Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, November 12, 2010 - 3:00am

Alexander Kemos, who resigned as senior vice president of Texas A&M University after reports that he lied on his résumé, has admitted doing so, pleading guilty this week to a misdemeanor charge of using a fraudulent or fictitious degree, the Associated Press reported. He has been fined $2,000. Kemos falsely claimed to have had an advanced degree from Tufts University and to have been a Navy SEAL.

Friday, November 12, 2010 - 3:00am

The majority of individuals in leadership positions of big-time college athletics programs and conferences remain white and male, according to a new study by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. For example, all 11 conference commissioners in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association are white men. In addition, there are only 14 “athletic directors of color” in the FBS, which has 118 member institutions. Still, the study did identify some signs of progress: "a record-high 15 head coaches of color led FBS teams at the start of the 2010 college football season."

Friday, November 12, 2010 - 3:00am

The Community College League of California wants the state’s two-year institutions to award one million more certificates and degrees by 2020. The group of community college presidents says this ambitious pledge -- which it plans to roll out next week with a series of recommendations on how to get there -- constitutes California’s share of President Obama’s goal of producing an additional five million community college graduates in the coming decade. To reach the statewide benchmark, the group says each of the state’s 112 community colleges will need to boost its average annual completions from 1,200 to 3,500.

Friday, November 12, 2010 - 3:00am

Laine Tadlock lost her job as director of an education program at Benedictine University because a local paper ran an announcement of her wedding to a woman, The State Journal-Register reported. Tadlock maintains that the Roman Catholic institution fired her, but university officials say that while they determined that she could not stay in her job, they offered her another one, which she declined. She maintains she wasn't qualified for the other job, but the university says that this means she resigned and was not fired. Tadlock was married in Iowa, which fully recognizes gay marriage. The university -- which has received backing from Catholic officials in the area -- said that it knew of her sexual orientation for some time, but that it could not employ her in her position after her wedding announcement noted her place of employment.

Friday, November 12, 2010 - 3:00am

Maclean's is facing considerable criticism for an article suggesting that some top (white) Canadian students are avoiding certain universities for fear that they are "too Asian." The article relies on quotations from anonymous white students saying things like: "The only people from our school who went to U of T were Asian. All the white kids go to Queen’s, Western and McGill." (U of T refers to the University of Toronto, by any measure a top Canadian university.) The article also features some quotes from Asian students, who report on experiences such as this one at the University of British Columbia: “At graduation a Canadian -- i.e. ‘white’ -- mother told me that I’m the reason her son didn’t get a space in university and that all the immigrants in the country are taking up university spots,"

The article suggests that "the dilemma is this: Canadian institutions operate as pure meritocracies when it comes to admissions, and admirably so. Privately, however, many in the education community worry that universities risk becoming too skewed one way, changing campus life -- a debate that’s been more or less out in the open in the U.S. for years but remains muted here. And that puts Canadian universities in a quandary. If they openly address the issue of race they expose themselves to criticisms that they are profiling and committing an injustice. If they don’t, Canada’s universities, far from the cultural mosaics they’re supposed to be -- oases of dialogue, mutual understanding and diversity -- risk becoming places of many solitudes, deserts of non-communication. It’s a tough question to have to think about."

Many reader comments -- and some outside critics -- say that the article is promoting racist stereotypes, while others say that the article is bringing attention to an issue that needs public discussion. The (New York City-based) blog Jezebel ran a commentary on the article with the headline: "Yes, Calling a School 'Too Asian' Is Racist."

Thursday, November 11, 2010 - 3:00am

Keiser University and Florida State College at Jacksonville agreed late Tuesday to dismiss the lawsuit that the for-profit institution filed in October against the community college and two of its administrators. Fort Lauderdale-based Keiser had alleged that Steven Wallace, the college's president, and Susan Lehr, its vice president for government relations, had “disseminated false information about proprietary schools, including Keiser, by working through advocacy groups and 'short sellers' who profit when the price of a publicly traded stock declines in value." Keiser's charges were based largely on quotes attributed to the administrators in news articles about for-profit colleges and on e-mail messages obtained under Florida's public records law. Florida State College last week filed motions to dismiss the suit, contending it had no merit and that the college would "not be intimidated into silence" regarding its support for the U.S. Department of Education's efforts to regulate the for-profit sector.

In a statement Wednesday, the two institutions said that they had "agreed to put their differences behind them" and that they "hold each other in high esteem." The agreement also makes clear that "FSCJ denies the allegations in the lawsuit and never intended to disparage Keiser University or its principals or to cause harm to the institution, its principals or its students." Arthur Keiser, chancellor and CEO of the privately held university, is chairman of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities' Board of Directors and has been a major political donor, active in guiding lobbying efforts.

Thursday, November 11, 2010 - 3:00am

A Canadian study concludes that immigrant students and what it calls "visible minorities" are less likely than are other students to drop out in their first or second year of college -- a finding that the researchers attribute to the fact that many white students in Canada are in college because of parental pressure. The study, by the Measuring the Effectiveness of Student Aid (MESA) Project, finds that among low-income students at Canada's colleges, 17.1 percent of "visible minority immigrants" drop out in the first or second year, compared to 25.5 percent for other students. At the country's universities, the dropout rates are 3.8 percent for immigrant minority students, and 9.6 percent for others. "Parental expectations for completing PSE are much greater for these students, and this could be driving the low dropout rates we observe," says the lead author, Ross Finnie of the University of Ottawa.

Thursday, November 11, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday that it had reached a settlement to end its investigation into alleged discrimination and harassment at the University of South Carolina. Under the agreement, which the department said followed an inquiry prompted by an allegation of race discrimination on the campus, the university agreed to alter its policies for responding to and reviewing such charges.

Thursday, November 11, 2010 - 3:00am

The chairmen of an Obama administration panel charged with finding a viable path forward for the nation's economy have proposed a series of massive spending cuts and tax code changes -- and while their proposal suggests some changes to which many in higher education would object, it would treat colleges and students comparatively kindly. The proposal by the co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, the panel asked to propose economic restructuring that would end the U.S.'s massive deficit, includes among the $100 billion in "illustrative" domestic spending cuts it identifies the elimination of the in-school subsidy for student loans, funds that the federal government pays to colleges to administer the campus-based student loan programs, and all Congressional earmarks, including the many awarded to colleges for research and transportation projects. But at a more global level, the co-chairs' plan -- while recognizing the need to slash "inefficient" federal spending -- calls for generally protecting education and "high value" research that promote economic development.

Thursday, November 11, 2010 - 3:00am

Master's-level four-year colleges may cost states less to educate students in their first two years than do community colleges, a new study by Cornell University's Higher Education Research Institute suggests. The study, by Richard M. Romano of Broome Community College and Yenni M. Djajalaksana of the University of South Florida, shows that the cost per full-time-equivalent student and the per-student subsidy provided by states are lower at the master's-level four-year institutions than at two-year institutions. The study includes various cautions, however, about the numerous limitations in the data.

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