Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 14, 2018

Questions are again being raised about the University of Michigan's investment practices and potential conflicts of interests between the institution and its officers and donors.

An investigative report published by the Detroit Free Press Thursday focused renewed attention on the university related to allegations by the newspaper that wealthy alumni with "sway over the university's $11-billion endowment have given thousands in campaign donations to members of the university's governing board."

The recent report follows a series of investigative articles published earlier this year by the Free Press which alleged that a large portion of the university's endowment was invested in private equity, hedge and venture capital funds, and real estate investment firms run by top university donors and alumni investment advisers.

University administrators strongly denied the new allegations and issued a long, written rebuttal.

"We categorically reject the innuendo from the Free Press that there has been any wrongdoing on the part of the university or members of our Board of Regents in how we interact with our donors or manage the university's investments," Rick Fitzgerald, the university's spokesperson, said in an emailed comment. "We are proud of the successful performance of our endowment and the ethical manner in which we manage our investments."

September 14, 2018

Dartmouth College has named Callie Brownson (at right) to be offensive quality control coach for its football team. The college says that it believes Brownson to be the first full-time female football coach at the Division I level. Previously, she played on a women's football team and was a coach at the Manning Passing Academy.

September 14, 2018

The first ACT which was exclusively computer based at international testing centers, given last weekend featured glitches that prevented some students from taking the exam. ACT has now announced that it will repeat the test September 29 for those who were unable to take the test as scheduled. Those who were unable to take the test as scheduled will not be charged.

ACT officials said that they did not know how many students were unable to take the test, but that a "large majority" had been able to do so.

September 14, 2018

About 63 percent of college students aren't eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables every day, according to a new report by the American College Health Association.

Researchers Vinayak K. Nahar of Lincoln Memorial University, Manoj Sharma of Jackson State University and M. Allison Ford of the University of Mississippi looked at how to improve college students' diets -- their findings were published recently in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

"The eating habits we have as adults were often established while in college," Nahar said. "Enticing students to add more fruits and vegetables into their diets now is key, but we must then focus on making those changes permanent."

About 175 college students were also surveyed on their willingness to change their diet and increase their fruit and vegetable intake. Those participants suggested that cafeterias add vending machines that sell produce, increase the variety of fruit available on campus and improve the taste of meals.

According to the survey respondents, staying with a diet that includes the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables requires an "emotional shift" -- students deciding to eat healthy even when they're stressed. Enlisting family and friend support also helped sustain a healthy eating regimen.

September 14, 2018

The Marygrove College campus in Detroit will become a "cradle-to-career" site under new plans announced Thursday, hosting pre-school through graduate-level education, including a teacher-education program designed to emulate the hospital residencies used to prepare doctors for their careers.

Several entities are involved in the plan: the City of Detroit, The University of Michigan, Detroit Public Schools Community District, Marygrove College, a nonprofit known as Starfish Family Services and a Michigan foundation, The Kresge Foundation. It is being called one of the first "P-20" partnerships in the nation and is backed by a $50 million commitment from the foundation, The Detroit News reported.

Just last year, Marygrove announced it was ending its undergraduate programs and would only be offering master's degree programs starting in January 2018. The small Roman Catholic liberal arts college faced falling enrollment, consistent deficits, large debts and a dwindling endowment.

The Kresge Foundation spent $16 million on stabilizing the college and restructuring its debt.

Leaders now intend to pursue their new vision for the campus with the pilot of a ninth-grade program to open in 2019 and an early childhood education center and kindergarten in the fall of 2020. By 2029, all grades are expected to be offered, plus undergraduate programs, graduate programs, certifications and other professional development courses.

The University of Michigan will offer the teacher residency program, which will have undergraduate and graduate students serving as student teachers at a public school on campus. Once they finish their degrees, they'll be supervised resident teachers at the school for three years.

"The teaching school creates a singular space in which every adult in the building -- every adult -- is focused on two primary goals: the education of children and youth, and the education of new professionals, both teachers and leaders," said Elizabeth Birr Moje, dean of the University of Michigan School of Education, at a press conference announcing the new partnerships.

September 14, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute: Michelle Watts, faculty director and assistant professor in the school of security and global studies at American Public University, examines why some Native Americans still have limited internet access and how to fix it. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 13, 2018

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' decision to delay an Obama administration student loan rule was illegal.

After DeVos delayed the rule, known as borrower defense, consumer groups and student advocates sued the department. The regulations spelled out how borrowers defrauded or misled by their institution could seek loan forgiveness.

DeVos in July released a rewrite of the borrower defense rule that included tougher standards for borrowers seeking loan discharge. 

U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss did not direct the department to take any action on the regulation but said he would rule Friday on possible remedies 

September 13, 2018

Bowling Green State University and Mercy College of Ohio on Wednesday announced the start of a two-to-three-year process under which the college and its degree programs will become part of the university. Mercy has nine degree programs and six certificate programs, serving a total of about 1,500 students. Mercy's emphasis is in nursing and health professions.


September 13, 2018

New research finds that required physical activity courses make a difference in the habits of college students. The research compared student physical activity among students with and without a course requirement. Elective offerings, the study found, tend to attract those who already were likely to engage in physical activity, and so do not tend to reach those who might otherwise be sedentary. The study was published in The Journal of American College Health.

September 13, 2018

The European Parliament took the unprecedented step Wednesday of approving a proposal calling on European Union member states to determine whether Hungary is at risk of breaching the union's founding values -- the first step toward possible sanctions against the country.

Among the values at stake are those related to academic freedom and freedoms of expression and association. A report adopted by the Parliament by a 448-197 margin Wednesday outlines concerns related to a 2017 law on foreign branch campuses that has been widely seen as an attack on academic freedom generally and on the Budapest-based Central European University, an American-accredited graduate institution, specifically. It also discusses concerns about the Hungarian government's plans, revealed in August, to cancel or refuse recognition to gender studies programs.

Other areas of concern outlined in the report include those relating to the functioning of the constitutional and electoral system; judicial independence; corruption and conflicts of interest; privacy and data protection; freedom of religion; the right to equal treatment, the rights of minority groups, including Roma and Jews; the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees; and economic and social rights.

The European University Association, which monitors university autonomy issues across Europe and has 13 member institutions in Hungary, said the vote is "a warning to all EU governments to respect fundamental values, including those regarding university matters."

"While the situation is alarming in several countries including Turkey and Russia" -- neither of which are EU members -- "Hungary is the first EU member state to systematically interfere in university matters and repeatedly violate academic freedom," the association said in a statement.

Hungary's right-wing government has condemned the parliament's action against it. Péter Szijjártó, the minister of foreign affairs and trade described the parliament's decision as "the petty revenge of the pro-immigration politicians." Szijjártó said the parliamentary report "includes 37 false, deceitful, unfair and unfounded accusations that insult Hungary, and which have absolutely nothing to do with reality," including accusations regarding the restriction of academic freedom.


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