Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, May 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Laramie County Community College is refusing to release a report that may criticize the conduct of Darrel Hammon, the president, when he served as chaperone on a college-sponsored trip to Costa Rica, The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle reported. The college says that releasing the report could violate the federal law that requires students' privacy to be protected. The Tribune-Eagle, which requested the report, has volunteered to let a judge review the report to see whether its release would create privacy issues, but the college has declined the offer.

Monday, May 17, 2010 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- Robert Shireman, the deputy under secretary of education who led the Obama administration's efforts to overhaul the student loan programs and has spearheaded its increased scrutiny of for-profit higher education, will announce tomorrow that he is leaving his job July 1. Shireman's decision, which was confirmed by several people familiar with his situation, was expected in many ways; he had to be persuaded to return to Washington to join the administration and made clear from start that he would be a short timer. (His family has been entrenched in the San Francisco Bay area for years, and he was reluctant to have them pull up roots.) Shireman achieved his primary goal in coming to Washington: legislation enacted this spring to shift the origination of all federal student loans to the federal government's Direct Loan Program, which he played a role in creating and building in his previous jobs on Capitol Hill and in the Clinton White House. The legislation also expanded the income-based repayment program that Shireman helped create. So on those counts, the timing of his announcement makes sense. But it is likely to cause a stir nonetheless among Wall Street analysts, who have been watching his every move because of the Education Department's aggressive regulation of for-profit colleges. Shireman is expected to return to California with his wife and children.
More on Shireman's departure -- including the fact that word of his resignation drove up stock prices for publicly traded higher education companies -- on Inside Higher Ed tomorrow.

Monday, May 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Israeli authorities on Sunday barred Noam Chomsky, the linguistics scholar and political activist who has repeatedly criticized Israel, from entering the West Bank to give a lecture at Birzeit University, Reuters reported. Mustafa al-Barghouti, who had arranged the visit, called Israel's refusal to let Chomsky enter from Jordan "a fascist action, amounting to suppression of freedom of expression." The Associated Press reported that Israeli officials said late Sunday that "a misunderstanding" may have been responsible, and that he may be permitted to enter in time for him to give his talk, scheduled for today.

Monday, May 17, 2010 - 3:00am

TIAA-CREF is about to announce a major expansion into the endowment management business and has been recruiting money managers from colleges and universities as it prepares to launch, Bloomberg reported. Goldman Sachs is also planning an expanded focus on the market -- and these companies' interest comes at a time of considerable movement about endowment managers at colleges, the article said.

Monday, May 17, 2010 - 3:00am

The Alliance Defense Fund -- a group that promotes the rights of religious students, among others -- on Friday issued a press release saying that it had secured for students at Mohave Community College the right to have prayers at the nursing students' graduation ceremony. The fund announced that prayers, which have been common in the ceremony, had been eliminated and were being restored because of the fund's action. In an interview, however, Michael Kearns, the president, said that the college had never banned prayer at the ceremony. He said that a university committee had designed a template for graduation ceremonies, and that the benedictions were designated (as they have been in the past) as optional, with student organizers given the right to invite someone to offer prayers. He said that the fund apparently saw that prayer was not listed as a mandatory part of the template, and took that to mean prayer was being banned. He said that for the fund to claim credit for restoring prayer to the ceremony was like claiming credit "for the sun coming up tomorrow morning."

Monday, May 17, 2010 - 3:00am

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, unveiled his latest proposed budget for 2010-11 on Friday and it doesn't propose cuts (and actually includes restoration of funds) for the state's three higher education systems. The news led to praise from leaders of the systems, but it is unclear whether the budget will survive. The governor's proposals may reflect a growing consensus in the state that cuts to higher education have been debilitating. However, the governor's budget plan includes such measures as the complete elimination of the state's major welfare program and of the main program to provide state subsidized child care -- and many legislators are vowing to save these and other programs.

Monday, May 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Clotilde Reiss, a French academic, was permitted to return home from Iran 10 months after she was arrested on various charges that she denied, AFP reported. Reiss was conducting research in Iran and also teaching French at the University of Isfahan at the time of her arrest.

Monday, May 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Albion College's board approved a series of cuts Friday that include 15 full-time faculty positions. The college is eliminating academic majors in computer science and physical education and minors in dance, journalism and physical education. College officials said that the changes were needed to preserve quality following enrollment declines. Many faculty members have questioned the process the board used, and said that it eliminated past protections for professors' role in evaluating academic changes and for preserving tenure.

Monday, May 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Faculty members at the University of Wisconsin at Superior voted 75 to 5 last week to unionize, and will now be represented by a campus chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. The vote is the first on unionization in the university system since a state law last year permitted collective bargaining for faculty members in the University of Wisconsin. The AFT has organizing drives under way throughout the system and a vote is about to take place at the university's Eau Claire campus.

Monday, May 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Lambuth University, a financially struggling Methodist University in Tennessee, needs to find a purchaser this week or could be at serious risk of closure, the university's president, Bill Seymour said Friday, The Jackson Sun reported. Seymour indicated that the university may not be able to make payroll on time in May.

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