development, delivery of health and medical care and services, or related purposes only,” which a spokesman for the university said the institution is abiding by, the family claims that the university is developing the property too densely and for commercial purposes, violating the original agreement. The university has not formally responded to the suit.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 4:40am

The University of California at Davis plans to drop all charges against the students on whom it used pepper spray last week, and also will pay their medical bills. Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi made those announcements Tuesday night at a town hall meeting on campus, The Sacramento Bee reported. With calls growing for her resignation, Katehi is speaking out more about her views on what happened.

An Associated Press account of Tuesday's meeting said that Katehi said she barred the police from using force. "I explicitly directed the chief of police that violence should be avoided at all costs. It was the absolute last thing I ever wanted to happen," Katehi was quoted as saying. "Because encampments have long been prohibited by UC policy, I directed police only to take down the tents. My instructions were for no arrests and no police force."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 3:00am

Florida A&M University has called off all performances by its marching band, amid reports that one of its members who died over the weekend in Orlando was the victim of hazing, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Law enforcement officials said that they believed the death was hazing-related. Officials at Florida A&M said that they had received seven reports of hazing over the last decade.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 3:00am

Several higher education associations have asked the Department of Defense to withdraw a new memorandum of understanding outlining the guidelines colleges and universities must follow if they wish to award educational assistance to military service members, citing requirements that the groups say are "incompatible" with many colleges' academic policies and practices. Specifically, the letter to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta says that many institutions would choose not to sign the "memorandum of understanding" for the agency's Military Assistance Program because provisions related to the awarding of academic credit, residency requirements and other matters "are at odds with traditional assumptions about federal versus institutional control over academic affairs."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jonathan Bobaljik of the University of Connecticut reveals what we can learn from studying languages on the verge of extinction. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.


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