Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 23, 2012

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney released a list of his education advisory committee Tuesday, including several veterans of George W. Bush's administration (among them former Education Secretary Rod Paige). Romney's higher education co-chairs are Phil Handy, former chairman of the Florida Board of Education, and Bill Hansen, a former deputy education secretary; for vocational education, he is seeking advice from Carol D'Amico, formerly an assistant education secretary and executive vice president of Ivy Tech Community College, and Emily DeRocco, formerly assistant secretary for employment and training at the Labor Department.

Higher education has not featured strongly in the former Massachusetts governor's campaign so far, although Romney has supported an extension of the 3.4 percent interest rate for subsidized student loans.

May 22, 2012

Alleging false and misleading recruitment materials that overstated earnings expectations and understated the risk of unemployment, an advocacy group is calling for the resignation of a Rutgers University at Camden School of Law administrator. Law School Transparency, a policy organization working to reduce the cost of legal education, said associate dean Camille Andrews sent prospective students information that exaggerated the benefits of attending Rutgers-Camden. In addition to Andrews's resignation, Law School Transparency called for an investigation by the American Bar Association and asked the university to clarify the data in those materials to any prospective students who were contacted.

Dean Rayman Solomon is standing by Andrews. Solomon said the recruitment material was accurate but that he's "open to discussion" about the best way to reach prospective students going forward. The promotion in question targeted potential applicants who took the GMAT, not the LSAT, the typical law school admission test. The goal, Solomon said, was to reach a new audience and introduce the Rutgers-Camden program. Students could then go online to get more information.

"This was one letter saying are you interested, have you thought about it?" Solomon said. "This is not our entire marketing campaign. This is telling people that we have a program."

But were the numbers misleading?

"I don’t know how to respond," Solomon said. "If you have a hundred people, would four of them be misled? Would one be misled? Would 98 be misled? [It was] a piece that was designed to get people to think about something they hadn't thought about. This wasn’t the only information they could get about it."

The transparency group charged that:

  • Employment data for recent graduates excluded the 43 graduates (out of 242 total) who were unemployed without making that distinction clear.
  • The college claimed that “many” recent graduates had salaries of more than $130,000, while a Law School Transparency analysis suggested that only one to five recent grads were earning in that range.
  • Rutgers-Camden exaggerates the likelihood and value of receiving a judicial clerkship. That claim left Solomon "incensed," because he said New Jersey has an exceptional and competitive clerkship program, unlike some other states.
  • By contacting students who took the GMAT, Law School Transparency said Rutgers-Camden portrayed itself inaccurately as a "down-economy safe haven that leads to status and riches."

The dean didn't dispute any of Law School Transparency's figures, which came from the college, but disagreed with the analysis.

May 22, 2012

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has announced he will sign legislation headed to his desk that will eliminate legislative scholarships, GateHouse News Service reported. The scholarships -- in which legislators give away scholarships to public universities -- have long been controversial but have survived many previous attempts to kill them. "There is no place for a political scholarship program in Illinois,” the governor said in a statement. “As I have repeatedly advocated, scholarships -- paid for by Illinois taxpayers – should be awarded only to those with merit who are in true financial need. Abolishing this program is the right thing to do."

May 22, 2012

The former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi was sentenced Monday in a New Jersey county courthouse to 30 days in jail, three years’ probation, 300 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine for his actions leading up to the suicide of his roommate, Tyler Clementi. Ravi, who used a webcam to spy on Clementi kissing another man, while other students looked on, faced up to 10 years in state prison. He was found guilty on charges of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy. Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge days after the incident took place; Ravi was not charged in direct connection with Clementi’s death. Ravi is still subject to deportation to his native India, but the judge said he will recommend that the 20-year-old be allowed to stay in the United States. Ravi is slated to begin his jail term May 31; his lawyers say they will appeal the sentence.

May 22, 2012

An audit by the Los Angeles Community College District has found that nearly $100,000 in checks to the head of the Los Angeles Trade Tech foundation may have been forged, The Los Angeles Times reported. The forgery is of the signature of Trade Tech's president, Roland Chapdelaine. Rhea Chung, the foundation head, is on leave pending an investigation, but has denied all wrongdoing and said that checks she received were appropriate. The auditors said that they could not say who may have forged the president's signature.


May 22, 2012

Google is allocating part of its New York offices to Cornell University and Technion -- the Israel Institute of Technology to help the universities grow their presence in the city while they wait on construction of their joint campus on Roosevelt Island, the city, universities, and company announced today. The Roosevelt Island campus, the result of a months-long competition primarily between Cornell and Stanford University, is designed to focus on applied sciences and stimulate the city's technology sector. City and university administrators hailed Google's move as an opportunity to bring the universities closer to the types of companies it hopes to develop. Google is initially providing 22,000 square feet of office space free of charge and is giving Cornell the option of expanding to 58,000 square feet over five years.

May 22, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Marjorie Cooper of Baylor University explains research examining why religious belief doesn’t always translate into ethical behavior. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


May 22, 2012

The University of Notre Dame has joined 42 other Roman Catholic institutions -- including three other colleges -- in filing suit against the Obama administration over a rule that would require most religious institutions to offer employee (and student) health insurance plans that cover contraception at no cost. Colleges, Catholic dioceses, charities and other organizations filed 12 separate lawsuits Monday, alleging that the requirement infringes on their religious freedom. Catholic University of America and St. Francis University also sued, as did Franciscan University of Steubenville, which recently chose to discontinue its student health plan rather than offer insurance covering contraception.

Also on Monday, Ave Maria University announced that it would stop offering student health insurance rather than comply with the federal rules, The News-Press reported.

Religious institutions have sparred with the Obama administration for months over the call to include contraceptive services as part of a broad array of preventive medical care. A compromise -- that insurers, not institutions, would pay for the contraceptive coverage -- did little to quell the outrage among Catholic and some evangelical Protestant colleges, who view the new mandate as an assault on religious freedom.




May 22, 2012

New State Department guidance could complicate some activities at Confucius Institutes, which operate on many American college and university campuses. The guidance says that the J-1 visa program, through which many scholars from China come to the institutes, does not permit any teaching in elementary and secondary schools (which some scholars have done). Further, the guidance says that Chinese language courses taught at the institutes must be part of colleges' foreign language offerings or separately accredited. Some of the institutes may not meet those criteria. Many colleges have welcomed the institutes for the infusion of Chinese programming they bring to campuses, while others worry about ties to the Chinese government and an emphasis on non-controversial topics.

May 22, 2012

Many American physicists are worried that the United States is losing its edge in their discipline, The New York Times reported. The article cites instances in which key breakthroughs by American scientists must be followed by work in Europe or elsewhere because of a lack of support in the United States. “While it’s great to support other missions,” Adam Riess, a Nobel laureate at Johns Hopkins University, told the Times, "it would be disappointing to see the U.S. lose or outsource its own leading role in one of the hottest areas of research.”


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