Higher Education Quick Takes
Four students at Florida State University and one teaching assistant in English were arrested in a sting operation in which they went to a location where they thought they were going to meet a 14-year-old, but instead were met by police officers, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. A Florida A&M University student was also arrested.
Alabama now has a second community college president facing questions over his doctorate. Gary Branch, the president at Faulkner State Community College, has only an honorary doctorate, but is regularly called "Dr. Gary Branch," The Press-Register reported. Branch said that he has never hid the honorary nature of his doctorate. He said that he doesn't call himself "Dr.," although many other people do. But the Press-Register noted that Alabama's community colleges have a policy under which all references to any honorary doctorate must make clear that the degree was not earned. The newspaper noted that the state directory of community colleges is among the documents that identify the president of the college as "Dr." News about Branch comes in the wake of the discovery that the president and dean of Bishop State Community College have doctorates from unaccredited institutions.
The University of South Florida Polytechnic says that the hiring of two sons of Marshall Goldman, the chancellor, did not violate anti-nepotism rules, The St. Petersburg Times reported. Goldman was not available for comment. One son was hired as a consultant without his knowledge, officials said, and Goldman reimbursed the university for what he was paid. As for the other son, the university said that he does not report to his father in a job that involves coordinating internships and special events at four business incubators. A spokeswoman for the university said: "USF Polytechnic recognizes the concerns of nepotism and has made additional efforts to ensure we follow proper procedures."
Insead, a leading French university, has introduced a series of programs that officials credit with increasing the percentage of students who are female to 33 percent, up from 17 in 2005, The New York Times reported.
About 20 percent of full-time community college students fail to continue beyond their first year, after federal, state and local governments have already spent $1 billion on their higher education, according to a new study by Mark Schneider, vice president at the American Institutes of Research and a former commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. The study looked at first-time, full-time community college students who were seeking credentials. Government spending on those students who did not return for a second year has increased, hitting $1 billion in 2008-9, an increase of 35 percent over five years. The $4 billion spent during that period included $3 billion in education-related state and local appropriations, $240 million in state grants and $660 million in federal grants.
"Simply saying that the nation needs more community college graduates and continuing to pump more money and more students into the existing system is not the answer," concluded Schneider, who recently wrote a critical study on the costs and benefits of a bachelor's degree. The report suggested several possible solutions for retaining community college students, including prior-learning assessment, "hybrid" learning platforms, better approaches to remedial education, and performance-based funding.
Forty-five faculty members at Belmont University have signed an open letter stating that they oppose torture and the death penalty, and back constitutional freedoms, The City Paper of Nashville reported. The letter does not name one of the newest faculty members at Belmont, Alberto Gonzales, but is believed to have been prompted by his appointment. Gonzales was attorney general under President George W. Bush and his views on those issues have been widely criticized by many (while being praised by others).
In today’s Academic Minute, Tallys Yunes of the University of Miami reveals how computers have greatly simplified the complex process of scheduling umpire crews for Major League Baseball. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.
Money from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, part of the 2009 stimulus legislation, helped states shore up higher education and avoid layoffs and tuition increases but did not avert them entirely, according to a study released Tuesday by the New America Foundation's Federal Education Budget Project.
The foundation conducted case studies on eight states to see how they used their portions of the $48.6 billion program, $39.6 billion of which was intended for education spending. Some practices differed from state to state -- Wyoming required institutions to use the majority of the money for facility improvements, while North Carolina and Nevada used the funds for salaries and benefits, for example -- but overall, they found that most states required at least a portion of the money be spent on salaries and benefits. Since these are ongoing expenses, that might not bode well for the future now that the money has run out. "Looking forward into 2012, institutions in the states selected for this case study are facing uncertain futures," the author, Jennifer Cohen, wrote. "While many of them believe their budget situations have stabilized, they are still functioning under strict
WASHINGTON -- Keith Wilson, who served as the face of the Post-9/11 GI Bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs during the program's rocky first year and into stability recently, is leaving his post as the department's education service director to head a regional office. The move came as a surprise to some who have worked closely with the department on veterans' benefits.
Wilson was a staple at hearings on Capitol Hill after the rollout of the Post-9/11 GI Bill encountered a series of problems in 2009. The program was plagued by processing delays, with veterans' groups and lawmakers calling for improvements. Although the program began to function more smoothly after the backlog was resolved, observers suggested that burnout from the early tumult could have played a role in Wilson's decision.
"His leadership has been instrumental in the success of implementing the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the challenges that have confronted the agency notwithstanding," said Russell Kitchner, vice president for regulatory and government relations with the American Public University System, which enrolls a large number of veterans.
Who will take Wilson's place is unclear, but Veterans Affairs said Wednesday that he will not leave until a replacement has been found. "I just hope that during the transition, the VA maintains the relationship that Keith had developed with the higher education community," said James Selbe, vice president in the department of military operations at University of Maryland University College. "He was really at the forefront as the conversation occurred throughout implementation, especially when changes were being proposed and after those changes were put in place."