Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 16, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Carlos Mendes de Leon, professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan, examines wealth shock and its effects on your health. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

July 13, 2018

The University of Wyoming announced Thursday that it will stick with a planned marketing campaign with the theme "The World Needs More Cowboys." Some faculty members and others have suggested that the theme is sexist and that cowboys are not necessarily viewed favorably by Native Americans and others.

But university officials said that the campaign's ideas had been tested with various groups, and that the message was intended to be inclusive. “Drawing upon Wyoming’s proud heritage, this campaign redefines what it means to be a cowboy in this day and age, distilling it down to the inner spirit of curiosity and boldness that all who call themselves cowboys and cowgirls can identify with -- no matter their race or gender, or whether they’re students, employees, alumni or other supporters,” said a statement by President Laurie Nichols.

July 13, 2018

The Federal Bureau of Investigation this week released details of a fraud scheme that bilked more than $24 million in Post-9/11 GI Bill funds, affecting more than 2,500 student veterans.

The scam, which the FBI called a "basic bait-and-switch," involved officials with Ed4Mil, an online correspondence course provider, and a now former dean of Caldwell University, a private institution located in New Jersey. The for-profit Ed4Mil recruited veterans and service members to enroll in what they thought were Caldwell courses. Instead the students were taking unaccredited correspondence courses.

The co-conspirators would charge up to $20,000 for correspondence courses that cost less than $1,000, the FBI said, while pocketing the difference. The scheme continued for about four years.

David Alvey, Ed4Mil's founder and president, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and was sentenced last month to five years in prison. One of his employees also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation.

Lisa DiBisceglie, a former associate dean and associate vice president of academic affairs at Caldwell, pleaded guilty and was sentenced last month to six years of probation, Jersey Shore Online reported.

Caldwell has said current university officials had no knowledge of the fraud, and the FBI said the university cooperated fully in the investigation.

July 13, 2018

Roughly one-quarter of current college students think it will be difficult to finish their degree programs, according to the results of a new survey from Civitas Learning, a student success company, and the Center for Generational Kinetics, a research firm focused on young people.

The survey was conducted in April and May and received responses from 1,545 undergraduates who were enrolled in four-year institutions or community colleges. Leading the list among students' greatest perceived challenges to getting to graduation were time management (36 percent), anxiety (35 percent), being overwhelmed managing responsibilities (31 percent), study skills (25 percent) and working too many hours (24 percent). Respondents also cited housing security (12 percent) and food insecurity (8 percent).

Students reported feeling most confident turning to an academic adviser for help, compared to friends, family or other college staff. Yet roughly a quarter of respondents said it had been six months or longer since they met with an adviser, and 3 percent reported never having met with one.

July 13, 2018

A New York jury convicted the founder and former president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute of steering development contracts to help companies owned by supporters of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Newsday reported. Alain Kaloyeros resigned in 2016 from the State University of New York institution after the corruption allegations surfaced. A statement from a SUNY spokeswoman Thursday said, "The verdict confirms that Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, former president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, breached the public trust. This is unacceptable of any public servant, but especially one who was trusted with leading a world-class public institution."

July 13, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Dorion Borbonus, associate professor of history at the University of Dayton, looks into the long past of Rome to uncover unheard voices. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

July 12, 2018

The University of Kansas has taken down a controversial work of art in which images are placed on an American flag (right).

The university acted after Republican politicians criticized the art. Chancellor Douglas A. Girod issued a statement citing safety concerns for ordering the flag to be taken down and moved into the campus art museum that sponsored the installation. "Over the course of the day, the conversation around this display has generated public safety concerns for our campus community. While we want to foster difficult dialogue, we cannot allow that dialogue to put our people or property in harm’s way," he said.

University officials had earlier on Wednesday defended the flag display.

Governor Jeff Colyer of Kansas and Steve Watkins, a Republican candidate for Congress from Kansas, condemned the art installation at the University of Kansas, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

The piece, called “Untitled (Flag 2)," by German artist Josephine Meckseper, resembles an American flag with additional illustrations. It is part of a national project called "Pledges of Allegiance."

"To those who would trample, burn, or deface the flag, thank a soldier. It hurts me to see a defaced flag fly at the University of Kansas," Watkins wrote on his Facebook page. "My thoughts turn to my friends whose coffins were draped in our flag. I’m sorry that a Kansan would deface our symbol of strength, unity, and patriotism."

Colyer, a Republican, issued a statement Wednesday demanding the art piece be taken down.

