Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter on Thursday appointed himself and several aides to the board of the Community College of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The board has not previously had a mayor among its members. "What's at work here very simply is that Mayor Nutter has been, from the start of his term as mayor, deeply concerned about and invested in the issues of education and job training and workforce development," a spokesman for the mayor said. "At the nexus, really, of all those issues is Community College of Philadelphia."
Higher Education Quick Takes
A new feature for student borrowers on the Education Department's National Student Loan Data System might have revealed personal data about borrowers, mimicking another data breach a year ago. The system, a clearinghouse for borrowers and institutions to get information about student loans, recently added a way for borrowers to download all of their data with one click. But some borrowers, when they tried, got information for other borrowers instead, according to financial aid listservs. A similar error happened last year, affecting about 5,000 borrowers: people who logged in to the system saw information for other borrowers instead of their own.
The Education Department was unable to immediately provide any more information about the alleged glitch on Wednesday.
In the first presidential debate, held at the University of Denver on Wednesday night, Republican nominee Mitt Romney said he wouldn't cut federal spending on education, and that he expects spending on the Pell Grant to continue to grow. While the 90-minute debate was peppered with references to education, including higher education, Romney's remarks were the only new policy statements on how the next administration (of either party) might deal with colleges and universities.
But given Romney's support for tough domestic spending cuts, and a consensus even among supporters of the Pell Grant that the program's growth must be contained, the statement was something of a surprise. Obama argued that his challenger's math didn't add up — that Romney couldn't cut both taxes and the deficit and also protect his budget priorities.
Community colleges also got some airtime during the debate, as President Obama praised them as a source for job training programs and Romney vowed to streamline those programs. But the two candidates largely stuck to older campaign themes on higher education issues, including Obama citing ending bank-based student loan program as an accomplishment of his administration.
Ontario Wooden, a dean at North Carolina Central University, has been arrested and charged with assaulting a colleague, The Durham Herald-Sun reported. The arrest warrant for Wooden said that he "unlawfully and willfully" assaulted a woman (an unnamed employee at the university) "by grabbing her forearm and shoving her against a cabinet, causing scratches and bruises on the forearm and upper left shoulder." The dean was released on bond, and the university declined to comment on the arrest.
Controversial research on hydraulic fracking has ended at Pennsylvania State University, Bloomberg reported. Many have criticized the research because of its support by a pro-fracking research group, and questions about whether there was sufficient disclosure of that tie. The faculty member who did the original research has left the university, and now there is not any faculty member willing to do the research, so the group cannot continue to fund the project at the university.
Mike McQueary, the former assistant football coach at Pennsylvania State University, is suing the institution for $4 million, saying he was forced out of his job for reporting an incident in which he saw Jerry Sandusky engaged in inappropriate behavior with a boy, The Centre Daily Times reported. Penn State officials have said that the suit is baseless. But McQueary's suit says that he was forced out of his job and that he is unable to get work in football coaching because of the Penn State scandal, and the perception created by some at the university that he was was part of a cover-up.
Mitchell College, in Connecticut, is laying off seven professors, 20 percent of the full-time faculty, The Day reported. College officials said that they were forced to take action because enrollment this fall is 720 full-time students, not the expected 760. The faculty members losing their jobs have been at the college for between 2 and 10 years.
The vice chancellor of the University of Oxford on Tuesday announced a major expansion of the university's fund-raising campaign, but also warned that philanthropy cannot replace state support for higher education. Andrew Hamilton, the vice chancellor, upped the goal for the campaign from £1.25 million to £3 billion (or from $2 billion to $4.8 billion). In a speech praising the role of philanthropy, he also cautioned against assuming that it can pay for all the costs associated with the university. Philanthropy is not, he said, "a magic bullet for the future funding of our universities, and nor is it a door through which the state can progressively leave the scene."