Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 16, 2014

Gettysburg College has expelled, suspended or otherwise punished 27 students who were found to have violated the Pennsylvania institution's policies stemming from a Philadelphia-area drug ring that ensnared other colleges, too, The Morning Call of Allentown reported.

"It is clear that we are not immune to the problems associated with drug and alcohol abuse among our nation's young people," Gettysburg President Janet Morgan Riggs said in an emailed letter to parents and alumni. "(But) the actions of a few individuals are not reflective of the Gettysburg College community as a whole."

July 16, 2014

Desire2Learn's learning management system now has a name: Brightspace. The company had previously referred to the system as its "integrated learning platform." The name change, along with partnerships with IBM, Microsoft and five major publishers, were announced during Desire2Learn's user conference in Nashville this week.

July 16, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Artur Ekert, professor of quantum physics at the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford, discusses cryptography and efforts to improve security systems. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

July 15, 2014

The financial picture for higher education remains negative, but “green shoots” of stability are emerging, according to a new industry outlook by Moody’s Investors Service.

The usual concerns about higher ed still apply: because students and families worry about price and cost, colleges can’t much raise tuition to increase their revenue; state funding will increase, but not enough to keep up with the growth in expenses; competition for sponsored research will continue to be fierce; and demographic forces will exacerbate stress at weaker colleges, among other concerns.

Moody’s still finds reasons for hope. Among them: long-term demand for higher education remains strong, particularly interest in associate and master’s degrees; rebounds in the job and housing market augur well for the higher ed sector; and endowment returns continue to grow.

July 15, 2014

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Education has not properly overseen the companies it hires to collect defaulted federal student loan debt, according to an audit released Monday by the agency’s inspector general.

The report found that officials at the department did not “effectively” make sure that the 22 companies that the department hired were collecting debt in accordance with federal law missing "rules" or should this be "with federal law"? dl ** should be law. fixed /ms and the terms of their contract. The inspector general also said that the department did not do enough to make sure that borrowers' complaints against debt collectors were properly received and resolved.

Under the terms of the government’s contract with the debt collectors, recurring borrower complaints are supposed to lead to a reduction in their performance scores. The audit says that, in spite of the more than 3,000 complaints the department received between the 2010 and 2012 fiscal years, officials never docked the scores of any of the companies. The department said in response to the audit’s findings that it had taken steps to “close gaps in our oversight” of the companies, including new directions to the debt collectors and a promise to take borrower complaints into account when evaluating the debt collectors.

The department has previously faced other criticism for its oversight of federally contracted debt collectors. A May 2013 inspector general report found that the department had paid out bonuses to the companies without verifying that they had actually been earned.  A leading consumer advocacy group has also criticized department officials for keeping secret how it pays out bonuses to the debt collection companies. The National Consumer Law Center earlier this year filed a lawsuit to force the department to turn over records relating to those bonuses. 

July 15, 2014

A pair of Congressional lawmakers, one Democrat and one Republican, introduced legislation Monday that would compel colleges (including private institutions), conferences and the National Collegiate Athletic Association itself to provide broad financial data that the federal government would publish, USA Today reported. U.S. Reps. David Price, a North Carolina Democrat, and Thomas Petri, a Wisconsin Republican, said their bill would require colleges to make public the detailed revenue and expenditure data they provide to the NCAA (which many private institutions now refuse to provide), and would require conferences and the new College Football Playoff to similarly make their own financial data available.

July 15, 2014

Campbellsville University is seeking to change its relationship with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, such that the university's board would pick its own members and could permit non-Baptists to serve, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. The convention opposes the plan, which could endanger the $1 million that the convention gives the university each year. The university's budget is roughly $57 million.

 

July 15, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Zev Williams, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, women’s health and genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, explains a process known as rescue karyotyping, which allows doctors to look back into the genetic history of a miscarriage. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

July 14, 2014

The University of California at Los Angeles has agreed to pay $500,000 to settled complaints of use of excessive force and racial profiling against a black judge during a traffic stop, The Los Angles Times reported. The UCLA Black Alumni Association will receive $350,000 of the payment, to be used for scholarships. UCLA has also agreed to hold a one-day forum on police-community relations, including the issue of racial profiling.

 

July 14, 2014

A prominent article in The New York Times offers a highly critical look at how Hobart and William Smith Colleges handled a student's complaint that she was sexually assaulted by three football players. The article describes how the college quickly cleared the players -- and physical evidence that emerged backing the female student's complaints. The article also describes how the student felt her privacy was violated, and how she was subject to threats and harassment for having brought the charges.

Hobart on Sunday issued a statement disputing many points in the article. The statement said, for example, that while the article portrayed the case as one in which local authorities were not contacted initially, the local police were contacted within one hour of the report received by the college. The statement says that the college takes sexual assault cases seriously, and that in the past two years, Hobart has adjudicated seven charges of sexual misconduct, four of which led to students being "permanently separated" from Hobart.

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