Higher Education Quick Takes
The Tennessee House of Representatives on Tuesday, following a similar vote in the Senate, approved a plan by Governor Bill Haslam to offer free community college tuition to all graduates of high schools in the state, The Tennessean reported. The plan will take effect in fall 2015. Governor Haslam, a Republican, has pushed the plan as a key way for the state to encourage a larger share of the population to seek college credentials. The idea of free community college tuition has also been discussed in other states, but the Tennessee plan -- with the strong advocacy of a governor -- has attracted attention nationally and is now being adopted.
Virginia Intermont College announced Tuesday that its planned merger with Webber International University would not go through. The two institutions "have reached the joint and difficult conclusion that we do not have a viable model for merger in July. This deeply saddens the administration and the boards of each school, as we have very high regard for one another and we both strongly believe in Webber’s goal of uniting small colleges in order to preserve their identities," the statement said. Virginia Intermont has been struggling financially and hoped that linking up with a larger, business oriented university like Webber would allow the liberal arts program in Virginia to survive. Tuesday's statement said that the university would finish the semester and offer a summer session that ends June 27. But the statement did not indicate how the college plans to operate after that.
The Washington Post noted that Virginia Intermont's enrollment in the fall was 378, a 35 percent decline since 2010.
Ball State University is planning to toughen post-tenure review to weed out "chronic low performers" on the faculty, The Star Press reported. Under the plan, faculty members whose performance is unsatisfactory two years in a row or three years out of five will be given a year to improve or to face termination. Ball State officials said that only a very small share of faculty members fit this category, but that failing to deal with them creates extra work for other professors. Dave Pearson, chair of the University Senate, said, “It’s a very, very small problem, but it can cause real problems in small departments.... I think the faculty have bought into this."
Black law students at Washington and Lee University, under a new group called "The Committee," have asked Washington and Lee University to take a series of steps to address "the racist and dishonorable conduct of Robert E. Lee." Lee served as president of the university after the Civil War, and has historically been revered at the institution. The Committee is calling on the university to observe the Martin Luther King Day as a formal day off, to stop allowing "neo-confederates to march on campus with Confederate flags on Lee-Jackson day," and to formally apologize "for the university's participation in chattel slavery" and "Robert E. Lee's participation in slavery."
A statement from the university noted that it does hold events to mark Martin Luther King Day every year, and that a decision to call off classes would have to be made by the faculty. The statement does not go into a detailed response on the other demands, but says that the university welcomes discussion on these issues and that "in terms of the other issues that the students have raised, we will give them all careful consideration."
In 2012, during an earlier debate about the Lee legacy at the university, the institution's president, Kenneth P. Ruscio, wrote an essay for Inside Higher Ed in which he argued for a balanced view of the general. "Lee was a dignified, humble man. His sense of duty and honor would cause him to cringe if he ever became the subject of idolatry or the embodiment of myth," Ruscio wrote. "Blindly, superficially and reflexively rushing to his defense is no less an affront to history than blindly, superficially and reflexively attacking him. What he needs, what he deserves, and what his record can withstand is the honest appraisal of those who have not made up their minds, who can appreciate the man with all his complexities and contradictions. History is indeed not kind enough to present us with simple morality tales."
The National Collegiate Athletic Association's Legislative Council voted Tuesday to let Division I institutions offer free unlimited meals, not just the standard three a day, for athletes, USA Today reported. The change still requires approval by the Division I board.
A University of Calgary student has been charged in stabbing to death five other students early Tuesday morning, at a party held to mark the end of the semester, The Calgary Herald reported. Authorities said that the victims were "targeted one by one."
Dartmouth College is running an advertising campaign touting its work to better prevent and respond to sexual violence on campus, to counter another online ad campaign by the women’s rights advocacy group UltraViolet, which says Dartmouth has a “rape problem.” Bloomberg Businessweek reported that the UltraViolet ads, which are aimed at prospective and current students and alumni, have been seen more than 60,000 times since they started running more than a week ago. The Dartmouth ads, which are running on websites including that of The Boston Globe, redirect readers to a web page describing how – “Consistent with President Obama’s call to action to address sexual assault” – the college is “making progress on a number of fronts.”
Dartmouth is one of a few dozen colleges whose sexual assault response is being put under the microscope by the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights. However, the review at Dartmouth differs from the investigations OCR has recently opened at dozens of other colleges in that it's a compliance review, opened proactively by OCR, and did not stem from an official federal complaint (by a student or otherwise) alleging that the college has violated Title IX.
(Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Dartmouth is undergoing a compliance review, not a Title IX complaint, by OCR.)
Inside Higher Ed is today releasing a free compilation of articles and essays -- in print-on-demand format -- about the flipped classroom. The articles and essays reflect key discussions about pedagogy, technology and the role of faculty members. Download the booklet here.
This booklet is part of a series of such compilations that Inside Higher Ed is publishing on a range of topics.
On Thursday May 8, at 2 p.m. Eastern, Inside Higher Ed editors Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman will conduct a free webinar to talk about the issues raised in the booklet's articles. To register for the webinar, please click here.
The National Federation of the Blind announced Tuesday that it plans protests for the campus of Atlantic Cape Community College. The group says that the New Jersey college not only fails to provide basic technology services needed by blind students, but that it has required a blind student to be accompanied by a sighted person when using certain facilities. A spokesman for the college denied that there is such a requirement, and said that aides are provided upon request. The spokesman added that "the college has made outreach to the National Federation of the Blind to discuss college policy, procedure and practice. We respect the public’s right to free speech, and remain open to a continued dialogue about our programs and services."