"The disrespectful display of a desecrated American flag on the KU campus is absolutely unacceptable," Colyer said in a news release. "Men and women have fought and bled for that flag and to use it in this manner is beyond disrespectful. I have communicated with KU Chancellor Doug Girod and Board of Regents President Blake Flanders to express my disappointment that a taxpayer funded institution would allow such a display of our sacred flag, and I demand that it be taken down immediately."

Peter Bonilla, vice president of programs at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, issued the following statement Wednesday.

"The University of Kansas must not take down this work of art. Instead KU must take a strong stand for the First Amendment. By doing so, KU would stand apart from the numerous institutions that have censored artistic expression," he said. "The First Amendment doesn’t exist to protect politically popular speech. It exists to protect the speech likeliest to stir controversy, and it is a crucial check against the power of the state to silence dissenting voices."

July 12, 2018

John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John’s Pizza, on Wednesday apologized for using a racial slur to describe black people. His use of the slur also raised questions for universities with which he is associated as a donor.

The University of Louisville announced that he was stepping down as a trustee.

Purdue University received $8 million from Schnatter's foundation this year and then renamed an economics center the John H. Schnatter Center for Economic Research. The Journal & Courier reported that Purdue officials said they would "continue to assess the situation while reinforcing our values."

The University of Kentucky received a $12 million gift in 2015 -- from Schnatter and the Charles Koch Foundation -- to create a center for the study of free enterprise. Jay Blanton, a spokesman for the university, released this statement: “Without question, the language reported in the conference call is unacceptable and has no place in our community. We look forward to Mr. Schnatter further addressing this issue in response to the heavy criticism he is rightly receiving.”

Ball State University also has a free enterprise center named for Schnatter, an alumnus. A spokeswoman said via email, "We just received this information within the last few hours so it is premature for us [to] comment on this specific incident involving John Schnatter. At Ball State, our alumni, faculty, staff, and students are committed to the Beneficence Pledge which encourages us 'to act in a socially responsible way' and 'pledge to value the intrinsic worth of every member of the community.'"

July 12, 2018

Many students and alumni of Yale University's law school are circulating a petition denouncing the way the law school issued a press release on President Trump's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. "The law school published a press release boasting of its alumnus’s accomplishment," the petition says. "The school’s post included quotes from Yale Law School professors about Judge Kavanaugh’s intellect, influence and mentorship of their students. Yet the press release's focus on the nominee's professionalism, pedigree, and service to Yale Law School obscures the true stakes of his nomination and raises a disturbing question: Is there nothing more important to Yale Law School than its proximity to power and prestige?"

The petition notes the anticipated votes Kavanaugh would provide on the Supreme Court for (the petition's authors believe) limits on civil liberties, abortion rights, gay rights and more. "Now is the time for moral courage -- which for Yale Law School comes at so little cost. Perhaps you, as an institution and as individuals, will benefit less from Judge Kavanaugh’s ascendent power if you withhold your support. Perhaps Judge Kavanaugh will be less likely to hire your favorite students. But people will die if he is confirmed. We hope you agree your sacrifice would be worth it. Please use your authority and platform to expose the stakes of this moment and the threat that Judge Kavanaugh poses."

The Yale law press release in question may be found here. A spokeswoman for the law school said that the press release did not endorse Kavanaugh, "We are a nonpartisan institution. We routinely acknowledge high-profile nominations of our alumni," she said, adding that "we did exactly the same thing not so long ago when Justice Sonia Sotomayor" was nominated. That press release may be read here.

July 12, 2018

Ken Peterson, a professor of music at Dixie State University who was terminated earlier this year for alleged violations of university confidentiality policies, will be reinstated, following a Utah System of Higher Education decision in his favor, the St. George News reported. “The matter has been resolved and I will be returning to my teaching position,” Peterson said in a statement. “I don’t have the words to adequately express my gratitude for the outpouring of support I’ve received from my friends, students, fellow faculty, and the community.”

A university spokesperson said that Dixie State “wholeheartedly supports this decision, and we look forward to working with Peterson again.” University policies and procedures “exist to provide a structured process and ensure fairness to and protection of faculty members throughout appeals,” she added.

Peterson and another professor of music, Glenn Webb, were terminated last semester for allegedly discussing the tenure bid of a colleague in their department. The university accused the two professors of serious violations of university ethics rules. But the professors’ many supporters said termination should be reserved for the most serious of offenses, not gossip. A faculty review board also has recommended that Webb be reinstated, but the state university system has not yet weighed in on his appeal.


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