Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 3, 2012

Saudi Arabia's Cultural Mission to the United States has banned Saudi students from enrolling in an English language program at Southern Utah University, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The program is currently investigating allegations that it looks the other way at plagiarism and has lax academic standards to keep foreign students enrolled. Saudi students make up 158 of the 182 students enrolled.

December 3, 2012

Emmanuel Christian Seminary, the Tennessee college that cited financial concerns as one reason for threatening to fire a tenured professor for cause earlier this year, has received a $3 million gift from a donor, the largest in the college's history. Emmanuel's president told Chris Rollston, a professor of Old Testament and Semitic studies, that he should look for work elsewhere because his liberal theological views were offending students and prospective donors. Rollston's status at Emmanuel is still in flux, but the college announced the gift, from an unnamed Christian donor, to students earlier this week..

The money will be used for debt reduction and could hasten a merger between Emmanuel and its neighbor, Milligan College, which both institutions have said they are exploring. "Since the discussions between Milligan and Emmanuel began, Emmanuel has been blessed with a significant gift from a donor who has designated these funds to go toward relieving their debt," Milligan said in a statement. "Both institutions are grateful for God’s provision through this donor." A letter of intent between both institutions has begun the due diligence that could lead to a merger, Emmanuel announced.

 
December 3, 2012

Giving students and parents targeted information about colleges' pricing and outcomes is a worthy goal that could improve their decision-making about higher education, the Center for American Progress says in a report released today. But the federal government's process for developing its "College Scorecard" has fallen well short in practice, says the report, which offers a slew of recommendations for how the government could rework the document, particularly with advice from actual consumers. Among the report's findings are that the government should: test ways of communicating the concept of “net price”; emphasize four-year graduation rates, not six-year rates, if further testing confirms that the shorter time-frame is more relevant to students’ decision-making; and develop alternative measures of student debt that matter to students if further testing confirms that traditional measures such as repayment rate or default rate are not meaningful to students.

December 3, 2012

Peter F. Burnham, former president of Brookdale Community College, in New Jersey, was sentenced Friday to five years in jail for using college funds to pay for $44,000 in personal expenses, and for accepting $20,000 in tuition reimbursement for his son to attend Monmouth University when his son's tuition was already covered by financial aid, The Daily Record reported. The prosecutor, Christopher Gramiccioni, said that Burnham was arrogant in thinking he could do whatever he wanted with college funds. "He was the king, and everyone else were his subjects,” he said. Burnham won one concession in sentencing: He will be allowed to have $36,000 that the college owes him for unused vacation days applied to the restitution of $44,497 that he was ordered to pay.

November 30, 2012

Virginia Commonwealth University held a town hall meeting Thursday amid student concerns that the women's volleyball coach was fired for being gay, NBC 12 News reported. Students noted that the coach is popular, that the last season was a success and that reasons offered by the university for his ouster have been vague. Further, critics have noted that there have been two personnel changes in the athletic department since a new athletic director arrived -- the coach's dismissal and the demotion of another gay employee. University officials have denied wrongdoing, but said that they are investigating the allegations.

 

November 30, 2012

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote today on the STEM Jobs Act, a Republican-backed bill that would create up to 55,000 new visas for foreign graduates of American universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The bill would also eliminate the diversity visa lottery, which allocates spots to immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

This is a second attempt: a motion to suspend House rules in order to consider the STEM Jobs Act failed 257-158 in September. (Such a motion requires a two-thirds majority.) Although there is bipartisan support for increasing the number of visas available to foreign scientists who have been educated at U.S. universities, Democrats have opposed eliminating diversity visas. The White House announced its opposition to the Stem Jobs Act earlier this week. NAFSA: The Association of International Educators is also opposed to passage of the bill, which, the association says, "perpetuates a divisive, us-versus-them approach to immigration reform.”

“NAFSA supports the goal of creating a direct path to green cards for graduates of U.S. institutions of higher education, including but not limited to the STEM fields. Talented, innovative people are found in all fields, and all who are prepared to become productive members of our society and to contribute to our economy should be welcome. We do not support creating a new path for international students by eliminating another immigration program,” the association said in a statement on Thursday.

November 30, 2012

Leila Ahmed, the Victor S. Thomas professor of divinity at Harvard University, has been named winner of the 2013 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion for A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence from the Middle East to America, published last year by Yale University Press. The award, worth $100,000, is sponsored by the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the University of Louisville.

 

November 30, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Diana Deutsch of the University of California at San Diego discusses the genetic and cultural factors that give some people perfect pitch. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

November 30, 2012

Dartmouth College on Thursday named Philip J. Hanlon as its next president. Hanlon, a Dartmouth alumnus, is currently provost and professor of mathematics at the University of Michigan.

November 30, 2012

Representative George Miller, a California Democrat and the senior member of his party on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, has requested information from private student lenders about how they interact with borrowers, and has also asked the Government Accountability Office to examine problems with federal loan servicers. Republicans on the committee have also expressed concern about servicing problems in the past. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a report critical of some private lending practices in July.

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