Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, September 3, 2010 - 3:00am

A survey by an independent company has found that 85 percent of faculty members believe that trust between faculty and administration has broken down, and 80 percent say that there is no collaborative decision-making, The Albuquerque Journal reported. The survey was conducted following a faculty vote of no confidence in the administration and a report by the university's accreditor noting the breakdown in faculty-administrator relations. Many professors have complained that they have been given little say in dealing with deep budget cuts that have gone ahead while spending has gone up on administrative functions and athletics.

Friday, September 3, 2010 - 3:00am

Andrew Cuomo, New York State's attorney general (and the Democratic candidate for governor), announced Thursday that his office has started an investigation into "deceptive credit card marketing practices" that focus on college students. He said that his office has sent letters to every college and university in New York State, asking for information on agreements and marketing deals so he can look for "problematic" practices. Cuomo's statement said he was concerned about reports of colleges giving credit card companies students' personal contact information without the students' permission and of cases in which the credit card companies "have bombarded students with solicitations at student centers, athletic events, orientations, classroom buildings, and other campus locations."

Thursday, September 2, 2010 - 3:00am

Education Management Corporation, the company that runs the Art Institutes, Argosy University and other for-profit colleges, has turned to external consultants to help employees craft letters voicing opposition to the U.S. Department of Education's proposed regulations on "gainful employment." CEO Todd Nelson wrote to employees last week asking them to cooperate with representatives from DCI Group who would write personalized letters on behalf of employees, which they could then sign and send to Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Steve Burd, editor of the New America Foundation's Higher Ed Watch blog, which first reported on Nelson's request, characterized it as an attempt at "manufacturing dissent."

In an e-mail message to Inside Higher Ed, an Education Management spokeswoman, Jacquelyn Muller, said it was "important" for the company's employees and students to be able to speak out against the proposed rules. "We will continue to communicate our opposition to the proposed Gainful Employment Rule and support voluntary efforts that allow our employees, students and faculty to do so as well."

Thursday, September 2, 2010 - 3:00am

Drake University on Wednesday announced that its football team will play a game on May 21, 2011 in Tanzania -- in what the university believes will be the first American football game in Africa. Drake will play an all-star team from the CONADEIP conference in Mexico in what is being called the Global Kilimanjaro Bowl. After the game, members of both teams will participate in service activities in the area and they plan to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Southern Mississippi is planning to cut 29 faculty jobs -- including those of 14 tenured professors -- as various academic units are eliminated or reduced to deal with state budget cuts, The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., reported. Anita Davis, president of the Faculty Senate, said: "It's sad. These are some of our most-respected people on campus."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 3:00am

A former postdoctoral researcher at Washington State University fabricated and falsified data in a journal article and has been barred from participation in federal research projects for three years, the Office of Research Integrity at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday. The announcement in the Federal Register involved researcher Hung-Shu Chang, a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and an article in the journal Endocrinology.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 3:00am

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation has announced that it will conduct an audit of its scholarship program, following reports of repeated violations of its rules by one member, The Dallas Morning News reported. The Morning News revealed recently that Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Texas Democrat, gave 23 scholarships to four of her relatives and two children of a top aide -- violating the foundation's anti-nepotism rules and requirements that scholarship recipients live in the districts of the members awarding the funds.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 3:00am

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the legality of a Florida law that bars state employees from using state funds to travel to countries on the U.S. government's list of "State Sponsors of Terrorism." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit rejected a challenge by faculty members from several public universities in Florida, who argued that the state statute conflicts with federal law and intrudes on the federal government's power to control foreign affairs. But the appeals panel, in partially overturning a lower court's split ruling, backed the state's right to determine how its own funds for education (and non-state funds administered at state expense) are spent, including on academic travel.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 3:00am

A Brooklyn College alumnus has ended plans for a bequest because of his anger over a reading assignment for first-year students, The New York Daily News reported. The book in question is How Does It Feel to Be a Problem, by Moustafa Bayoumi, who teaches at the college. The book looks at the experiences of Arab-Americans, post 9/11. Bruce Kesler, the alumnus, told the Daily News: ""That book was a poor and insulting choice. I'm sure Brooklyn College is still a great avenue for education, but I don't think that I should send it any more money." The National Association of Scholars, which has drawn attention to what it considers politicized reading assignments for freshman orientation programs, recently wrote critically about the book. A statement from the college said it was "regrettable that Mr. Bruce Kesler misunderstands the intentions of the Common Reader experience and the broader context of this selection."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 3:00am

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, a key member of the Senate Democratic leadership, on Tuesday called for a number of reforms of federal laws that involve for-profit higher education, saying that they should share in the default risks of their students -- costs that are currently assumed by the taxpayers. “While responsible for-profit colleges offer a valuable alternative to students, there are too many schools taking advantage of students and making money hand over fist,” Durbin said at a forum he held in Chicago. “Some for-profit colleges are spending a quarter of their revenues on marketing and recruiting, and up to 90 percent of those revenues come from federal funding. We need to consider whether it is wise for companies to profit so handsomely on federal funding when the results don’t match the investment. And we need Congressional action to rein in abuses and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being wisely spent.” Durbin also proposed that accreditation rules be changed so that for-profit colleges can't obtain accreditation by purchasing accredited nonprofit colleges. And he said the for-profit colleges should be required to release more information about "real costs," job placement rates and other factors.

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