Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 24, 2018

The University of New Haven is resisting calls to sever its relationship with a Saudi Arabian security college in the wake of the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Turkey. New Haven said in a statement on Tuesday it plans to continue its relationship with King Fahd Security College despite criticism from a local activist who reportedly described it as a scandal “that the University of New Haven has relations with a police college in a country known for human rights abuse, known for torturing and killing dissidents.”

New Haven signed an agreement with King Fahd Security College to help it develop a four-year baccalaureate program in security studies in 2016. “The goal, then as now, was to help modernize and professionalize criminal justice activities in Saudi Arabia through this educational partnership,” New Haven said in a statement issued Tuesday.

“We have been pleased with the academic professionalism of our partners, and we look forward to continuing the relationship.”

October 24, 2018

The University of California, San Francisco, settled with a former postdoctoral researcher for $150,000 after she sued it, saying a high-profile tobacco researcher harassed her. The former postdoc, Eunice Neeley, alleged in a December lawsuit that Stanton Glantz, Truth Initiative Distinguished Professor of Tobacco Control, ogled her body, forced her to hug him and made inappropriate sexual comments during conversations. Neeley said Glantz also retaliated against her by removing her name from a paper after she filed an internal complaint against him.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the settlement also stipulates that Glantz will relinquish his rights to the paper in question and transfer authorship to Neeley. Glantz denies all of Neeley's allegations. Both Glantz and the university reportedly declined comment. Glantz has previously denied the allegations in more detail, including by saying that Neeley did not want her name on the disputed paper. The Chronicle reported that an internal university investigation found Glantz violated the Faculty Code of Conduct with Neeley, and that he now has the option to appeal the findings before a faculty committee.

The university has been paying Glantz’s legal bills, including to fight a second harassment suit filed by a former employee, a paralegal named Juliette Jackson. Jackson alleges that she reported Glantz to campus officials in early 2017 and that they mishandled her case, including through undue delays. Glantz has reportedly denied leering at Jackson, who is Native American, but admitted to calling Native Americans “Indians.”

October 24, 2018

Michael Simons, a professor of cardiology at Yale University, is suing the institution over its decision to strip him of his endowed chair over a previous harassment case, the New Haven Register reported. Yale transferred the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professorship to Simons over the summer, after the family of Robert W. Berliner, the late dean of the Yale School of Medicine, expressed concern that Simons still held the professorship named after Berliner that he’d held since 2008. Their concerns stemmed from Yale’s 2013 finding that Simons harassed a postdoctoral researcher. Simons, who was suspended for the incident, has said he briefly pursued a junior but not subordinate colleague. After the transfer of chairs was announced, many students and faculty spoke out against Yale’s decision to give what seemed like a new honor to a known harasser.

Yale responded to the criticism by saying that the new chair was not supposed to be a new honor, but then it reversed course and took back the chair from Simons. Simons’s suit describes the opposition to his second chair as “activists loosely affiliated with an emerging movement galvanized by an intolerance to perceived sexual misconduct, known colloquially by the symbol ‘#MeToo.’” He also alleges that Robert Alpern, medical school dean, tried to force him to resign in September by threatening reputational harm and to take away his chair. Simons also says that Alpern told him Yale would pay him about $140,000 per year as a payout, according to the Register. Yale declined comment Tuesday.

October 24, 2018

Undergraduates are more likely to consider going to graduate school if at least one of their parents did so, according to new data from the Association of American Law Schools and Gallup. The survey found that 41 percent of those considering graduate or professional education have at least one parent with an advanced degree, compared to 33 percent whose parents hold a bachelor’s degree and 26 percent whose parents do not hold a four-year degree.

October 24, 2018

A survey released today by the Association of Community College Trustees examines the backgrounds of two-year college trustees and details what they say are challenges for their institutions.

The survey found that in regards to gender, race and ethnicity, trustees don't resemble community college students. Of the trustees who participated in the study, more than half are men, although more than half of community college students are women. Seventy-six percent of trustees identified as white, 7 percent as black and 6 percent as Hispanic or Latino. However, 50 percent of community college students in the U.S. are white, 15 percent are black and 24 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino.

