Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 7, 2018

The Federal Trade Commission has reached agreements to shut down several copycat military websites that targeted people looking to join the armed services and then used their personal information to market for-profit colleges, the commission announced Thursday.

The websites, which were operated by Alabama-based companies, used domain names like army.com, armyenlist.com, and air-force.com and appeared to be official recruiting pages. But the companies sold the information generated from the sites to colleges for $15 to $40 for each lead, the commission said in a complaint filed by the Department of Justice. Telemarketers who called to follow up on leads would continue to impersonate members of the military, the complaint said.

The FTC reached settlements against the operators of the sites, Sunkey Publishing Inc. and Fanmail.com, to relinquish the website domains. The orders also included civil penalties against both companies that are suspended because of inability to pay.

The orders are part of a larger effort at the commission to crack down on fraud targeting military consumers.

According to Veterans Education Success, an advocacy group that has been critical of for-profit colleges, the army.com homepage as of 2015 included a list of partner schools, among them: Ashford University, University of Phoenix, Berkeley College, Colorado Technical University, Le Cordon Bleu, Sanford Brown College, Virginia College and the now defunct Heald College and Westwood College.

September 7, 2018

Indiana University at Bloomington responded Tuesday to an anti-Semitic comment about Jewish students "taking over" the campus.

The comment was posted by an anonymous user on Greekrank, a website where students can review and comment on sororities and fraternities at different universities.

“OMG so first of all I don't want to sound racist or anything.. but like wtf why are there so many jews here at IU now wat happened?” the post (reproduced here unedited) read. “where being takin over by a bunch of hairy stink rude obnoxious jews … the girls acts so damn exclusive and if ur not jewish u can't hang out with them or even talk to them.. they give us looks like were below them and not worthy of talking too...this must end or this school is gonna go to ****!”

The post has since been removed. The university condemned the post and issued the following statement to Inside Higher Ed:

"We were deeply saddened to learn about the hateful, racist, anti-Semitic remarks made online targeting members of our IU community, both within and outside of the Greek system. The language used by these anonymous posters is hurtful and offensive. Hoosiers are better than this," the statement read. "Indiana University and the IU Greek Community stand with our members of every race, religion, creed, color and sexual orientation. It is our differences that make our community so vibrant. The work that is done by our diverse group of student organizations only adds to the vitality of our campus. Contributions made by these dedicated Hoosiers highlights the positive environment that is IU. We believe every person has the right to be treated with respect as an individual rather than be reduced to a stereotype."

Chuck Carney, director of media relations, said that the university's Bias Response Network is looking into the matter and that student affairs personal are counseling students who may have been affected.

September 7, 2018

A judge ruled Wednesday that the University of Missouri's campus weapon’s ban does not violate a state statute that allows employees to conceal guns in their vehicles parked on public property, ABC 17 reported.

Royce Barondes, a law professor, brought the suit against the university’s Board of Curators in 2015, claiming that the university’s gun ban violated the statute and a 2014 amendment to the state Constitution protecting the right to bear arms. Circuit Judge Jeff Harris rejected the university’s bid to dismiss the case and ruled that due to the “plain language” of the statute, which includes the clause “Notwithstanding any sections of this provision to the contrary,” the university has a right to regulate the use of weapons on its property.

A trial will be held to determine if the ban violates the state Constitution. Christian Basi, a university spokesman, told ABC 17 the university is pleased with the ruling and preparing for the pending trial.

September 7, 2018

Monmouth University in New Jersey has suspended its entire Greek life system indefinitely, citing a series of alcohol, hazing and drug-related incidents.

The president, Grey Dimenna, notified the campus Thursday that all activities involving the university’s seven fraternities and nine sororities have been canceled. He wrote in a letter that Greek life suffers from a “lack of academic focus.”

"Over the course of the past several years, Greek communities across the country have faced challenges that have often resulted in tragic situations," Dimenna wrote. "I feel it is essential for us to be proactive in this area to avoid circumstances such as we have seen at other institutions."

Officials met with Greek life representatives in May to try to iron out a new plan to reform the system at Monmouth, which fell short of expectations, according to Dimenna.

September 7, 2018

Leaders at a pair of two-year colleges in New Jersey aim to merge by July 1 of next year into an institution with one Board of Trustees, one president and two campuses.

Cumberland County College and Rowan College at Gloucester County signed an agreement advancing the merger process, The Press of Atlantic City reported. The merger idea came up this spring and gained support from local government officials as Cumberland County College grappled with a $2 million budget deficit.

