Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 23, 2009

Ward Churchill is hoping that the jury that heard his suit against the University of Colorado can persuade the judge to change his mind. The jury found for Churchill, but lacked the authority under state law to give him back his job as a tenured professor of ethnic studies at the Boulder campus. The judge then threw out the jury's finding, giving Churchill nothing. The judge found the findings by the university that Churchill engaged in research misconduct to be credible, and the processes used by the university to have had reasonable due process protections. But Churchill's lawyer has now filed a statement from one of the jurors, saying that the jury wanted Churchill reinstated, The Denver Post reported. "A majority of the jurors thought that the academic misconduct charges were not valid," Bethany Newill, a juror, wrote. "We felt that the procedures afforded to Churchill by the University of Colorado, before his termination, were biased."

July 23, 2009

The U.S. Education Department proposed regulations today to carry out new federal laws governing student loans that were enacted when Congress renewed the Higher Education Act last summer. The proposed rules, which were published in this morning's Federal Register, emerged from two sets of negotiations that the Education Department sponsored last winter to solicit guidance about how to carry out provisions in the Higher Education Opportunity Act related to student loans. Because negotiators reached consensus on virtually all aspects of the student loan provisions, the proposed rules -- which cover such areas as loan discharge, repayment plans, and a set of disclosure and other requirements for lenders and colleges in the federal and private student loan programs -- should be relatively unsurprising.

July 23, 2009

President Obama held a press conference Wednesday evening to promote his health care proposals, but he received a question about the recent arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard professor who was handcuffed at his own home after police investigated a report of someone (Gates himself) trying to break into his own home when the door was jammed. Obama joined many others who have criticized the arrest and related it to the trend of racial profiling. He said: "I think it’s fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry. No. 2, the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. And No. 3, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by police disproportionately. That’s just a fact.”

July 22, 2009

The Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii beat out a site in Chile on Tuesday to become the future home of the world's largest telescope, the Associated Press reported. The $1.2 billion telescope, with a range of 13 billion light years, is being set up by a consortium of the University of California, the California Institute of Technology and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy.

July 22, 2009

A group of former college football and men's basketball players have sued the National Collegiate Athletic Association in federal court, charging the association with violating antitrust laws by profiting off the use of the players' likenesses in video games and other memorabilia, USA Today reported. The use of athletes' images in video games is the latest battleground over commercialism and amateurism in big-time college sports, and the class action filed Tuesday is the second such lawsuit by former athletes challenging the NCAA's policies and seeking damages.

July 22, 2009

Franklin University and Franklin College have agreed on a court-approved settlement to their dispute, with the college appearing to have won some of the concessions it was looking for. The college is a liberal arts institution in Indiana and the university is based in Ohio and focuses on adult students. The college went to court after the university opened a branch in Indianapolis and started promoting it in ways the college said confused the two institutions in the public eye. The agreement requires, among other things, that the university promote itself in Indiana as “Franklin University of Ohio” or “Franklin University, Columbus, Ohio” and not to use Indianapolis or Indiana in conjunction with its name.

July 22, 2009

The board of the Peralta Community College District voted Tuesday to ask California officials to investigate allegations of inappropriate spending, The Oakland Tribune reported. The move followed reports that Eilhu Harris, the district chancellor, had helped steer contracts to a business partner without disclosing a conflict of interest, that managers' salaries were raised wtihout board approval, and that the chancellor and trustees violated travel policies. Faculty leaders demanded more action on the allegations and criticized a lack of transparency at the district. Harris denied wrongdoing, but said he was "embarrassed" by the situation.

July 22, 2009

A valued and careful reader shared this gem from a transcript of a House of Representatives hearing of the Financial Services Committee. The comment is from the chair, Rep. Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat: "No one has ever gotten re-elected where the bumper sticker said, 'It would have been worse without me.' You probably can get tenure with that. But you can't win office."

July 22, 2009

Emerson College, in Massachusetts, has agreed to pay $780,000 back to students and to reform some aid practices to resolve an investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo. About 4,000 students will receive refunds, including about 400 who are New Yorkers. (Massachusetts officials also participated in the probe.) Cuomo said that the college urged students to borrow money from lenders who did not necessarily offer the best deals. "The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that Emerson had engaged in a host of deceptive practices that hurt the financial interests of its students," said a statement from Cuomo. "Emerson’s financial aid office encouraged students to use lenders from Emerson’s 'preferred' lender list. The investigation found that lenders that appeared on this list provided Emerson’s financial aid staff with expense-paid trips to resorts, free meals, tickets to professional sporting events, and payments for attending lender advisory board meetings. In addition, Emerson’s preferred lenders provided the college with a variety of free and discounted goods and services, including temporary staffing, printing services, donations, and software." The settlement indicated that the improper practices have all ended.

July 22, 2009

The University of California at Los Angeles has removed Jeffrey Wang, a prominent researcher and surgeon, from the director's position of the UCLA Comprehensive Spine Center after determining that he failed repeatedly to report payments, stock options and royalties he was receiving from five companies whose products he was studying, The Wall Street Journal reported. Both the state and the university's medical school required the reports. Wang, who remains on the faculty, did not respond to requests for comment. UCLA officials said an additional investigation is looking into whether the corporate ties raised questions about any research findings.

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