The U.S. Department of Justice has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit in which for-profit colleges challenged the legality of three rules the Education Department has promulgated to tighten regulation of federal student aid. The lawsuit, filed in January by the Association for Private Sector Colleges and Universities, asks the courts to invalidate three of the dozen-plus new rules that the Education Department issued in October; the disputed regulations relate to state authorization of colleges, incentive compensation for recruiters, and misrepresentation of colleges' programs and results. In their brief asking for dismissal of the lawsuit, government lawyers argued that the Education Department was well within its legal authority under the Higher Education Act in promulgating all three rules. The New America Foundation's Higher Ed Watch blog first reported the government's response.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Kent State University, facing deep budget cuts, has limited enrollments in American Sign Language courses to those students who need the language for their majors or minors, The Ravenna Record Courier reported. Students say that the limits are discriminatory because non-majors are still permitted in introductory Spanish and other languages. But officials say that sections of those languages have been cut as well, and that there is no money for more ASL sections.
A University of Iowa investigation has concluded that a “strenuous squat lifting workout” was the primary cause of 13 Hawkeye football players being hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis, a rare muscle disorder, in January. Findings from the investigation were presented by President Sally Mason at a Board of Regents meeting Wednesday; the report further noted that the hospitalized football players “were in no way responsible for their own injuries,” “did nothing wrong” and “did not take banned substances or engage in other risky behaviors.” The investigation also found that coaches were neither “negligent” nor “reckless” when they “planned, conducted, or supervised the strenuous workouts” that resulted in the hospitalization of the 13 players and that “unforeseen developments [occurred] without the fault of anyone involved.”
At a news conference Wednesday, Coach Kirk Ferentz said: “We have learned a little bit more about [rhabdomyolysis]. Quite frankly, I don't think anybody in this building knew much about it prior to this occurrence. We've learned a little bit more about that, but I still think there's a lot to be learned from what I know. One thing about our sports medicine department, I think they'll take this as an opportunity to learn more. The one thing we have learned, we won't do that exercise again, pretty clear at this point, until we know more.”
Ohio University's president has turned down a journalism professor's appeal of an ethics finding against him, even though a Faculty Senate committee found "troubling irregularities" in the work of a campus committee that initially reported the ethics finding. The decision by President Roderick McDavis is the latest development in the convoluted case of Bill Reader, with whom McDavis sided last year in a bitter dispute over Reader's tenure case. That battle spawned an ethics inquiry into whether Reader engaged in nonviolent threats of retaliation following the tenure vote, and the communications college's ethics panel recommended that he be reprimanded. Last month, though, the Faculty Senate's Professional Relations Committee voted 6-0, with one abstention, to dismiss the ethics violations against Reader, citing procedural problems in the ethics panel's work. In a terse statement Monday, McDavis rejected the faculty panel's conclusions and backed the ethics committee's findings.
Budget and other pressures are prompting legislators in several states to consider the normally unthinkable: merging or closing public campuses. Ten days after regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education voted to table a plan to close or merge four of its eight campuses, saying doing so would be too disruptive to students and communities, members of a Nevada legislative subcommittee directed the system to study the idea anew, the Associated Press reported. The lawmakers acted after higher education officials presented a list of possible budget cuts that did not approach the $162 million in reductions to the system's operating budget that Governor Brian Sandoval's fiscal plan would require, the wire service reported. In Maryland, meanwhile, a legislative panel directed the University System of Maryland to consider combining the system's flagship campus, the University of Maryland at College Park, with the University of Maryland at Baltimore, which houses several professional schools. System officials said they would study the idea, which they said might be a smart strategic decision but is not expected to save the system money.
Western Michigan University on Tuesday announced a $100 million gift -- its largest ever -- to create a new medical school. While the university is public, it plans to rely on private funds for the new medical school. The donor is anonymous.
The Maryland Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation to increase regulation of for-profit colleges, The Baltimore Business Journal reported. Among other things, the legislation would authorize the Maryland Higher Education Commission to create a fund, to be financed by all the for-profit colleges operating in the state, that would reimburse students enrolled at for-profit colleges that close or enter bankruptcy.
Canadian higher education leaders on Tuesday praised their federal government's budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, which, unlike those put forward by its counterparts in the United States and Britain, would significantly increase spending on higher education and research. The 2011 budget would spend tens of millions of new dollars to create research chairs and invest in brain research, and provide additional funds for student financial aid and study abroad. "[T]oday’s budgetary commitments to higher education are in line with a growing consensus among Canadians that Canada’s research universities play an integral role in advancing our economy and improving the social and economic well-being of all Canadians,” said Stephen Toope, president of the University of British Columbia. “These investments are all the more notable when we are seeing significant budgetary cuts to higher education sectors in other countries."