The College of Visual Arts, in Minnesota, has announced that it will close at the end of the academic year. Enrollment has dropped 21 percent in the last year. A statement from Ann Ledy, president of the college, said: "Although CVA’s tuition is one of the lowest in the state, students have found it more and more difficult to pay their way. With declining federal and state financial aid support, and the challenges surrounding private loans, students cannot afford the college of their dreams."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Days after the other public institutions in the state announced expanded initiatives to incorporate massive open online courses into their curriculums, leaders of the University of California said they would soon bolster their own efforts to use digital courses to expand student access in a more cost-effective way, the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press reported. Speaking at a Board of Regents meeting at which officials of the MOOC providers Coursera, Udacity and edX made presentations and regents discussed a position paper on online learning, President Mark G. Yudof said the university had "hit a wall with regard to traditional instructional methods," and suggested that online learning was largely the way way out. Yudof said the university would soon be announcing several expansions of its fledgling campaign to expand online learning, which has faced significant pushback from some faculty members. He vowed that the new efforts would be of high quality and not lead to layoffs of instructors.
With great fanfare and big names in the student learning world behind it, the Lumina Foundation two years ago unveiled its Degree Qualifications Profile with the hope that it would prod faculty members and college leaders to better define and drive their students to show what they should know and be able to do at various degree levels. Despite experimentation on scores of campuses and by accreditors and others, the profile's impact has been muted, and in a new paper released today by the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, two of the crafters of the profile, Peter Ewell and Carol Geary Schneider, seek to give faculty members and administrators reasons (and tools) to embrace its use.
Both Ewell's paper, which is the core of the document, and Schneider's afterword, subtly concede that the degree profile has not been fully accepted or understood. Ewell offers a "tasting menu" of practical ways that faculty members and institutions can develop "the needed assignments, examination questions, and projects that enable the collection of meaningful evidence of student mastery," the profile's underlying goal. Contrary to the widely assumed view (from some faculty critics) that the profile is designed to lead to a standardized, reductionist way of capturing student learning, Ewell writes, "engaging assessment in the context of the DQP requires faculty to be much more systematic and intentional than is currently the case at most colleges and universities."
Schneider more pointedly seeks to understand and explain why the degree profile "faces very real challenges" on campuses, which she attributes largely to faculty fears about standardization and the fragmented way (in departments, programs, etc.) learning is delivered on many campuses. The profile, she writes, "is a bold effort to help higher education move beyond credit hours to competency and beyond the fragmented learning too many students experience to intentionally preparing students to integrate and apply their learning to unscripted problems and responsibilities."
The University of Amsterdam held its annual faculty party last week, and many who attended wish they hadn't. The Associated Press reported that apparent food poisoning left 230 guests sickened, many of them violently ill with stomach ailments.
Rasmussen College, a midsized for-profit institution with roots in the Midwest, this week announced a tuition cut that averages 12 percent across the institution. Some students will see a 24 percent tuition reduction, the college said. Rasmussen is also locking in tuition rates for continuously enrolled students. The college has joined several other for-profits that are cutting their prices, freezing tuition rates and offering scholarships amid broad enrollment declines across the sector. Rasmussen said it was able to cut prices by having reduced overall operating expenses.
Creighton University must defend itself against a former medical student's charges that the university did not provide him with the accommodations he needed for his hearing disability to benefit equally from his education, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday. In its decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit found that Michael Argenyi asked Creighton's medical school for several accommodations to deal with his hearing impairment, including Communication Access Real-time Transcription (CART), which transcribes spoken words into computer text. The university denied most of the requests because they differed and had not been made directly by a doctor, according to the court. (Argenyi took out more than $120,000 in loans to pay for the accommodations himself for two years.)
In ruling for Argenyi, and overturning a lower court's decision, the Eighth Circuit court said he had provided enough evidence to suggest that "he was unable to follow lectures and classroom dialogue or successfully communicate with clinical patients" without the accommodations, and that "a reasonable factfinder could determine that Argenyi was denied an opportunity to benefit from medical school equal to that of his nondisabled classmates."
Authorities on Tuesday charged Roger Springfield -- who until his recent firing was media director for Syracuse University's athletics department -- with illegally making videos of male athletes leaving the shower room, The Syracuse Post-Standard reported. Authorities said that the recordings were made -- over a period of at least 10 years -- by having a camera pointed at the waist levels of football, lacrosse and soccer players and that the red light indicating that the camera was in use was covered up. Syracuse fired Springfield in December as the investigation started. Officials have identified 108 athletes who were filmed, and they are being contacted and offered support. Springfield has been charged with four felony counts of second-degree unlawful surveillance. In court on Tuesday, Springfield entered a plea of not guilty. His lawyer said after the hearing that the athletes could not have expected privacy in a locker room, but prosecutors said that their case does not involve any expectations of privacy.
A "transdenominational" rabbinical school in California has named an Orthodox Jewish woman as its president, making her the first Orthodox woman to lead a Jewish seminary. Tamar Frankiel, who holds a Ph.D. in the history of religions, will lead the Academy for Jewish Religion, California. Since Orthodox Jews do not ordain women, Frankiel is not a rabbi herself. The rabbinical school, part of the interdenominational Claremont Lincoln University, ordains rabbis for Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal and nondenominational synagogues, but Orthodox Jews do not accept its ordination. (The university does include Orthodox students and professors.)
The Senate of Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been considering and is expected to vote for a proposal to allow doctoral theses to be submitted in English, Haaretz reported. While it is currently possible to obtain special permission to submit a thesis in English, the requirement is that they be submitted in Hebrew. David Aviner, a professor who is head of the Authority for Research Students in the Experimental Sciences, said the rule change reflects the need to use English because one or more committee members come from outside Israel. Further, he noted the issue of disseminating findings. "If the doctorates were written in Hebrew, two people in the hallway would read it instead of hundreds of colleagues among research groups overseas," he said.
The president of Israel's Hebrew Language Academy, Moshe Bar-Asher, sent a letter of protest to Senate members. "There's a new version of the rules, saying 'Doctorates are to be submitted in Hebrew or English,' and thus this dignified institution ... announces that the status of Hebrew has been devalued," he wrote. "In the end, studying in English will outweigh everything else, and this process will result in the teaching of English in elementary and high schools."