Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 15, 2012

The University of Texas is planning today to officially join edX, which offers massive open online courses or MOOCs. Because the Texas announcement involves an entire system, it represents a major expansion of edX, which was founded by two universities (Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and was later joined by one other (the University of California at Berkeley). Coursera, another major MOOC provider, has been adding universities at a rapid pace. The Texas system plans to focus on general education and introductory-level courses for its MOOC offerings. Bloomberg reported that the University of Texas is paying $5 million to join edX.

 

October 15, 2012

The New Hampshire Attorney General's office said Friday that allegations from this summer that Dartmouth College trustees steered the college's investments toward their own firms did not merit further investigation and that the office had found no evidence of wrongdoing. An anonymous letter to the office earlier this year alleged that at least 10 Dartmouth alumni who sat on its board of trustees and investment board had made investments that were good for them but bad for the institution's long-term financial health. "Based on the unsupported nature of the allegations in the Complaint, the content of the Responses, and our review of the college's most recent financial statement," the office wrote in a letter to the college's general counsel Friday, "we find no basis to conclude Dartmouth's Trustees have violated state law by engaging in related party transactions involving the investment of a portion of Dartmouth's endowment."

“The Attorney General’s finding that these anonymous and baseless allegations are without merit speaks to the rigor of Dartmouth’s policy and practice," the college said in a statement. "As we have said previously, Dartmouth meets or exceeds all the requirements of New Hampshire law with regard to its endowment investments and for investments with firms managed by trustees or Investment Committee members.”

October 15, 2012

The Wall Street Journal explores a little-known challenge facing top college football coaches: Because their homes are frequently the largest in their localities, the mansions can be hard to sell when the coaches move to another university. Adding to the difficulty is that the homes frequently have features -- such as putting greens, wet bars and large swimming pools -- that would only appeal to some potential buyers.

 

October 12, 2012

Last month Inside Higher Ed introduced its Cartoon Caption Contest, and the response was overwhelming: Hundreds of you suggested captions or otherwise weighed in. Today we publish the second installment -- get those creative juices flowing -- and give you a chance to pick your favorite from among the three finalists we've chosen from the many submissions about September's cartoon. Remember: the winner of each month's contest wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Join the conversation.

October 12, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Jeff Clune of Cornell University reveals why the biology of life often takes a winding path through seemingly unnecessary developmental stages. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 12, 2012

Update: Robert A. Kennedy announced his resignation this morning as president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education in Connecticut. Kennedy said that controversy around decisions he had made had "become a distraction" to the work of getting the new system off the ground. The board's chairman, Lewis Robinson, said in a statement of his own that he had accepted Kennedy's resignation.

Pressure built on Thursday for the president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system to resign, the Connecticut Mirror reported, amid two weeks of intensifying controversy and confusion over leadership in the higher education system. Robert A. Kennedy, the first president of the recently created system, has been closely aligned with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, and has carried out an aggressive reform agenda that included a contentious plan to remake developmental education at public colleges. Last week, though, system leaders clashed with presidents of some of the state's community colleges over their future employment, and that paved the way to revelations that Kennedy had approved big raises for some system leaders.

In the wake of those revelations, leaders of the state board distanced themselves from Kennedy on Thursday, saying that they had not been informed about some of the system's decisions. That prompted a flood of news reports including non-supportive statements from Malloy and outright calls for Kennedy's resignations from legislators in both political parties. The system's board is scheduled to meet today.

October 12, 2012

More than 40 percent of students and recent graduates with high levels of student debt report that they never received the loan counseling required by federal law, according to a new survey released by NERA Economic Consulting and Young Invincibles. The overwhelming majority of such students favor recent Education Department initiatives to standardize aid award letters so students have a better idea of college costs, and what they may need to borrow. Far too many student borrowers "lack adequate counseling and do not understand basic student loan terms," said Rory O’Sullivan, policy director at Young Invincibles and co-author of a report on the survey.

October 12, 2012

The University of Phoenix on Thursday announced an immediate tuition freeze for all new and currently enrolled students. Tuition rates will be locked in for students as they work toward degrees, university officials said, as long as they meet eligibility requirements and stay enrolled. The university said the freeze was an effort to keep tuition levels affordable at Phoenix, which is the largest for-profit institution. Tuition rates vary at the university, but some bachelor's degree programs are $420 per credit.

October 12, 2012

"Meatless Monday" is a program embraced at a number of colleges to encourage vegetarian dining one day a week. At California State University at Chico, officials agreed to offer more non-meat meal selections on Mondays, but have decided not to associate their effort with the "Meatless Monday" slogan, The Mercury Register reported. Chico State has an agriculture college and some of its officials and alumni objected to the university associating with an effort seen by some as denigrating the parts of the agriculture industry that produce meat.

 

October 12, 2012

A small group of women in China are protesting discriminatory admissions policies by shaving their heads, ABC News reported. The women are protesting policies under which some universities are admitting men with lower scores on the national admissions test than the minimum required for women at their institutions.

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