U.S. Higher Education News for September 12, 2015


“Campus Sexual Assault Trial Congratulates Witch-Hunt Mind-Set [sic].” Legal Monitor Worldwide 12 Sep. 2015.

Public universities should be able to use lower standards of evidence when deciding to expel students accused of sexual assault, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis said at a hearing in Washington, D.C.

Polis, speaking at a higher education subcommittee meeting on preventing and responding to sexual assault on college campus, suggested creating a lower legal standard of evidence for public universities than currently used.

“I mean, if there’s 10 people that have been accused and, under a reasonable likelihood standard, maybe one or two did it, seems better to get rid of all 10 people,” said Polis, a Democrat whose district includes Colorado State University and University of Colorado, as well as Fort Collins. “We’re not talking about depriving them of life or liberty, we’re talking about their transfer to another university, for crying out loud.”

Joseph Cohn, legislative and policy director for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, was testifying before the committee that current standards of a preponderance of evidence–a more lenient standard than used in criminal trials–could fail a constitutional due process test, depending on circumstances. Without a change in law, Polis’ proposed reasonable likelihood of guilt wouldn’t stand a chance of surviving, he said.

In a statement, Polis communications director Kristin Lynch said the congressman was making the point that protecting against sexual assault and ensuring the safest campuses possible is a No. 1 priority.


Davidson, Adam. “College Tuition Rises, but Cost of Failing to Educate Is Also High.” New York Times Magazine 12 Sep. 2015: 13.

To understand the feeling of crisis that many see in American higher education right now, it’s useful to start with some figures from 40 years ago.

In 1974, the median American family earned just under $13,000 a year. A new home could be had for $36,000, an average new car for $4,400. Attending a four-year private college cost around $2,000 a year: affordable, with some scrimping, to even median earners. As for public university, it was a bargain at $510 a year. To put these figures in 2015 dollars, we’re talking about median household income of $62,000, a house for $174,000 and a sticker price of $21,300 for the car, $10,300 for the private university and $2,500 for the public one.

A lot has changed since then. Median family income has fallen to about $52,000, while median home prices have increased by about two-thirds. (Car prices have remained steady.) But the real outlier is higher education. Tuition at a private university is now roughly three times as expensive as it was in 1974, costing an average of $31,000 a year; public tuition, at $9,000, has risen by nearly four times. This is a painful bill for all but the very richest. For the average American household that doesn’t receive a lot of financial aid, higher education is simply out of reach.

The pricing dynamics of higher education ripple throughout the rest of our economy, in effect determining who will thrive and who will fail. What’s more, education exerts something of a multiplier effect; it transforms not only the lives of the educated but of those around them as well. Workers with more education are more productive, which makes companies more profitable and the overall economy grow faster. Educated populations also tend to be healthier, more stable and more engaged in their civic institutions and democratic debate. . . .


Davis, Janel. “Aarons Donate $3M to School.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution 12 Sep. 2015: B,1.

Baseball legend Hank Aaron and his wife, Billye Suber Aaron, are donating $3 million to Morehouse School of Medicine as part of an expansion of academic facilities at the Atlanta institution.

The gift will fund an expansion of the Hugh Gloster Medical Education building and creation of the Billye Suber Aaron Student Pavilion.

The Aarons’ gift was presented this week during the school’s 40th anniversary and 31st fall convocation, white coat and pinning ceremony. The 159 participating students made up the medical school’s largest first-year class. There are a total of 458 students at the school.

“Like our family, MSM has a true commitment to the Georgia community,” Hank Aaron said Friday. “We are happy to partner in creating a facility that welcomes and educates the next generation of doctors, health care professionals and leaders for the communities we hold so dear. It is fitting that the pavilion holds my wife’s name because of her long-held commitment to education and this dedicated school’s special place in her heart.” . . .


Davis, Janel. “Emory President to Leave Impressive Legacy.” Atlanta Journal Constitution 12 Sep. 2015: A,1.

Emory University’s president James Wagner will step down from his position at the prestigious private school next year, leaving a legacy of academic and fundraising achievements along with some high-profile missteps. . . .

By the time he leaves, Wagner will have led Emory 13 years, seeing its enrollment grow to more than 14,700 undergraduate and graduate students, and increasing the school’s national prominence. He led perhaps the state’s largest fundraising campaign, garnering $1.7 billion for Emory’s academic, patient care and social action initiatives. Wagner has also helped engineer academic partnerships with other Atlanta colleges, building a bioscience center and library center with Georgia Tech, for example, and he helped steer the institution through its response to an international Ebola outbreak last year. . . .

Alongside these achievements, though, Wagner’s leadership has included notable controversies.

Last year the AJC reported that Emory had recorded the most sexual assaults of any college in Georgia over the previous year in 2012 and 2013. University leaders attributed the high numbers to better education and student outreach.

Emory and Wagner came under fire three years ago when the school admitted that for years it had purposely misreported data to groups that rank colleges, including U.S. News and World Report. The institution retained its high ranking the following year with corrected data.

Wagner himself was criticized a year later for an essay he wrote in which he used the three-fifths compromise over slavery as an example of how people with opposing viewpoints can work toward a common goal. The compromise counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for determining representation in Congress. Wagner apologized for his “clumsiness and insensitivity” with the slavery reference, but faced a vote of no confidence from faculty members because of the column, communication issues and cuts to some academic programs. The faculty ultimately backed Wagner and rejected the no-confidence vote. . . .


