Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, December 5, 2011 - 4:20am

The Iowa Board of Regents will consider proposed rules this week that would bar public universities going forward from naming centers or institutes after public officials who are still in office, The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported. The proposal is a response to criticism of the board's decision in April to name a center at Iowa State University the Harkin Institute for Public Policy, honoring U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat. Many Republicans criticized the decision.


Monday, December 5, 2011 - 3:00am

Among the items that went viral on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere this weekend was a professor's obituary, written with love by his son. Robert Spiegel taught Russian literature for decades at Central Connecticut State University. The mix of serious and humorous sentiments in his obituary prompted many to share it. Here's an excerpt: "Over the course of 43 years of teaching, he introduced countless neophytes to the wonders of the well-written word, passionately teaching the likes of Dostoyevsky, Vonnegut, Gogol, Gibson and virtually everyone in between. The final, and an immensely popular course he taught, was that of the literature of baseball. This was thinly veiled therapy to alleviate the trauma he sustained from coaching arguably the worst little league team in recorded (or unrecorded) history and from the sufferings he endured from 40 years as a devout Mets fan." The full obituary is here, and an Associated Press article about the obituary may be found here.

Monday, December 5, 2011 - 3:00am

In the Chicago area, relatively few reports of sexual assault on campuses are prosecuted, The Chicago Tribune reported. The newspaper examined records from 16 local colleges and found that police investigated 109 reported sex crimes since fall 2005. Those investigations led to only 12 arrests and 5 convictions. While prosecutors blame lack of evidence for hindering arrests in some cases, some victims and some campus officials believe that solid cases were not taken seriously enough.


Monday, December 5, 2011 - 3:00am

A judge in Washington State ruled Friday that Seattle Central Community College may evict Occupy movement protesters who have been camping at the college for more than a month, The Seattle Times reported. The college recently adopted a "no camping" rule that the judge upheld. The Occupy Seattle encampment is not primarily focused on the college, but on general issues of economic inequality. College officials adopted the rule after saying that they were facing clean-up charges and security issues -- in part because of non-students attracted to the encampment. The article reported that the college may not have to enforce its new rule because the protesters appear to be moving to an abandoned warehouse elsewhere.

Monday, December 5, 2011 - 3:00am

Who is headed to the White House today for the meeting with President Obama on college costs and productivity?

According to a representative of a higher education association, the group will include the leaders of three state university systems: Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York; Francisco Cigarroa, chancellor of the University of Texas System; and William E. (Brit) Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. Three more are drawn from public universities: Holden Thorp, chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland at Baltimore County; and F. King Alexander, president of California State University at Long Beach. One is from a community college: Thomas Snyder, president of Ivy Tech Community College, the Indiana community college system.

And leaders of three very different private nonprofit colleges round out the list of presidents: Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University; Larry Shinn, president of Berea College; and Robert Mendenhall, president of Western Governors University.

Jane Wellman, the founder and executive director of the Delta Project on Postsecondary Costs, Productivity and Accountability, is also attending, as is Jamie Merisotis, president of the Lumina Foundation. Wellman and Merisotis testified Wednesday at a House of Representatives subcommittee hearing on rising college prices. 

Monday, December 5, 2011 - 3:00am

Clayton Spencer -- a key figure in higher education policy setting -- was named Sunday as the next president of Bates College. Spencer is currently vice president for policy at Harvard University, and previously served as associate vice president for higher education policy there. From 1993 to 1997, she was the education counsel on the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, where she worked for the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

Spencer takes over as the president of a private liberal arts college at a time of increased national scrutiny of college costs -- including a White House meeting today. At a press briefing Sunday, she said that she anticipated working to raise more money for financial aid in part because she doesn't think colleges like Bates are going to become less expensive. As long as liberal arts colleges focus on providing a high quality education, with top faculty members, small classes and a full residential experience, she said, "I don't see a way to make that fundamentally, structurally less expensive." But she said that increasing financial aid is essential, given that the sticker prices at institutions like Bates (total costs exceed $55,000) would otherwise seem too high to many prospective students and families.


Monday, December 5, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Erik Bleich of Middlebury College contrasts how Americans and Europeans value and protect freedom of speech. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, December 5, 2011 - 4:18am

An article in The Syracuse Post-Standard reviews many of the questions circulating about Syracuse University's inquiries into allegations that Bernie Fine, formerly an assistant basketball coach at the university, molested boys. The story focuses on whether trustees should have been informed of the allegations in 2005 (when the university says it was unable to corroborate them), and whether the university should have used a law firm (rather than professionals trained in sexual abuse) to look into the allegations.


Friday, December 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Inadequate and diluted resources at the state regulatory level have led to lax oversight of for-profit colleges, according to a new report from the National Consumer Law Center, and those regulatory gaps have contributed to fraud and other problems. The Boston-based consumer advocacy group found that regulators are often understaffed, particularly in Delaware, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Washington and Wyoming. The report also claims state for-profit supervisory boards often include industry representatives, sometimes even a majority hailing from for-profits, which is a conflict of interest that gives the industry "undue influence."

Friday, December 2, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jill Lany of the University of Notre Dame explains the complex nature of an infant's ability to learn language. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.



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