Many students at Cuyahoga Community College are objecting to the decision of the college's Metro campus to refuse to let Maria Graciani continue her job as an "ambassador" -- in which she helped with orientation, campus tours and other activities -- because 16 years ago she was convicted of aggravated assault, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported. Graciani has served in the position successfully in the past, but the college recently started doing background checks on those in such jobs, and denied her the chance to continue as an ambassador this year. While college officials declined to talk about the decision, they have said that that they introduced the background checks to protect the safety of everyone on campus. Graciani's conviction stems from charges that, during a brawl, she hit a woman with a beer bottle. She said in an interview with the newspaper that someone else hit the woman, but that she pleaded guilty to avoid prison.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of Texas at Austin has announced a pilot program to test the idea of linking loan forgiveness to progress made by undergraduates toward graduation. Under the program, the university will select 200 undergraduates who receive federal unsubsidized student loans. If they complete 15 credits in a semester, the university will repay $1,000 in principal, plus accrued interest.
A survey of admissions officers by Kaplan Test Prep has found that they are increasingly likely to find on social media material that may hurt some applicants' chances of admission. Only a minority of admissions officers say that they consult Google or Facebook on applicants. But the percentage of admissions officers who reported that something they found there had negatively affected an applicant's chances of admission increased in the last year from 12 percent to 35 percent. Some of the material that the admissions officers found: essay plagiarism, vulgarities in blogs, alcohol consumption in photographs and "illegal activities."
An update to the student loan system that revealed some borrowers' personal information to other borrowers was inadvertent and did not disclose borrowers' birth dates or Social Security numbers, the Education Department said Thursday. A glitch in a new feature allowing students to download their student loan information gave students access to other borrowers' information instead, the department said, but the problem involved only "a small number' of borrowers (two borrowers reported the problem to the department) and was fixed "within hours."
The affected borrowers had access to others' addresses and loan amounts. "While we regret any inconvenience this may have caused, we have no reason to believe that any fraudulent activity resulted from this error," department spokesman Justin Hamilton said in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed.
Private colleges increased their tuition by an average of 3.9 percent in 2012-13, the smallest rise in four decades, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities announced Thursday. The association said its survey, which included responses from 445 of its 960 members, also found that the average institution's financial aid budget rose by 6.2 percent. The data come at a time of heightened pressure from politicians and the public for colleges to keep their charges within reach of students and families.
The State Higher Education Executive Officers, in an open letter Thursday, laid out a suggested agenda for the next presidential administration (whether President Obama or Mitt Romney) in keeping with many of higher education's requests. The next administration, wrote Paul Lingenfelter, the group's president, should stay focused on increasing the number of Americans with college degrees and keeping college affordable, supporting research while making it more efficient, and facilitate cooperation between higher education and elementary and secondary education. The letter also highlighted the role state funding cuts have played in tuition growth, but didn't suggest that the federal government should do anything (such as maintenance-of-effort provisions in legislation) to reverse the trend.
WASHINGTON -- A National Collegiate Athletic Association committee charged with finding ways to address campus violence and prevention as it relates to athletes has a clearer idea of how it might do so after a two-day think tank here wrapped up Thursday. While the committee won't formulate any recommendations until its meeting at the end of this month (at the soonest), and won't present those until the Division I Board of Directors meets in January, the NCAA staff, athletics administrators and university officials at the think tank discussed the importance of cross-campus collaboration in violence prevention, and the need to identify best practices and institutional models that are effective in preventing victimization.
Reports of athletes involved in "acts of violence" (and other cases that went unreported in the media) prompted the NCAA to address this issue, said Deborah Wilson, chair of the NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct and associate athletic director at George Mason University. But no specific cases triggered the initiative, she said.
"This is a huge problem; it's not just an athletic problem, it's really a societal problem, and it's coming onto our campuses and into our athletics departments," Wilson said in an interview Friday. "We want to be very mindful, be respectful and very caring about the true costs to the victims of these incidents. This is not an issue that athletics can address by itself."
Faculty leaders at the University of Kentucky issued a letter Thursday to President Eli Capilouto charging that he has created a "false crisis" to justify budget shifts, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. The letter acknowledges that the state has cut appropriations, but argues that only $20 million of a $43 million budget deficit can be attributed to those cuts. The rest of the cuts -- which have led to 140 layoffs -- were necessary because of the administration's budget priorities, the faculty letter said. Capilouto told the newspaper that he welcomes "constructive feedback."