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Quick Takes: Barring Undocumented Students, HR Chief Fired Over Anti-Gay Column, IPO for Grand Canyon U., Apollo in Canada, More Anger Over Schlafly Honor, Inappropriate Influence on Ratings, Surge at Teach for America, Arizona State Drops 3 Sports

May 14, 2008
  • The North Carolina Community College System announced Tuesday that, based on an advisory letter from the state Attorney General's office -- which cited federal law -- it would no longer admit illegal immigrants into degree programs. The decision came despite a statement on the matter from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that seems to contradict the state's interpretation that federal law limits the ability of undocumented students to enroll in public colleges. The statement reads, in part, "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not require any school to determine a student's status (i.e., whether or not he or she is legally allowed to study). DHS also does not require any school to request immigration status information prior to enrolling students or to report to the government if they know a student is out of status, except in the case of those who came on student visas or for exchange purposes and are registered with the Student Exchange and Visitor Program." The 58-college system estimates that in the 2006-7 academic year, only 112 degree-seeking students, out of 296,540, lacked proof of legal residency.
  • The University of Toledo has fired Crystal Dixon as associate vice president of human resources following an uproar over a column she wrote asserting that gay people can change their sexual orientation and could never be considered "civil rights victims." In the column, she compared herself as a black woman to a gay person. She wrote: "I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are ‘civil rights victims.’ Here’s why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a Black woman. I am genetically and biologically a Black woman and very pleased to be so as my Creator intended. Daily, thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle....” An assistant to Dixon's lawyer said that she was considering suing the university, either on First Amendment or other grounds. A statement from the university defended the dismissal saying that Dixon's views were "in direct contradiction to university policies and procedures, as well as the institutional core values as defined in our strategic plan, and called into question her continued ability to lead a critical function within the administration as personnel actions or decisions taken in her capacity as
    associate vice president for human resources could be challenged or placed at risk."
  • The parent company that owns Grand Canyon University, in Arizona, announced plans Tuesday for an initial public offering of its stock. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, two of the nation's biggest investment banks, including Credit Suisse and Merrill Lynch are backing Grand Canyon Education, Inc.'s plan for a $230 million IPO. The for-profit company bought Grand Canyon, which was a struggling private Christian college, in 2004, and has increased its size and reach significantly. In a memo to employees Tuesday, Brent Richardson, the company's CEO, said the company hoped to be traded on the NASDAQ would "use the proceeds from this planned IPO to help fund continued growth of our student body, ground campus, and online offerings." Experts on higher education financing said the proposed IPO was noteworthy in part because it suggested that despite the economic downturn dampening some aspects of the financial markets, some of the country's biggest investment banks are betting that the for-profit higher education market remains attractive to investors.
  • The Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, announced plans Tuesday to open Meritus University, which will be based in in New Brunswick and will offer online degree programs to working professionals throughout Canada.
  • Protest is growing at Washington University in St. Louis over an honorary degree to be awarded this week to Phyllis Schlafly, the anti-feminist activist. Fourteen members of the law school faculty have released a letter calling on the university to abandon its plans. "We are fully committed to the principle of free speech.... Commencement, however, is first and foremost a time of celebration of the intellectual accomplishments of our students," the letter said. "It is, we believe, a disservice to those whom we honor to inject into the proceedings a person who has devoted her life to staking out and promoting polarizing, anti-intellectual positions." The letter went on to say that the objection to Schlafly "stems from the fact that she has devoted her career to demagoguery and anti-intellectualism in the pursuit of her political agenda. She has berated scientific inquiry; apart from her particular stance on the Equal Rights Amendment, she has demonstrated a lack of concern for - and sometimes outright bigotry toward - not only women, but gays and lesbians." Meanwhile, 25 students and faculty members protested outside the home of Mark Wrighton, the university chancellor, and vowed to return unless plans for the degree change. Schlafly told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that those opposing the degree were "tacky," adding: "They are a bunch of bitter women. It was 25 years ago that we buried the Equal Rights Amendment and they are still whining about it." Washington University is standing behind the decision, but issued a new statement Tuesday saying that the university is "not endorsing" Schlafly's views, and calling her "an alumna ... whose life and work have had a broad impact on American life and have sparked widespread debate and controversies that in many cases have helped people better formulate and articulate their own views about the values they hold."
  • The reliability of Britain's National Student Survey is being questioned after tapes emerged of lecturers at Kingston University telling students to give the institution high marks or to risk their degrees having little value. The Times of London reported on the scandal and also has the tape.
  • Teach for America is attracting more of the top college graduates. The New York Times reported that the organization, which places new grads as teachers, received 24,700 applications this spring, up 37 percent. Almost 11 percent of the graduating class at Yale University applied, and Teach for America is now the top employer at institutions such as Duke, Emory, George Washington, Georgetown and New York Universities and Spelman College.
  • Arizona State University, citing budget constraints, on Tuesday announced that it would eliminate three men's athletic teams: swimming, tennis and wrestling. Athletes on the teams will continue to receive any scholarship awards through their senior years.
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