Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - 3:00am

Texas A&M University and Texas Wesleyan University announced Tuesday that the former would assume control of the latter's law school. Employees of the law school will all become Texas A&M employees, but Texas Wesleyan will continue to own the building in which, and land on which, the law school is located. The two institutions envision joint programs between the law school and Texas Wesleyan. A spokesman for Texas A&M said that the institution expected the law school to receive funds from the state along formulas used to support other public law schools.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - 3:00am

The war of words and battle of wills between Texas Southmost College and the University of Texas at Brownsville is continuing. The two institutions used to operate jointly, and now the college has said that it will not sell any real estate to the university. That prompted this statement by Francisco G. Cigarroa, president of the university system: "The UT System stated early in the transition team negotiations that leasing facilities is not in the best interest of UTB’s educational mission as it is not conducive for a prosperous and growing four-year university. The UT System’s priority remains to build a vibrant four-year university campus that one day can rival the best universities in the state. Doing so on borrowed land and with leased facilities does not allow UTB to appropriately advance its educational mission. Without access to land for expansion in Ft. Brown, the proposed ‘Educational Village’ would not be practical; therefore, the UT System will move quickly to evaluate alternative sites in Brownsville for future expansion of the main UTB campus and build the required infrastructure necessary to accommodate its students by Fall of 2015."


Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - 4:22am

California Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders have reached a deal that would bar public universities from receiving $125 million that could become available for them if voters approve a tax hike unless the universities freeze tuition, The Los Angeles Times reported. Lawmakers dislike planned tuition increases, and see the deal as another incentive for voters to pass the tax increases. But university officials are dubious, saying that they can't give up the tuition revenue, especially given that passage of the tax measure is uncertain.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - 4:26am

The board of Saint Paul's College, a historically black institution in Virginia that was stripped of accreditation last week by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, announced Monday that it is considering a range of options. The board formally announced that it is appealing the SACS decision. But Saint Paul's is also considering these options: seeking accreditation from another agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, forming new partnerships or a merger.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Three in four Americans believe higher education is a right for everyone, according to a poll released Monday by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Nearly half of Americans (46 percent) said that this was a belief they held strongly. Carnegie released the poll as part of this week's celebration of the sesquicentennial of the Morrill Act, which created the land-grant university system in the United States.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Gene Robinson of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reveals why not all honey bees are mindless drones without individual personality traits. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - 3:00am

The College of Saint Rose announced Monday that it will start a three-year test of ending the requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. College officials said that their studies indicated that high school grades in a college preparatory curriculum and extracurricular activities were the best predictors of success at Saint Rose.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Dmitry Livanov, Russia's new education minister, has unveiled controversial reforms for his country's universities. Chemistry World reported that the changes proposed include consolidating universities and ending the tradition of free tuition. Livanov and others argue that they need to change the universities to keep scientific talent, and the plan also calls for significant increases in faculty salaries. Many academics are criticizing the proposal, saying that it would make it more difficult for those in low-income, remote parts of the country to obtain a spot in a top program.


Monday, June 25, 2012 - 3:00am

Higher education groups have asked the federal agencies that support the education of military service members and veterans to clarify what they expect colleges to do to comply with President Obama's April executive order. In a letter to the secretaries of education, defense and veterans affairs, the American Council on Education and the National Association of College and University Businesss Officers, on behalf of 11 other groups, said they supported the goals of the administration's “Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses and Other Family Members.” But without significantly more clarity about the administration's goals, "it is far from evident how the Agencies will construe them and what the practical ramifications will be," the groups wrote.

The associations note that the veterans affairs agency is pressing colleges to commit to complying with the principles and the executive order. "Colleges and universities want to know that if they commit to achieve a standard, they will be able to meet that standard," they write. "The Principles embody goals that can be achieved only if institutions understand the government’s expectations."

Monday, June 25, 2012 - 3:00am

Rodney Erickson, president of Pennsylvania State University, issued a statement Friday, following the conviction of Jerry Sandusky on 45 of the 48 charges against him, reaching out to the child sex-abuse victims in the case. "The legal process has spoken and we have tremendous respect for the men who came forward to tell their stories publicly. No verdict can undo the pain and suffering caused by Mr. Sandusky, but we do hope this judgment helps the victims and their families along their path to healing," said Erickson.

His statement also acknowledged that some of the victims plan to sue Penn State, and Erickson suggested that settlements are possible. "Now that the jury has spoken, the university wants to ... do its part to help victims continue their path forward. To that end, the university plans to invite victims of Mr. Sandusky’s abuse to participate in a program to facilitate the resolution of claims against the university arising out of Mr. Sandusky's conduct. The purpose of the program is simple – the university wants to provide a forum where the university can privately, expeditiously and fairly address the victims' concerns and compensate them for claims relating to the university. Counsel to the university plan to reach out to counsel to the victims of Mr. Sandusky’s abuse in the near future with additional details."

While the Sandusky trial is over (barring appeals), more fallout from the scandal is expected. Trials are pending for Tim Curley, the former athletics director, and Gary Schultz, a former vice president in charge of the campus police, on charges related to allegations that they didn't report child abuse by Sandusky.

The Philadelphia Inquirer also reported that the university has started "preparing trustees for the possibility of an indictment against former president Graham B. Spanier." Spanier has denied wrongdoing, and has been fighting with the university over access to e-mail records that he says he needs to adequately respond to various probes of the scandal.


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