Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 25, 2012

Officials at the University of California at Davis will investigate accusations that two physicians at the university conducted unauthorized research on dying brain cancer patients, the Sacramento Bee reported. The newspaper reported Sunday on the alleged research, and Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi told the paper that the institution would conduct a "comprehensive review."

July 24, 2012

The University of California at Berkeley is joining edX, which was recently formed by Harvard University at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to offer MOOCs, or massively open online courses. The Berkeley announcement comes a week after Coursera, another provider of MOOCs by elite universities, announced a major expansion. In the announcement from edX, the three members are now referred to as the "X Universities." In a statement explaining the choice of edX, Robert J. Birgeneau, the chancellor at Berkeley, specifically noted the nonprofit model at edX. "We are committed to excellence in online education with the dual goals of distributing higher education more broadly and enriching the quality of campus-based education. We share the vision of MIT and Harvard leadership and believe that collaborating with the not-for-profit model of edX is the best way to do this," he said.

 

July 24, 2012

Protesters gathered on Saturday at Colby College and called for the resignation of Bob Diamond, chair of the college's board of trustees -- and until recently, chief executive officer of the British bank Barclays, which is embroiled in a interest-rate fixing scandal. Diamond resigned from his position at Barclays on July 3, a week after the bank was fined $450 million for attempting to fix the interest rate at which London banks lend to each other (abbreviated Libor) to profit on trading and also to make its borrowing costs look better during the financial crisis.

Protesters also wanted the college to say that millions of dollars in donations to the college came from alleged illegal profits he accrued while at Barclays. According to the Kennebec Journal, Diamond, a 1973 Colby graduate, donated about $14 million in recent years.

Michael Kiser, vice president for communications at the college, said the protesters were allowed to meet in front of the campus's Diamond Building, which was built after Diamond gave $6 million toward the construction of a social sciences and interdisciplinary studies building in 2003. He said the protest was not indicative of the larger Colby community's response to the scandal, adding that some alumni have contacted the college with questions, but not complaints.

Kiser said the protests don't reflect the college's stance, either: "We don't see any change in Bob's relationship to the college," Kiser said. "He's a stalwart alum."

July 24, 2012

Bain & Co. on Monday published a report and a database that the consulting company says show that a third of colleges in the country are on an unsustainable financial path. The report by the company, which has been increasing its profile in higher education by advising college and university administrations on where and how to restructure their budgets, argues that institutional debt is too handily outpacing revenues and educational expenditures.

 

 

July 24, 2012

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Universal Technical Institute over a former employee's complaint about potential violations of rules prohibiting incentive compensation in student recruiting as well as other potential violations, according to a corporate filing. The for-profit, which specializes in automotive technician training, also disclosed that the same former employee has claimed to have been subjected to retaliation by the company for being a whistleblower. The company said the employee was terminated for performance rather than for any retaliatory reason.

July 24, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, David Zald of Vanderbilt University reveals why some people are more willing to go the extra mile for a potential reward. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

July 24, 2012

The Education Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Monday released their standardized "shopping sheet," a financial aid award letter they'd like all colleges to adopt. While standardizing award letters remains controversial with many colleges, 10 college presidents and state system heads have already agreed to use the department's model, which includes the cost of attendance (broken down into tuition and fees, housing and meals, books and supplies, transportation and other costs); state, federal and institutional grants and scholarships; the net price after scholarships; and loan options. It also includes the college's six-year graduation rate and default, and the average monthly payment for a typical student who takes out loans.

In a conference call with reporters Monday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he believes peer pressure -- and pressure from students and their parents -- will cause other institutions to follow suit. "There's tremendous interest in this," Duncan said. "We'll move this as far as we can on a voluntary basis, but we're not anticipating a huge amount of resistance." 

July 23, 2012

In April, Andrew Leuchter, the chair of the Academic Senate at the University of California at Los Angeles, found that David Shorter, associate professor in the department of World Arts and Culture/Dance, had inappropriately linked from the website for his course, "Tribal Worldviews," to a website promoting a boycott of Israel. Now, the committee of the Academic Senate that deals with academic freedom issues has found that Shorter did nothing wrong, The Los Angeles Times reported. A letter from the committee said that he was within his rights to have the link. Further, the committee questioned why Leuchter looked into the matter at the request of a pro-Israel group unaffiliated with the university. "We think that faculty members should be free of such scrutiny and should not have to answer to interest groups outside the university,” the committee said in a letter to Shorter.

July 23, 2012

As colleges have cut their budgets and eliminated positions, the impact has been felt in many college towns, The Wall Street Journal reported. College towns are losing tax revenue and seeing housing prices drop -- while those who have lost jobs move away.

 

July 23, 2012

The Memphis College of Art, a private, nonprofit institution, is experiencing severe financial problems, The Commercial Appeal reported. The college's board has declared financial exigency, laid off four faculty members and announced plans to sell much of its art collection. Officials believe that the cuts have turned things around, and say that the budget is now balanced. But the budget for 2012-13 is down 28 percent from the budget for 2011-12.

 

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