Editorial Writers. “Editorial: Improving Oklahoma by Degrees.” Tulsa World 12 Sep. 2015.

The Complete College America program set out to improve Oklahoma by degrees, and it’s doing so by leaps and bounds.

Oklahoma launched the 12-year initiative in 2011, with a goal to increase career credentials and college degrees conferred by 1,700 each year – an ambitious 67 percent spike that would bring the total to 50,900 in 2023.

The state surpassed its annual goal with an increase of 2,945 degrees and certificates in the first year and 3,577 in the second year. Figures for the third academic year will come out in October, and officials have high hopes that the momentum will continue in spite of funding challenges.

Nearly every state agency has lost state appropriations, and higher ed has been especially hard hit.

Higher education officials have warned that every dollar cut from the Complete College America program is a dollar that holds the state back. Degree and certificate completion are considered a major economic development tool.

Oklahoma’s plan has been named the national model for Complete College America, but the ambitious plan can’t ultimately succeed without more investment. . . .


Lambert, Lance. “Cosby’s Name Removed from Building at CSU; University Move Comes as Comedian Faces Allegations of Assault.” Dayton Daily News 12 Sep. 2015: A,1.

WILBERFORCE – Central State University’s board of trustees decided unanimously to rename the Camille O. and William H. Cosby Mass Communications Center, in light of recent information involving the comedian and philanthropist.

The building will now be called the CSU Mass Communications Center.

In July, the university announced that as a result of accusations that Cosby drugged women as a means to have sex with them, the school would cover up Cosby’s name and consider removing it altogether.

Cosby’s name has appeared on its mass communications building since 1992.

Yet Cosby’s name will still appear on at least one plaque at the university, according to CSU Spokeswoman Edwina Blackwell Clark.

The university has yet to decide if it will refund the $1 million Cosby has donated to the university. His donations helped fund the university’s mass communication’s building, a track field and a $50,000 scholarship fund. In addition, he helped raise $4.1 million for the university as part of what was called the Cosby Challenge.

Apart from his donations, Cosby’s name has been a part of the university’s culture. Some communication majors nickname themselves “Cosby kids.”


Snyder, Susan. “Spanier Asks Court to Allow Him to Fly to Saudi Arabia>” Philadelphia Inquirer 12 Sep. 2015: B,6.

As he awaits trial on charges that he conspired to cover up child sex assaults by Jerry Sandusky, former Pennsylvania State University president Graham B. Spanier is complaining about restrictions that prevent him from traveling as an education consultant.

Spanier wants to fly to Saudi Arabia this fall to meet with that country’s higher education leaders, but the head of probation in Dauphin County, where he is to be tried, denied the request out of concern that authorities would not be able to force him back.

“There is no existing ‘extradition treaty’ between Saudi Arabia and the U.S.,” Chadwick J. Libby, director of Dauphin County Probation Services, wrote Sept. 4.

In an objection filed this week, Spanier’s lawyers argued that he should be permitted to go, noting that the court had approved a similar trip Spanier made to Saudi Arabia last year.

“There is simply no basis to conclude that Dr. Spanier is a flight risk or that he poses a safety risk to anyone,” his lawyers wrote.

Spanier, in a response to Libby, questioned the rationale for the denial, given his travel last year. “I am at a loss to understand what is different at this time,” the former university president wrote.

Spanier has been barred since August 2013 from leaving the country without approval of the court and attorney general. In addition to the travel to Saudi Arabia last year, Spanier was permitted to go to London and Spain in 2015.

Spanier, a sociologist, has continued to live in State College and remains a tenured member of the Penn State faculty as the court case filed against him filed in 2012 continues to drag on. No court date has been set. . . .


Snyder, Susan. “University of Sciences, Salus in Premerger Talks.” Philadelphia Inquirer 12 Sep. 2015: B, 2.

The University of the Sciences and Salus University have begun talks about “forming a broad strategic partnership” that could result in a merger, the president of Salus wrote in an email to colleagues Thursday.

“Although discussions are very much in an exploratory phase, our respective boards recognize the potential for growth as a combined institution far exceeds what either of us can accomplish alone,” wrote Michael H. Mittelman, president of Salus, the Elkins Park institution formerly called the Pennsylvania College of Optometry.

No time line for the talks has been set, Mittelman said in the email.

The University of the Sciences, based in University City, offers undergraduate and graduate programs, with its top majors in pharmacy, physical therapy, biology, and occupational therapy. It enrolls about 2,520 undergraduate and graduate students.

Salus, which became a university in 2008, has its largest enrollment in optometry and other programs including audiology, physician assistant, and occupational therapy. The university, which also encompasses the Eye Institute in East Oak Lane, reports an enrollment of 1,184. . . .



4 thoughts on “U.S. Higher Education News for September 12, 2015

  1. Pingback: U.S. Higher Education News for September 17, 2015 | The Academe Blog

  2. Pingback: U.S. Higher Education News for September 19, 2015 | The Academe Blog

  3. That Adam Davidson article has a major correction on how incomes have changed over time. They did go up

    Correction: September 27, 2015

    An article on Sept. 13 about college tuition referred incorrectly to CUNY when describing a program that helped improve the graduation rates of its community colleges. It is the City University of New York (not Universities). The article also referred incorrectly to a measure of income in a comparison of 1974 income and current income when adjusted for inflation. It is median family income, which has risen to about $64,000 a year from $62,000 in 1974, not median household income. And the article also described incorrectly the change in median family income over the past 40 years. It has risen slightly, not fallen.

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