Cumberland has put layoffs in place in the midst of enrollment losses. Rowan College at Gloucester County, on the other hand, increased enrollment by 3.4 percent since a 2014 agreement with Rowan University. The partnership between the university and the two-year college, which gives students the ability to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, would be continued at the newly merged college.

Officials from the colleges outlined plans Wednesday for the merger, which would create a 10,000-student institution known as Rowan College of South Jersey. That same day, local government boards approved resolutions enabling trustees at the two colleges to pursue the combination, according to NJ.com.

Plans call for the colleges’ foundations to be autonomous and for two athletic departments to continue to operate. But other departments like finance and human resources would be combined.

The two colleges plan to submit a merger application to their accreditor, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, by Nov. 6.

September 7, 2018

Western State Colorado University on Thursday announced an $80 million gift to support a new school of computer science and engineering. The gift is from an alumnus, Paul M. Rady, chief executive officer of Colorado-based Antero Resources and Antero Midstream.

Check out other large gifts to higher education in Inside Higher Ed's fund-raising databases.

September 7, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Robert Edgell, associate professor of technology management at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, delves into how both small businesses and entrepreneurs can have a beneficial impact on a community. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 6, 2018

Brandeis University this week released a report on how it handled allegations of racial bias by its basketball coach. The coach, Brian Meehan, was fired in April. Much of the focus of the report was the failure of Brandeis officials to supervise the program, despite reports of a pattern of remarks that insulted black people and actions that were seen as favoring some players, including two sons of the coach who were team members. The report found numerous instances in which Brandeis officials failed to take action against Meehan and described how he came to view himself as "untouchable." In one case, a prior investigation into charges similar to those that eventually led to Meehan's departure was mishandled, the report said.

In response to the report, Brandeis announced that new leadership would be coming to the departments of athletics, student affairs and human resources -- all departments that played a role in the failures described in the report. The university announced that:

  • Lynne Dempsey, the athletics director, who was placed on administrative leave in the spring, "has been demoted and relieved of leadership and supervisory responsibilities, with a commensurate reduction in salary, and placed on probation."
  • Sheryl Sousa has resigned as vice president of student affairs.
  • Robin Nelson-Bailey, vice president of human resources, "has been demoted, relieved of her leadership and supervisory responsibilities, with a commensurate reduction in salary, and placed on probation."
September 6, 2018

The College of the Ozarks announced Wednesday that it is cutting ties to Nike, and that its college athletes will no longer wear athletic gear with the Nike name or emblem because of the company's new ads featuring Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick has led the campaign in which many athletes and others have protested police violence against black people by taking a knee during the national anthem. Nike recently announced that Kaepernick would feature prominently in the company's celebration of the 30th anniversary of its "Just Do It" ads.

Jerry C. Davis, president of the college, said in a statement, “In their new ad campaign, we believe Nike executives are promoting an attitude of division and disrespect toward America. If Nike is ashamed of America, we are ashamed of them. We also believe that those who know what sacrifice is all about are more likely to be wearing a military uniform than an athletic uniform.”

 

September 6, 2018

The University of Virginia’s Miller Center is facing its second controversy in almost as many months, with the resignation of a member of its governing council over a sexist email he wrote to the council’s former chair. In the year-old email obtained by Politico via an open-records request, Fred W. Scott Jr. wrote that women “don't like to be put into groups. They group up all the time, but these are their own voluntary groups. Lunch, coffee, Children, etc. No men allowed in.” Some people “just like to stir up trouble then melt into the background and watch,” he added, and, “If we have such a person, they may not be the best choice to promote.”

The email was reportedly in reference to what is known at the Miller Center as “shoegate,” in which Scott awkwardly offered to take female center employees shopping for shoes in exchange for their hard work (he later apologized). Scott, whose family has made major donations to the university, also wrote that there “are no United White People College Funds or White Students' Alliances or Men Against Drunk Driving. Even at a ‘tolerant university' ... especially there! Women's Initative [sic]. We both support it. Is there a Men's Initiative???”

Over the summer, many Virginia professors opposed the Miller Center’s decision to hire Marc Short, President Trump’s recent legislative affairs director, as a senior fellow. Two center professors resigned their positions in protest. Politico also reported that Scott is the center’s third council member to resign in a year over sexual harassment allegations. The center has since introduced additional sexual harassment training and a code of conduct.

The center, which studies the U.S. presidency, said in a statement that its “current leadership was unaware of the existence of this email until the evening of Aug. 28,” and that it “strongly objects to the content and sentiments expressed in [Scott's] email, including discriminatory and offensive language as well as any suggestions of potential retaliation against any Miller Center staff members.” Scott, who declined comment, resigned Friday.

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