Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, December 20, 2010 - 3:00am

The faculty of Belmont University on Friday called for the institution to formally bar discrimination based on sexual orientation, The Tennessean reported. The university has been debating issues of bias and sexual orientation in recent weeks, amid reports that a women's soccer coach was forced out of her job because she is a lesbian whose partner is pregnant. The university has denied that sexual orientation is considered in decisions about employees, but current written policies at the university do not bar discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Monday, December 20, 2010 - 3:00am

In 2008, Colorado State University pledged that it would become carbon-neutral "rapidly," but The Coloradoan reported that officials now say that the process will take decades. Emissions have been going up in recent years, and a plan to build an electricity-generating wind farm collapsed, making the goal impossible to reach in the near term.

Monday, December 20, 2010 - 3:00am

A new group of openly gay and lesbian college presidents on Friday released a video both to continue to draw attention to the organization and to join the "It Gets Better" campaign of posting videos to encourage young gay people not to give up hope when facing bullying or discrimination. The presidents and some of their partners talk about some of their past difficulties and current successes -- both personally and professionally. LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education has now had two meetings, and plans to convene again in March in Washington at the annual meeting of the American Council on Education. Here is the video:

Monday, December 20, 2010 - 3:00am

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Friday that he will hold back state funds for Virginia Commonwealth University equivalent to half of the revenue to be gained from a 24 percent tuition increase, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. McDonnell said that the tuition increase -- the largest among the state's public colleges and universities -- was too large at a time of tight budgets for many families. But university officials noted that tuition rates at VCU are lower than state averages, and that the university budget needed to offset the loss of federal stimulus funds.

Monday, December 20, 2010 - 3:00am

The soon-to-be head of the House of Representatives education committee told Bloomberg last week that he is looking for ways to block the Obama administration from putting in place new rules aimed at requiring for-profit and other vocational programs to prove they are preparing their graduates for "gainful employment." Representative John Kline, the Minnesota Republican who will head the Committee on Education and Labor when his party takes control of the House in January, told the news service that he would favor that the government put in place an expanded set of disclosures on outcomes for nonprofit and for-profit colleges alike, and that he believed "a pretty broad spectrum” of lawmakers, from both parties, had concerns about the administration's proposed regulations.

Friday, December 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Measuring graduation rates at 200 percent of the expected time to graduate instead of 150 percent has an impact, but a relatively small one, according to a study released Thursday by the National Center for Education Statistics. The standard federal measure is 150 percent (or six years for a bachelor's degree and three years for an associate degree), but some have suggested that a longer time frame would show many more students finishing. The study found that while there are modest gains, they are smaller than those seen by measuring at 150 percent of expected time instead of 100 percent. At public, four-year colleges, the average gain by measuring rates at eight years over six is 4 percentage points, but the gain from four years to six years is 26 percentage points. For community colleges, the gain by going from three to four years is six percentage points, while the growth from two years to three is 11 percentage points.

Friday, December 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Adam Wheeler, who duped Harvard University into admitting him based on a fake academic record, must repay the university $46,000 after pleading guilty Thursday to larceny, identity fraud and other charges, the Associated Press reported. The funds cover various grants he received based on the false record. He was also sentenced to 10 years of probation and ordered not to profit from the story of his Harvard experience while he is on probation. Wheeler told the court: "I am ashamed and embarrassed by what I've done."

Friday, December 17, 2010 - 3:00am

New York City is seeking a university with strength in engineering and other applied sciences to help run a major new research institute, Bloomberg reported. City officials are considering institutions near and far -- as far away as Israel (where the Technion is under consideration). The selected university may receive funds and land for facilities.

Friday, December 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Laureate International, a worldwide chain of for-profit universities, is planning a major new campus in Australia, Adelaide Now reported. While an official announcement has not been made, government officials are reportedly in discussions about how to support the construction of a $300 million campus in Adelaide.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 3:00am

The economic downturn of the last two years has challenged many colleges completing multi-year fund-raising campaigns -- especially those that announced ambitious targets prior to the sharp drops on Wall Street in the fall of 2008. But Columbia University on Wednesday announced that it is about to meet its $4 billion target (early) and that it is extending the effort and upping the target to $5 billion. The campaign was originally supposed to close at the end of 2011, but the university has already raised $3.9 billion. The campaign is now aiming for $5 billion by the end of 2013.

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