“It is incumbent upon trustees to focus on the value of diversity and how demographic differences between leadership and students can impact institutional decision-making,” J. Noah Brown, ACCT's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Community colleges must work to promote diversity and inclusivity on their own boards and advocate for equity-minded policies and practices to support their students.”​

ACCT received more than 1,100 responses to the survey.

The survey found that the majority of trustees have earned a bachelor's degree or more, with 31 percent of respondents holding a master's degree. Only 29 percent of trustees said they had attended their community college as a student.

The survey also revealed the top five industries trustees were employed in, with 28 percent reporting they worked in education, 12 percent in government or politics, 8 percent in health care, retail and manufacturing. Thirty-five percent of trustees reported they were retired, and 32 percent were employed full-time. Forty-five percent of trustees reported earning between $50,000 and $149,999 annually, while 22 percent of trustees earned between $150,000 and $299,999.

More than 80 percent of trustees said they were motivated to join their boards because they want to improve programs for students, serve their community and promote student success.

Trustees also responded to what they view as challenges their communities and colleges face in the next decade. Forty-five percent of trustees said funding, improving student access, success and completion were the major challenges their colleges are facing.

October 24, 2018

Charleston Southern University has agreed to reduce its football scholarship funds and vacate records from games in which ineligible athletes participated after the National Collegiate Athletic Association found that university officials failed to monitor their athletics program.

The NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions, in conclusions reached through the association's collaborative summary disposition process, found that Charleston Southern improperly certified dozens of athletes in 12 sports to compete over multiple years, resulting in ineligible athletes competing. The university blamed its poor accounting procedures on inadequate funding, which the infractions panel said could not be used to justify lack of compliance with a "basic requirement."

The NCAA fined the university $5,000 and required it to reduce the number of equivalent football scholarships it provides by a total of six in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years.

October 24, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Suman Seth, associate professor in the department of science and technological studies at Cornell University, explains seasoning sickness. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 23, 2018

Universities are coming under scrutiny for their ties to Saudi Arabia following the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident journalist, in a Saudi consulate in Turkey. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology said in a recent message to faculty that it is conducting a “swift, thorough reassessment of MIT’s Institute-level engagements with entities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia so that we can determine a course of action for the Institute.” A “Global MIT” website lists more than 20 university initiatives involving partners or projects in Saudi Arabia, many of which deal with research on energy or water issues.

The Hartford Courant also reported on Monday that an activist with the Middle East Crisis Committee demanded that the University of New Haven end its partnership with the King Fahd Security College in Riyadh, saying that it was a scandal “that the University of New Haven has relations with a police college in a country known for human rights abuse, known for torturing and killing dissidents.”

A New Haven spokesman did not return the Courant’s request for comment Monday. In June 2016 the university announced that it was collaborating with King Fahd Security College to develop a four-year bachelor’s degree in security studies. "We are excited to put the University of New Haven's world-renowned programs in criminal justice, national security, and forensic science studies at the service of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's next generation of security professionals," New Haven’s president, Steven H. Kaplan, said in the 2016 news release announcing the collaboration.

October 23, 2018

The Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, is vowing to do a better job of recruiting minority students after enrolling a full-time M.B.A. class that many criticized for having only six black students in a class of 291. That's down from 10 black students who enrolled last year, in a smaller class of 282, and a peak in 2016 of 19 black students in a class of 252. A report issued by the business school said that it "failed to react quickly" as black enrollment numbers fell. New steps being taken include hiring a director of diversity admissions, adding scholarship dollars and using a "first-offer-best-offer" approach, and changing M.B.A. admissions criteria "to consider an applicant’s skillset and experience in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion."

October 23, 2018

A female student at the University of Utah was shot dead on campus outside a dormitory area Monday night, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Authorities have identified a suspect, a registered sex offender with whom the victim is believed to have had a previous relationship. The campus was on lockdown, which was lifted when authorities determined that the suspect had left campus.

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