Higher Education Quick Takes
A Louisiana judge has refused to block a study for the Louisiana Board of Regents on the idea of merging Southern University of New Orleans and the University of New Orleans, The Advocate reported. Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, has called for consideration of the merger -- an idea strongly opposed by advocates of the historically black Southern system. Some of those supporters charge that the lack of diversity on the Board of Regents makes the body unconstitutional -- an argument rejected by the judge.
A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that state immunity bars a national pharmacy association from suing the University System of Georgia for copyright violations. The ruling, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, came in a long-running legal fight in which the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy is seeking redress for the alleged misappropriation by a University of Georgia professor of material from the association's licensing examinations. While legal claims against the professor are still pending, the 11th Circuit panel concluded that the Board of Regents of the university system is immune from suit.
Lambuth University announced Thursday that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has denied an appeal of a decision to revoke its accreditation, The Jackson Sun reported. At the same time, however, the private university in Tennessee won a court injunction barring SACS from following through on its decision while a legal challenge is pending. The revocation of accreditation would mean that Lambuth students could no longer receive federal student aid. Lambuth has been suffering from serious financial difficulties for several years.
Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, and South Carolina's public college presidents have agreed on the factors that should go into a new funding formula for higher education, The Greenville News reported. Among the factors: graduation rates, the percentage of in-state students, roles in economic development, job placement and the enrollment of "underrepresented" students. The governor and the presidents still haven't defined "underrepresented" or the relative weight the factors would receive in the formula.
An Australian group has created UniLeaks, a WikiLeaks-styled website where people may leak documents about higher education. An explanation on the website states that it will accept and distribute "restricted or censored material of political, ethical, diplomatic or historical significance which is in some way connected to higher education, an agency or government body working in partnership with an institution, e.g., a university." The site adds, "We absolutely do not accept rumor, opinion, other kinds of first-hand accounts or material that is publicly available elsewhere."
The American College Health Association reinforced the importance of constantly developing cultural awareness and sensitivity among campus professionals, with the goal of having members be “responsive to the needs of a diverse and changing student population,” in a statement released Wednesday.
The Cultural Competency Statement -- in its first revision since its initial publication in July 2000 -- compels ACHA members to cultural inclusion, cultural respect, equality and equity, and includes a number of criteria that demonstrate cultural competency for individuals, institutions and the association. Vanessa Britto, chair of the revision task force, told Inside Higher Ed that given the shifts in student demographics, international enrollment and experiential learning, the ACHA felt it was time to update and clarify the statement. “It’s just a much, much more diverse and complex world that we live in,” she said. “You can’t have [the statement] be static; it has to be dynamic.” So the task force cleaned up the document, clarifying actions and definitions, removing outdated items and adding ones that arose during the last decade.
It states that culturally competent individuals “have a mixture of beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, experience, and skills that help them to establish trust and rapport in effective communication with others.” ACHA member institutions, the statement says, “should commit to the cultural competency of campus health professionals by implementing, strengthening, and supporting a variety of activities” that promote diversity and inclusivity throughout the campus. Finally, the association charges itself with promoting cultural competency through programming, individual leadership, advocacy and collaboration with other organizations.
Duke University and an insurance company (an affiliate of AIG) have settled a lawsuit over costs related to the lacrosse scandal, The News & Observer reported. Details of the settlement were not released, but the dispute between Duke and the company focused in part on confidential settlements the university reached with some lacrosse players and questions of whether the company had enough information to reimburse Duke.
For-profit college fever is spreading in the U.S. Senate. Yet another committee (the third, by our count) plans to hold a hearing examining possible malfeasance by higher education companies, with Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) announcing a March 2 hearing of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security, which he chairs. Carper said the hearing would examine the flow of money from the Defense Department's Tuition Assistance Program to current service members enrolled at for-profit colleges, and allegations in recent news reports that, as he put it, "some bad actors have taken advantage of our military personnel and have failed to deliver the quality of education they promise to our men and women in uniform." Unlike most of the Senate hearings about for-profit colleges in the last 18 months, this one will not occur in the hotbed of career college scrutiny: Senator Tom Harkin's Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. But Harkin will still play a role: the Iowa Democrat is scheduled to be a star witness.