Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 30, 2013

George Wasson on Monday resigned as president of the Meramec campus of the St. Louis Community College, effective immediately, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The college has been under intense criticism for its handling of an assault on a female student. The alleged attacker -- who has since been arrested -- was originally released with just a verbal warning, infuriating not only the victim and her family, but many others on the campus.

 

April 30, 2013

Boston University -- still recovering from the death of one of its students in the bombings at the Boston Marathon -- is facing another tragedy. A senior at the university was killed in a fire off campus early Sunday. Nine other residents of the building (including two other Boston University students) were injured.

April 30, 2013

President Obama used a speech Monday at the 150th anniversary meeting of the National Academy of Sciences to pledge that he would continue to push for research funding. "[A]s long as I’m president, we’re going to continue to be committed to investing in the promising ideas that are generated from you and your institutions, because they lead to innovative products, they help boost our economy, but also because that’s who we are.  I’m committed to it because that’s what makes us special and ultimately what makes life worth living," he said.

Further, at a time that Republicans in Congress are questioning the validity of peer review decisions, Obama expressed strong support for peer review. "[W]e’ve got to protect our rigorous peer review system and ensure that we only fund proposals that promise the biggest bang for taxpayer dollars.  And I will keep working to make sure that our scientific research does not fall victim to political maneuvers or agendas that in some ways would impact on the integrity of the scientific process.  That’s what’s going to maintain our standards of scientific excellence for years to come," the president said.

While a number of presidents have addressed the annual gathering of the academy, President Obama is the first to speak more than once at these meetings. He previously addressed the scientists in 2009.

 

April 30, 2013

The Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation has donated $15 million to the City University of New York's New Community College, which will be renamed in honor of the Guttmans. The new college is based on a number of curricular innovations designed to promote high completion and transfer rates. The foundation also gave CUNY another $10 million for other community college efforts.

There is some dispute over the largest gift to a community college, but by some measures CUNY's newest community college may now have a claim, and it certainly has one of the largest of such donations.

April 30, 2013

Dominican University of California announced last week that it had for many years misreported admissions data to the Education Department as well as to U.S. News & World Report and other groups that rank colleges. At Dominican, the problem was in calculating the number of applications. Contrary to established procedures, Dominican counted incomplete applications in determining the total number of applications. As a result, the college's admission rate appeared more competitive than it really is. For the class that entered in the fall of 2011, Dominican had reported a 53.7 percent admission rate. The real rate was 72.6 percent.

 

April 29, 2013

The Internal Revenue Service last week released a report documenting its findings from a series of audits it conducted stemming from a broad, six-year review of tax compliance at hundreds of colleges. The report contained relatively few surprises, given that the revenue service had previewed its conclusions in previous analyses at earlier stages of its comprehensive review. The major findings of the Colleges and Universities Compliance Project Final Report focused, among other things, on colleges' improperly unrelated business income losses from activities that did not qualify because the agency determined that they had not been conducted with the purpose of making a profit.

 

April 29, 2013

Colleges should not retaliate against students who raise a civil rights complaint – either with an individual institution or with the federal government – The U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights said in a “Dear Colleague” letter sent out last week. “Discriminatory practices are often only raised and remedied when students, parents, teachers, coaches, and others can report such practices to school administrators without the fear of retaliation,” the letter reads. “Individuals should be commended when they raise concerns about compliance with the Federal civil rights laws, not punished for doing so.”

In February, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student said the campus judicial filed charges against her after she spoke out about her rape and what she said was a flawed Honor Court hearing. Administrators initially said they couldn’t intervene because the court is student-run, but UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp suspended the proceedings the following month when the student filed a federal complaint alleging retaliation.

It’s been a little over two years since OCR began cracking down on sexual assault with a dear colleague letter reminding colleges of their responsibilities to address the issue under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. In recent months, students have filed Title IX complaints regarding sexual discrimination and subsequent mistreatment by their universities at a handful of institutions, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Occidental College and Swarthmore University.
 

April 29, 2013

French studies is fading at many Canadian universities outside of Quebec, The Globe and Mail reported. Relatively few students are signing up for the programs, the article said, and budget cuts have led universities to close or shrink programs with low enrollments.

 

April 29, 2013

After three judicial losses, Quinnipiac University has agreed to retain all of its women’s sports, settling a lawsuit that began in 2011 alleging that the institution violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 when it attempted to cut volleyball and replaced it with competitive cheerleading. The settlement mandates that the university keep volleyball for at least three more years, and add more women’s scholarships and other benefits, including facilities improvements and full-time coaches. A federal judge first ruled that replacing volleyball with competitive cheerleading violated Title IX in July 2010 because the latter did not qualify as a varsity sport and thus, the university was not providing equal athletic opportunities for women. A U.S. Court of Appeals reaffirmed that ruling in August, and just last month, a federal judge ruled that Quinnipiac had made some progress toward coming into compliance with Title IX but not enough to lift the injunction that prevented Quinnipiac from eliminating volleyball.

April 29, 2013

A California judge ruled Friday that Patrick Harran, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, must stand trial on charges in a lab fire the caused the death of his assistant in 2008, The Los Angeles Times reported. He had sought to have the judge dismiss felony charges of violating state health and safety rules. Harran, backed by the university, has maintained that the death was the result of a tragic accident, not any violations of law.

 

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