Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 7, 2012

The University of Texas on Monday filed its brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in the affirmative action case that will be heard this fall. Texas has prevailed in lower courts, but faces a strong challenge and a potentially skeptical Supreme Court. The brief stresses that the university believes that having a diverse student body is an educational issue. Diversity, the brief says, "better prepares students to become the next generation of leaders in an increasingly diverse work force and society." But the brief also takes care to say that the university does not define diversity solely by race and ethnicity. "UT has a broad vision of diversity, which looks to a wide variety of individual characteristics — including an applicant’s culture; language; family; educational, geographic, and socioeconomic background; work, volunteer, or internship experiences; leadership experiences; special artistic or other talents, as well as race and ethnicity."

 

August 7, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Judyth Sassoon of the University of Bristol explains the discovery of a pliosaur fossil with signs of severe arthritis. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

August 7, 2012

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a United Nations agency, has ordered GoDaddy.com to take four university-branded Web domains out of the hands of a cyber-squatter who was allegedly using the sites to scam students out of cash. Mark "Omar" Quevillon, a resident of Cambridge, Mass., registered the domains Brandeis.me, Tufts.me, UVM.me and Babson.me in an alleged attempt to "sell" access to personalized apps to students, according to WIPO. But the websites have nothing to do with Babson College, the University of Vermont, and Tufts and Brandeis Universities. And so the universities jointly filed a complaint with WIPO, saying that Quevillon has been using their trademarked brands to confuse students and make a quick buck. Although WIPO is not a court, it is empowered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to resolve domain disputes and has the cooperation of domain registrants such as GoDaddy.com. Zick Rubin, a lawyer for the universities, said he does not know how much Quevillon is believed to have made from the scam. The phony websites are still live, but Rubin says GoDaddy.com has been instructed to take them down by Aug. 12 unless Quevillon fights the ruling.

August 7, 2012

A Pennsylvania State University trustee plans to appeal the severe punishment the National Collegiate Athletic Association imposed on the institution in the wake of its child sex abuse scandal, questioning whether the NCAA provided the university with due process and even whether Penn State's president had the authority to sign off on the penalties without getting approval from the university's full board, the Associated Press reported. The NCAA has asserted that it had clearance to impose the penalties on Penn State outside its normal enforcement and infractions process because of the outside investigation Penn State ordered and because Penn State consented to the penalties. But recent news reports have indicated that the board never formally approved Louis Freeh's external report and that many trustees were kept in the dark about the negotiations with the NCAA.

August 7, 2012

Fund raisers for schools, colleges and universities project that final numbers from the 2011-12 year will show a 4.9 percent gain in contributions, while 2012-13 will show a 5.9 percent gain, according to a survey by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. In terms of projections for next year, public four-year institutions are projecting gains of 6.5 percent, while private four-year institutions and community colleges are both projecting gains of 6.1 percent. Private schools are projecting an increase of only 5.1 percent.

August 7, 2012

A former law student at the University of Virginia has pleaded guilty to breaking into the registrar's office in December to steal a request for his transcript, The Daily Progress reported. The man (at the time a student) had a summer internship offer, but had been told that the law firm would confirm what he had said about his grades with a transcript request. The student had reported a false grade-point average. The break-in, according to court documents, was not spur of the moment, but followed a period in which the student watched the registrar's office in person and with a camera to try to determine when the transcript request would arrive and how he would obtain it.

 

August 7, 2012

Four years after investors stepped in to stave off the death of Myers University, which has educated adults in Cleveland since the 1850s, the institution -- now called Chancellor University -- once again faces an existential threat, this time at the hands of its regional accreditor. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools voted in late June to put Chancellor on "show cause" status, meaning that the institution will be shut down if its officials cannot persuade the accreditor within a year that it has ameliorated the agency's concerns, which relate to weak finances, conflicts of interest and poor student retention.

It has been a bumpy few years for the institution since 2008, when the Higher Learning Commission granted permission for Myers' buyers (led by the high-profile investor Michael Clifford) to transform it into Chancellor. Clifford had grand plans, including the naming of the institution's management school for Jack Welch, the former head of General Electric. (The management school has since been sold to another for-profit institution, Strayer University.) But it wasn't long before the institution was back in turmoil; in February 2010, the Higher Learning Commission gave it a show cause order, but the commission concluded by February 2011 that the institution had addressed its concerns. But quarterly reports filed by the institution triggered new concerns last February, leading to the new show cause order.

Chancellor University officials told Crain's Cleveland Business that the institution would get through the current crisis as it did two years ago. “Every member of the leadership team and the board of trustees would swear in a court of law, on the Bible and the U.S. Constitution that this institution is significantly better than it was when it got off show-cause” last time, President Robert Daugherty told the newspaper.
 

August 7, 2012

The American Bar Associations has announced that it will not accredit law schools outside the United States. Several panels of the ABA have studied the issue. An association statement said that reviewing foreign law schools would "divert the [legal education] section's attention and resources at a time of significant strain on its finances and personnel." At the same time, the ABA said that there was a "need to identify and establish appropriate standards and procedures for the licensing of foreign lawyers who would like to practice in this country." The impetus for the review was a request for accreditation from the Peking University School of Transnational Law, which offers students both a Chinese-style law degree and a J.D. program based on American law school curriculums.I have e-mail out to Peking -- will add reaction if I get one -sj

 

August 6, 2012

The proportion of academic research involving more than one institution is going up, according to an analysis by the National Science Foundation. The NSF looked at the percentage of academic R&D funding that goes to "pass through" payments to a second institution. The figure is now 7 percent, up from 5 percent in 2000.

 

August 6, 2012

After years of litigation, Fisk University has finalized a deal to sell a half share in its renowned art collection to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, The Tennessean reported. Fisk will receive $74 million to give the museum the right to display the art for two-year periods, rotating with periods in which the art will reside at Fisk. Many in the art world have criticized Fisk for selling the collection, which was donated by Georgia O'Keeffe in 1949, with a request that it never be sold. Fisk, a financially troubled historically black college, has said that it needs the money to stabilize its budget.

 

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