Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 21, 2013

Martin University on Friday announced 16 faculty and staff layoffs, The Indianapolis Star reported. The layoffs follow an enrollment drop. The university expected to have 700 students enroll this fall, but ended up with only 522.

October 18, 2013

Two weeks after Howard University's president announced he would step down this year after five years in office, the university's Faculty Senate voted no confidence in the board, The Washington Post reported. "The no-confidence vote again focused a spotlight on a board that has had recent internal disputes," the newspaper said. 

October 18, 2013

Hours after the Westfield State University board placed President Evan Dobelle on paid leave and ordered another investigation of his questionable spending, the Massachusetts public university named its academic affairs vice president, Elizabeth Preston, as interim leader, MassLive reported.

October 18, 2013

Middlebury College has suspended for one year a student who was involved in removing and throwing into the garbage flags placed on the campus last month to commemorate the Sept. 11 attacks. In a statement on the college's website, officials said that the individual was believed to be the only student among five people who carried out the vandalism of what has become an annual commemoration at Middlebury (as on many campuses). The protesters said they were objecting to American imperialism.

The college's statement said that Middlebury's "community judicial board" had found the student responsible for violating standards relating to general conduct and respect for people and property. The one-year suspension was upheld on appeal, the statement said.

October 18, 2013

Students who completed an undergraduate program in 2007-8 were more likely to borrow money to pay for college but less likely to be repaying those loans within a year of graduation compared with their counterparts who graduated in 1992-93 and 1999-2000, a new federal report shows.

The report, released Thursday, analyzes the borrowing and repayment trends of bachelor’s degree recipients within a year of graduation for three cohorts of students. The data were collected through the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study from the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, which, like the rest of the federal government, returned to work on Thursday.

The study found that the percentage of college graduates who borrowed for their undergraduate education rose in each successive cohort from 49 percent (1993) to 64 percent (2000) to 66 percent (2008). The average cumulative debt of graduates also increased in each successive cohort. The number of borrowers repaying their loans within a year of graduation dipped in 2009 to 60 percent, compared with 66 and 65 percent in the previous cohorts. At the same time, the percentage of graduates not in repayment but who still owed money on their student loans (due to either deferments, forbearances or default) rose.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • One in four students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2008 had enrolled in graduate school a year later, which represents a slight increase from previous cohorts. However, across all three cohorts, students’ decision to attend graduate school within a year of graduation was not correlated with how much debt they had already incurred.
  • Student debt levels were also not correlated with a graduate’s decision to move back with parents or other family within a year of graduation (only in cases in which the student left home for college in the first place). That scenario played out at a higher rate (27 percent) for the 2008 graduates than for their 2000 counterparts (18 percent) but at the same rate as 1993 graduates.
October 18, 2013

The University of the Pacific announced Thursday that it has received $125 million from the estate of a couple that agreed in 2007 to leave its assets to the California institution. The money left to Pacific by Robert and Jeannette Powell, a developer and interior designer, respectively, will create a fund that will support endowed professorships and chairs, an honors program, and the university's art collection, among other things.

October 18, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Gareth Russell of the New Jersey Institute of Technology reassesses the number of endangered tropical bird species. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 18, 2013

Grambling State University football players boycotted practice for the second straight day on Thursday, prompting campus administrators to reassign the team's interim football coach to other duties within the athletics department and put an assistant coach in charge, the Monroe News-Star reported. Grambling players have been unhappy at the early season firing of the team's head coach, Doug Williams, a former Washington Redskins quarterback, and complained about 1,000-mile bus trips required for away games in recent weeks, and their frustrations boiled over Wednesday when they walked out of a meeting with university administrators and boycotted practice, USA Today reported.

October 18, 2013

Engineering programs at Kansas State and Oklahoma State Universities and the University of Oklahoma will benefit from a stock gift valued at more than $200 million, the institutions announced Thursday. The three universities' foundations have received privately held stock from Dolese Bros. Co., a construction materials company, and that the company will buy back $500,000 worth of the stock each year, with the goal of improving the engineering programs and increasing the number of graduates they produce. (Note: This article has been updated to correct the names of the institutions receiving the gift.)

October 17, 2013

A faculty grievance committee at the University of North Dakota has found that an assistant professor of French was unfairly denied tenure based on her alleged lack of collegiality, the Forum of Fargo/Moorhead reported. Sarah Mosher, who has been at the university since 2008, was denied tenure last year and received a terminal contract for this academic year. The University Senate’s Standing Committee on Faculty Rights reviewed Mosher’s case during 32 hours of hearings – which were open to the public, at her request – last month. The committee delivered its report to North Dakota President Robert Kelley this week, recommending that he take a “proactive stance to resolve the underlying departmental issues surrounding this grievance.” The committee also found that the Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures Department, which recommended against Mosher’s tenure, suffered from “discord, dysfunction, chaos and interpersonal conflict.”

During hearings, witnesses said that she lacked collegiality by rolling her eyes at faculty meetings, slamming doors, being argumentative and competing for students, but performed well in the three areas required for tenure: teaching, scholarship and service. The committee found that collegiality was not an “implied” criterion, according to departmental and college policies, and that Mosher had not been intentionally disruptive to the department. Kelley has until Nov. 4 to decide whether to give Mosher another chance at applying for tenure, this time in accordance with college guidelines.

A university spokesman declined to comment on the matter, pending review by the president. Birgit Hans, the department chair, also declined to comment. Mosher could not immediately be reached for comment. Greg Scholtz, director of tenure, academic freedom and governance at the American Association of University Professors, said the organization historically opposes collegiality as a fourth tenure criterion, mainly due to the potential constraints it puts on academic freedom. It can encourage homogeneity and chill debate and discussion, AAUP says.


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