Higher Education Quick Takes
Holden Thorp, the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says that in his last year in the position, major reforms will be announced for athletics at the institution, placing "academics first," The News & Observer reported. Thorp, after facing numerous scandals involving athletic programs, recently announced plans to step down. And he told the newspaper that one reason he did so was that the changes ahead would be so difficult. He said that admissions standards for athletes would be toughened, and that the number of exceptions to admissions standards would be reduced. In the last five years, 53 football players at UNC have been admitted under such exceptions.
Almost one in five households owed student loan debt in 2010, according to a new analysis from the Pew Research Center. The 19 percent total represents a significant increase from the level just three years prior (and before the start of the recession), when the figure was 15 percent. As recently as 1989, the figure was only 9 percent. Among households headed by someone younger than 35 in 2010, the rate was 40 percent.
The University of Notre Dame has invited President Obama and also Mitt Romney to speak on campus during the presidential election campaign. The university's announcement of the invitation noted that Notre Dame has a tradition of inviting presidential candidates to appear, and that many have done so. The university also has a tradition of inviting presidents to deliver commencement addresses, and when Obama did so in 2009, there was a huge uproar from some Roman Catholic and anti-abortion organizations that objected to such an honor going to someone who supports abortion rights. An official of the Pro-Life Action League told The Indianapolis Star that the organization didn't object this time, since Romney also received an invitation. The Cardinal Newman Society is criticizing the new Obama invitation -- and also expressing concerns about a possible Romney appearance, noting that Romney has expressed support for embryonic stem cell research.
Students at the University of California at Irvine have recaptured the world record for the largest dodgeball game, The Los Angeles Times reported. More than 6,000 players participated to set the record.
An academic at the University of New England, in Australia, has lost his job over a poem he wrote to offer sympathy to a colleague who lost his job, The Australian reported. The poem referred to senior officials in the music program by their instruments, calling them names such as Oboe, Horn and Organ. The university considered the poem a work "calculated to bring senior officers of the university into disrepute." After various letters from lawyers, the poem is no longer online, nor is its author working at the university.
Inside Higher Ed received a call Tuesday from someone claiming to be the site’s owner. The caller, Kevin, who declined to give his last name, said the site was not all that lucrative and with the added attention garnered last week, he decided to take it down. He added that he does not think sites like We Take Your Class are a problem; the problem, he believes, is that education is structured in a way that makes it easy to cheat.
The National Science Board added its voice Tuesday to the chorus of groups and agencies expressing concern about the future of public research universities. Its report, Diminishing Funding and Rising Expectations: Trends and Challenges for Public Research Universities, argues that declines in state funding, which it documents, "threaten the ability of major public research universities to educate new scientists and engineers, recruit and retain the best faculty and students, and continue performing top-quality research."
Colorado Technical University improperly awarded financial aid dollars to dozens of students, the U.S. Education Department's inspector general said in an audit this month. The audit, whose findings were challenged by the for-profit college, a unit of Career Education Corp., recommended that the university be required to reimburse the government for $173,000 in improper payments and to examine the records of thousands of other students in its CTU Online unit to see if similar improprieties occurred.