Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 3:00am

Excelencia in Education is releasing later today a report designed to lay out a path to increase Latino degree attainment. The “Roadmap for Ensuring America's Future” recommends ways in which colleges and communities can help 5.5 million more Latino Americans earn degrees to close race and ethnic equity gaps and meet President Obama’s degree attainment goals for 2020.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 3:00am

The leader of the University of the District of Columbia's trustees told members of Washington's city council that the board may require President Allen Sessoms to repay some of the university funds he spent on first-class airfare, The Washington Post reported. Sessoms has come under fire for his spending practices, and the chairman of the UDC board told a sometimes tense meeting of the D.C. Council that the trustees may require the president to reimburse some funds. As has been true in Sessoms' past presidencies, too, his leadership has deeply divided the UDC campus.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a lower court’s 2009 dismissal of a lawsuit by a men’s sports advocacy group that fought James Madison University’s 2006 decision to eliminate seven men’s teams and three women’s teams. Equity in Athletics, the advocacy group, had argued that James Madison “overdid its elimination of male athletes," violating Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Lawrence J. Joseph, one of the group’s attorneys, wrote in a statement, “EIA is disappointed that the panel did not agree with its positions, but we intend to appeal, either in the form of requesting reconsideration in the Fourth Circuit or asking the Supreme Court to hear the case.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 3:00am

The president of Brookdale Community College, under investigation and on unpaid administrative leave for alleged mis- and overspending on travel, has resigned, the Asbury Park Press reported. In a letter to the New Jersey college's board, Peter Burnham said his resignation should not be seen as an admission of guilt, the newspaper reported.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 3:00am

The North Carolina House of Representatives voted Monday to allow community colleges to opt out of offering low-interest federal loans to their students. The bill, which now goes to the Senate for likely approval, would scale back 2010 legislation requiring all community colleges in the state to participate in the federal loan program by July. Several community college presidents in the state have expressed concern that participation in the federal loan program would put their students at risk of losing federal financial aid if too many students at their institution do not repay their loans. Monday’s vote fell mostly along party lines, with Republicans supporting the opt-out bill and Democrats opposing it. Representative Ray Rapp, a Democrat who voted against the bill, told The News & Observer, “This is a frontal assault on the ability of students to pay for college.” Kennon Briggs, the system's executive vice president, told Inside Higher Ed that last year he had told the state legislature, "We prefer that this be a matter of local decision making and of choice because within our system you have varying degrees of wealth, private support and average income." Still, he clarified that the community college system would follow any directive of the state legislature. If the opt-out bill is signed into law, Briggs said that 24 community colleges in the state would participate in the federal loan program and 34 would not.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Adelphi University's Roni Berger discusses her experience as an eyewitness to revolution on a recent trip to Tunisia. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Southern California today will announce a $200 million gift to rename its College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the Los Angeles Times reported. The donation, from David Dornsife, an alumnus, and his wife Dana, comes with no restrictions on how it can be spent, to the delight of President C. L. Max Nikias, who told the newspaper the gift was "transformative." USC plans to use the funds to support faculty hiring, research and fellowships, and its officials said the money would especially bolster the humanities and social sciences, the Times said.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Lu Hardin, the former president of the University of Central Arkansas, on Monday pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud and money laundering charges, the Associated Press reported. Hardin admitted to forging a letter to the university's board saying that it could approve a $300,000 deferred compensation package for him, a benefit that later was criticized by many as inappropriate. The letter Hardin wrote was submitted in the name of a university vice president and general counsel, both of whom were not involved in the letter. Hardin quit Central Arkansas in 2008 as the controversy over the compensation package grew, and then became president of Palm Beach Atlantic University. He quit that position on Friday.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- It's one thing for Clayton M. Christensen to share with a bunch of Washington think tankers his warnings that colleges must change or die, as he did at the American Enterprise Institute last month. But directly to the faces of college presidents themselves, at the annual gathering of their main national association? Yet there was the Harvard Business School professor known for documenting how industries get transformed by "disruptive technologies" on Monday, telling hundreds of college chiefs at the annual meeting of the American Council on Education that he was not at all sure in 20 years if their institutions would still be around. Some of Christensen's ideas (drawn from a paper he co-wrote with Henry Eyring of Brigham Young University-Idaho called "The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education") and comments may have stung, notably his prediction that distance education, done well, can subject existing higher education to disruption that could render many existing institutions irrelevant in two decades. "There is good reason for many of us to think that we might be okay in 20 years. But I think we might be wrong," he said.

But with a good-natured, deadpan delivery and a powerful personal story -- having re-learned how to speak after suffering a stroke in July -- Christensen captivated an audience that could well have found his comments disturbing instead.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Seven months after taking the presidency of Capella University and four months into the job, Larry Isaak is leaving the for-profit higher education company. Capella, an online university that focuses on graduate education, issued a cryptic announcement late Friday saying that Isaak has "made the personal decision to step down and will pursue other opportunities." Isaak did not reply to e-mail messages seeking comment, and officials at the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, the regional policy group that Isaak headed before leaving for Capella, could not be reached for comment. The compact had not yet hired a replacement for Isaak, who was chancellor of the North Dakota University System before leading MHEC.

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