Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 7, 2012

A Pennsylvania State University trustee plans to appeal the severe punishment the National Collegiate Athletic Association imposed on the institution in the wake of its child sex abuse scandal, questioning whether the NCAA provided the university with due process and even whether Penn State's president had the authority to sign off on the penalties without getting approval from the university's full board, the Associated Press reported. The NCAA has asserted that it had clearance to impose the penalties on Penn State outside its normal enforcement and infractions process because of the outside investigation Penn State ordered and because Penn State consented to the penalties. But recent news reports have indicated that the board never formally approved Louis Freeh's external report and that many trustees were kept in the dark about the negotiations with the NCAA.

August 7, 2012

Fund raisers for schools, colleges and universities project that final numbers from the 2011-12 year will show a 4.9 percent gain in contributions, while 2012-13 will show a 5.9 percent gain, according to a survey by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. In terms of projections for next year, public four-year institutions are projecting gains of 6.5 percent, while private four-year institutions and community colleges are both projecting gains of 6.1 percent. Private schools are projecting an increase of only 5.1 percent.

August 7, 2012

A former law student at the University of Virginia has pleaded guilty to breaking into the registrar's office in December to steal a request for his transcript, The Daily Progress reported. The man (at the time a student) had a summer internship offer, but had been told that the law firm would confirm what he had said about his grades with a transcript request. The student had reported a false grade-point average. The break-in, according to court documents, was not spur of the moment, but followed a period in which the student watched the registrar's office in person and with a camera to try to determine when the transcript request would arrive and how he would obtain it.

 

August 7, 2012

Four years after investors stepped in to stave off the death of Myers University, which has educated adults in Cleveland since the 1850s, the institution -- now called Chancellor University -- once again faces an existential threat, this time at the hands of its regional accreditor. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools voted in late June to put Chancellor on "show cause" status, meaning that the institution will be shut down if its officials cannot persuade the accreditor within a year that it has ameliorated the agency's concerns, which relate to weak finances, conflicts of interest and poor student retention.

It has been a bumpy few years for the institution since 2008, when the Higher Learning Commission granted permission for Myers' buyers (led by the high-profile investor Michael Clifford) to transform it into Chancellor. Clifford had grand plans, including the naming of the institution's management school for Jack Welch, the former head of General Electric. (The management school has since been sold to another for-profit institution, Strayer University.) But it wasn't long before the institution was back in turmoil; in February 2010, the Higher Learning Commission gave it a show cause order, but the commission concluded by February 2011 that the institution had addressed its concerns. But quarterly reports filed by the institution triggered new concerns last February, leading to the new show cause order.

Chancellor University officials told Crain's Cleveland Business that the institution would get through the current crisis as it did two years ago. “Every member of the leadership team and the board of trustees would swear in a court of law, on the Bible and the U.S. Constitution that this institution is significantly better than it was when it got off show-cause” last time, President Robert Daugherty told the newspaper.
 

August 6, 2012

The proportion of academic research involving more than one institution is going up, according to an analysis by the National Science Foundation. The NSF looked at the percentage of academic R&D funding that goes to "pass through" payments to a second institution. The figure is now 7 percent, up from 5 percent in 2000.

 

August 6, 2012

After years of litigation, Fisk University has finalized a deal to sell a half share in its renowned art collection to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, The Tennessean reported. Fisk will receive $74 million to give the museum the right to display the art for two-year periods, rotating with periods in which the art will reside at Fisk. Many in the art world have criticized Fisk for selling the collection, which was donated by Georgia O'Keeffe in 1949, with a request that it never be sold. Fisk, a financially troubled historically black college, has said that it needs the money to stabilize its budget.

 

August 6, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Ben Ellis of Washington State University reveals research indicating that the Yellowstone super volcano may have erupted more frequently than previously thought. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 6, 2012

The U.S. House of Representative last week passed legislation that would bar anyone outside the U.S. from receiving a student visa to enroll at an unaccredited institution. The measure provides an exemption if the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has certified a new institution that has not yet obtained accreditation from an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The legislation was prompted by recent scandals involving institutions in California that have attracted foreign students without accreditation.

August 6, 2012

The president and board chairman at Pennsylvania State University agreed to accept an unprecedented set of penalties imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association because the NCAA's leaders insisted that the association was poised to shut down the football program for several years, ESPN reported. The article provides more details than have previously been reported on the secretive negotiations that unfolded between the NCAA's president, Mark Emmert, and a small set of institutional leaders at Penn State.

According to ESPN, Emmert on several occasions told Rodney Erickson, Penn State's president, that most members of the NCAA's Division I Board of Directors favored barring the Nittany Lion football team from competing for four years. The article describes efforts by Penn State representatives -- without the knowledge of most of the university's trustees -- to persuade the NCAA to do otherwise, because they believed shuttering the program for that long would be too devastating. The article outlines the concerns of some Penn State officials (and other observers) that Emmert and the NCAA had overstepped their bounds by eliciting a remarkably punitive set of penalties by threatening an even tougher one.

The article quotes Gene Marsh, a lawyer and former NCAA official who represented Penn State, as saying: "In federal bankruptcy court, there is a concept of a cram-down -- a judge tells creditors, 'Here's the deal, this is all you are going to get, a few pennies on the dollar, and you should be happy with that.' You know, take it or leave it, because you don't really have any choice.... [T]his was the NCAA equivalent of a cram-down."

August 3, 2012

Jerry Wang, the CEO of Herguan University, a for-profit California institution, has been indicted on 15 counts of visa fraud, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The charges relate to what prosecutors term a conspiracy to attract foreign students to the university by helping them obtain visas, sometimes fraudulently. Most of the university's 450 students are from India. Federal authorities have started the process of revoking the university's right to certify foreign students as one step in the process of obtaining student visas.

 

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