Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, December 10, 2010 - 3:00am

An Education Department report issued Thursday faulted Virginia Tech for failing to notify the campus of danger after the first shootings in 2007 on an April day that left 32 dead. The report says that the university should have notified the campus as soon as the first reports came in, and that failure to do so violated federal requirements. The university issued a statement strongly objecting to the report, saying that Virginia Tech officials acted on the best available information and well within federal reporting requirements.

Friday, December 10, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Phoenix on Thursday published its third annual report on the academic outcomes of its students. Inside Higher Ed articles on earlier iterations of the report examined the strengths and flaws of the university's approach; this year's report shows little change in the institution's graduation rates, and compares its students' performance on tests of information literacy and academic proficiency to students at peer institutions. Phoenix's report remains unusual, in both for-profit and traditional higher education, for its straightforwardness and high visibility.

Friday, December 10, 2010 - 3:00am

Sister Marie E. Thornton, a nun who formerly was the top financial officer at Iona College, has been charged with embezzling $1.2 million from the college by allegedly turning in false invoices and submitting credit card bills for personal expenses, The Journal News reported. She was known on campus as "Sister Susie" and surrendered to authorities Thursday. The New York Post is having a field day with the story (its headline is "Take the $$ & nun" and lead sentence is "Talk about a really bad habit.") The newspaper also noted that she entered a plea of not guilty and that her lawyer said: "We think the case will be resolved in a manner fair to all the parties involved."

Thursday, December 9, 2010 - 3:00am

Students and a professor at the University of Maine, in Orono, blocked a students from butchering and skinning a live rabbit Saturday during a class on film-making, The Bangor Daily News reported. Students intervened after the student who planned to use the rabbit in an unexpected way walked to the front of the class with a rabbit in a box. "When he whipped out the knife, people started screaming, crying, running out of the room,” said another student. The university is investigating the incident. Dane Bolding, the student involved, explained his action this way: "I feel like documentary films often put a lot in front of us. I guess that my intention was to really put something in front of the class."

Thursday, December 9, 2010 - 3:00am

Sen. Tom Harkin has identified the next target in his campaign to draw attention to perceived abuses in for-profit higher education: the institutions' large and growing share of financial aid for military service members and veterans. The Iowa Democrat, who has held a series of highly critical hearings this year and threatened a legislative crackdown against the institutions, called a news conference for today at which he plans to release the latest in a string of reports on the sector. An article published Wednesday night in The New York Times cites data showing that for-profit colleges are receiving a disproportionate share of money from the Post-9/11 GI Bill and quotes several former officials at career colleges describing the aggressive tactics they used to enroll veterans -- even those they were not confident could succeed academically. The article quotes Harkin saying that the institutions see veterans as a "cash cow" and that “[i]t is both a rip off of the taxpayer and a slap in the face to the people who have risked their lives for our country."

Thursday, December 9, 2010 - 3:00am

Raymond Taylor, a part-time instructor at Kennesaw State University, was arrested Monday after students reported that he had exposed himself in class, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Taylor was charged with public indecency, and was released from jail Tuesday after posting $5,000 bond. He declined to discuss the situation. Ken Harmon, interim provost at the university, said, "He will not be teaching again at KSU."

Thursday, December 9, 2010 - 3:00am

Robert Manning, chair of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees, resigned from the board Wednesday amid reports that he was frustrated with what he viewed as political interference by Gov. Deval Patrick, who appointed him, The Boston Globe reported. The governor recently expressed concerns about the search for a new system president; soon afterward, a leading candidate for the position, Martin T. Meehan, chancellor of the UMass campus at Lowell, withdrew from consideration.

Thursday, December 9, 2010 - 3:00am

A federal judge on Wednesday rejected the latest in a series of lawsuits challenging the California referendum that bars public colleges and universities from considering race or ethnicity in admissions decisions, the Associated Press reported. The suit argued that the ban has led to declines in the enrollments of black and Latino students, but the judge noted that similar legal challenges already have been rejected.

Thursday, December 9, 2010 - 3:00am

Four former athletes at the University of Toledo will plead guilty to charges related to fixing the outcome of football and men's basketball games, The Toledo Blade reported. The allegations concern a two-year period starting in December 2004.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - 3:00am

Five Columbia University students were arrested Tuesday on charges of selling drugs to fellow students, and a prosecutor said that one of the students said he was using some of the profits to pay for his tuition, Bloomberg reported.

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