All posts by Andy Thomason


What Antonin Scalia’s Death May Mean for the ‘Fisher’ Affirmative-Action Case

The death of the longtime Supreme Court justice and conservative stalwart Antonin Scalia has widespread ramifications for American politics and policy. For higher education, the most immediately apparent consequence is for Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the landmark legal challenge to race-conscious admissions that is pending before the court.

A short history of the case: Abigail N. Fisher sued the university in 2008, asserrting she had been unfairly denied admission to the university …


As Mount St. Mary’s Offers to Reinstate 2 Professors, Faculty Demands President Quit

[Last updated (2/12/2016, 7:23 p.m.) with comments from Ed Egan, one of the faculty members dismissed and then offered reinstatement.]

The president of Mount St. Mary’s University has reinstated the two faculty members who were fired for disloyalty this week, according to a statement from the institution on Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, the faculty of the troubled Maryland campus voted overwhelmingly to ask the university’s president to resign.

But one of the faculty members offered reinstatement…


10 Percent of Ursinus College Students Have the Same Mystery Illness

The number of students who have fallen ill at Ursinus College stands at a whopping 174 — roughly 10 percent of the small Pennsylvania institution’s enrollment. The college said in a statement on Thursday that it had closed its dining halls for inspection by the county health department and for cleaning, and is serving meals in a gymnasium.

College officials haven’t determined the cause of the illness, but students’ symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea. The college said two students had been gi…


Acknowledging ‘New Normal,’ Berkeley Announces Broad Plan to Shore Up Finances

Citing a “new normal” of diminished state funding, the University of California at Berkeley is launching a “strategic-planning process” aimed at shoring up its finances. In a message to the campus on Wednesday morning, the university’s chancellor, Nicholas B. Dirks, laid out several broad areas for change the university will consider.

Specifics about the “strategic-planning process” are scarce. What is clear, however, is the university’s harsh financial outlook. According to a financial summary …


Here’s a Snapshot of Online Learning in 2015

The Babson Survey Research Group released its last annual survey of the online-education landscape on Tuesday. You can read its report on the survey here, and below are some of its key findings:

  • The percentage of academic leaders who said online learning was critical to their institution’s mission dropped from 71 percent, in 2014 — the highest ever — to 63 percent.
  • The number of distance-education students increased at a slightly higher rate — 3.9 percent — from 2014 to 2015 than it did in …

Apollo Education, U. of Phoenix’s Parent, Is Sold for $1.1 Billion

[Updated (2/8/2016, 4:28 p.m.) with further details.]

The Apollo Education Group, the parent company of the for-profit University of Phoenix, will be sold to a “consortium of investors” for $1.1 billion, the company announced on Monday. The purchase, made by three investment firms, will make Apollo a privately held company.

It will also install a new chairman of the Apollo Board of Directors — Tony Miller, a former deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Education and partner at one of the…


Suffolk’s President and Its Board Chair Will Step Down

The president of Suffolk University and the chairman of its Board of Trustees will step down in an attempt to resolve a leadership controversy that has rocked the Massachusetts campus over the last week. In a joint statement, the chairman and the president — Andrew Meyer Jr. and Margaret A. McKenna, respectively — said Mr. Meyer would step down from the board when his term expires, in May, and Ms. McKenna would step down no later than the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year.

The statement als…


Accreditor Threatens to Step In as Illinois Colleges Wait for State Funds

The Higher Learning Commission sent a letter to Illinois lawmakers on Thursday, saying it is “obligated to move swiftly to protect Illinois students” if the state’s budget impasse continues and public colleges are denied state funds. Capitol Fax, an Illinois politics blog, obtained a copy of the letter, which is addressed to the state’s governor and members of the legislature.

In the letter, Barbara Gellman-Danley, president of the commission, wrote that the accreditor had contacted the state’s …


Student-Conduct Group’s President-Elect Says She Was Sexually Assaulted by Predecessor

[Updated (2/4/2016, 5:14 p.m.) with a statement from a lawyer representing Mr. Casares.]

The president-elect of the Association for Student Conduct Administration published an open letter on Wednesday asserting that her predecessor, who recently stepped down, had sexually assaulted her.

The president-elect, Jill L. Creighton, assistant director for global community standards at New York University, said in the letter, posted on Twitter, that Jason Casares “took advantage” of her at a convention …


Stanford Names Neuroscientist as Its Next President

Marc Tessier-Lavigne, a neuroscientist and president of Rockefeller University, has been named the 11th president of Stanford University, the institution announced on Thursday. Mr. Tessier-Lavigne, who is a former member of the Stanford faculty, will take the helm on September 1.

“Marc has a sophisticated understanding of the breadth of the Stanford enterprise, the centrality of faculty and students to our mission, and the critical role of the president in preserving and enhancing Stanford’s exc…