All posts by Andy Thomason


Lawmakers Investigate Education Dept.’s Role in Forgiving Student-Loan Debt

A group of Democratic lawmakers is pushing the U.S. Department of Education to more frequently forgive the loan debt of students who attended colleges that engaged in “fraudulent activities.”

Five U.S. senators and a member of the House of Representatives wrote a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Monday, stating that the department should “take immediate action” to inform students eligible for debt relief — including those who attended the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges — of thei…


Bill Clinton Will Leave Honorary Chancellorship at For-Profit Laureate

Bill Clinton will step down as honorary chancellor of the for-profit giant Laureate Education Inc., after five years in the post, Bloomberg News reports. The company said the former president’s departure was not related to the presidential campaign of his wife, Hillary Clinton, who has begun to denounce “bad actors” in the for-profit sector.

“Laureate students represent the next generation of leadership,” Mr. Clinton said in a written statement. “I have seen a commitment to quality and leadership throughout the Laureate network, and I have enjoyed being a part of it.”

Former President Bill Clinton’s role at a for-profit higher education company will end Friday, just as his wife has begun questioning some of the industry’s practices from the campaign trail. Since 2010, Clinton has been honorary chancellor of Laureate International Universities, part of Laureate Education Inc. the world’s largest chain of for-profit colleges.

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College of DuPage Faculty Wants President Put on Leave

Faculty members at the College of DuPage voted unanimously on Thursday night to ask that the two-year college’s trustees put its president, Robert L. Breuder, on leave until federal and state authorities complete their investigations of the Illinois college, the Chicago Tribune reports.

“We are currently headed down a path that is destructive to this institution,” reads the Faculty Senate’s resolution. “Regardless of your allegiances to Dr. Breuder, it is time to act decisively. If evidence is f…


Fraternity Expels 3 From U. of Florida Chapter for Insulting Wounded Veterans

[Updated (4/24/2015, 6:31 pm.) with news of the fraternity chapter's suspension.]

A fraternity has expelled three members of its University of Florida chapter after finding they insulted a group of wounded veterans, The Gainesville Sun reported. Laurence Bolotin, executive director of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, also said in a written statement that the fraternity had hired an investigator to “gather all of the facts.”

And late Friday, the Sun reported, the university suspended the fraternity chapter, which was already on probation for hazing. Because of the pending probation, the university could end up expelling the chapter.

The controversy stems from the chapter’s formal, held last weekend in the same place a group of wounded military veterans were staying. The veterans reported that some fraternity members spit on them, threw beer at them, and urinated on an American flag.

Laurence Bolotin, executive director of Zeta Beta Tau International, said three UF students the fraternity found to be involved in the incident have already been expelled from the chapter and further action will be taken if necessary.

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Sweet Briar Closure Prompts Comparisons to Invasions of Iraq, Rohan

The sudden announcement last month that Sweet Briar College would close provoked shock among students, faculty, and alumnae who protested that an institution with an $85-million endowment couldn’t be in financial straits dire enough to warrant shutting down. The Board of Trustees’ decision was misguided and irresponsible, they claimed.

That argument has persisted (as has the institution’s answer that closing was the most responsible option), but it has also gotten more elaborate. Consider the fo…


Education Dept. Issues New Guidance on Campus Sexual Assault

The U.S. Department of Education has released new guidance reminding colleges that they must designate Title IX coordinators. In the new documents, the department’s Office for Civil Rights describes colleges’ responsibilities under the anti-discrimination law and the role of the coordinator in depth.

The position of Title IX coordinator has proliferated on campuses since 2011, when the department said it would more strictly enforce the law, which requires that students’ reports of sexual assault…


2 Colleges Probe Reports That Fraternity Members Spit on Wounded Veterans

[Updated (4/23/2015, 5:02 p.m.) with a statement from Emory University.]

[Updated (4/23/2015, 4:15 p.m.) with a statement from the national Zeta Beta Tau organization, and mention of the Emory University chapter, which was also at the formal.]

The University of Florida is investigating reports that members of a fraternity chapter spit on wounded veterans and stole American flags from them, The Gainesville Sun reports.

Members of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity chapter from the University of Florida…


Newspaper’s Investigation Digs Into Florida’s For-Profit Higher-Ed Sector

Looking for some reading material on for-profit colleges in Florida? The Miami Herald has you covered, and then some. The newspaper just released the results of an extensive investigation into the sector’s presence in the state, complete with some eye-opening findings. Among them:

  • Florida’s state lawmakers have passed more than a dozen laws that have helped the sector expand — while accepting more than $1 million in campaign contributions from the colleges that benefited.
  • The state body charged…

President of AAC&U Will Step Down Next Year

Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, will step down in June 2016, she announced on Wednesday. “I know that, with an extraordinary board and staff fully engaged in work that serves our members and our students, AAC&U is well poised for its next era of leadership and service within higher education,” she wrote in a statement. Ms. Schneider has been the association’s president since 1998.

Dear Colleagues, AAC&U is an extraordinary community. Our members are drawn together by a shared commitment to the enduring value of liberal education and by a restless quest to adapt the practices of liberal education to the challenges of an interconnected world and for the benefit of contemporary college students, in all their diversity.

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First Takes: Will Arizona State and edX’s Freshman-Year Project Live Up to the Hype?

Will the partnership between edX and Arizona State University to “reimagine” the freshman year live up to the hype?

That’s the question being passed around in higher-ed circles on Thursday morning. Under the plan, Arizona State will offer its freshman-year general-education requirements in MOOC form. Students who complete the courses and want to use them as college credit can do so at a price of $200 per credit.

It’s novel, and at first blush it may seem like a promising option for low-income st…